Stott Despoja Appointed Australia’s Global Ambassador for Women and Girls

Former Democrats leader and Chair of the Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children, Natasha Stott Despoja, has been appointed by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to assume the position of Australia’s new ambassador for women and girls.

Senator Bishop said the choice was an easy one, what with Stott Despoja’s long-term commitment to gender empowerment and women’s advocacy.

“Ms Stott Despoja’s appointment reflects the Government’s wish to be at the forefront of efforts to promote the empowerment of women and girls, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Bishop and Michaella Cash, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, in a recent statement.

Not only are parliament leaders pleased with the news, but so are many other women’s advocacy organisations, such as the YWCA.

“Ms Stott Despoja has a long-standing commitment to women and girls and the achievement of gender equality,” said YWCA Australia Executive Director Caroline Lambert. “We are excited at the opportunity to work with her in this new role.”

An Impressive History in Public Affairs

The new Ambassador has a vast amount of experience working with the government, being a former Senator for South Australia from 1995 to 2008 and formerly the youngest woman to ever be elected to the Parliament of Australia at the young age of 26. She also is the founding Chairperson of the Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children.

The Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children released an extensive nation-wide report in December 2013, which highlighted the most important issues related to gender equality. The report identified violence against women as the most prominent and debilitating.

“In Australia, one in three women have experienced physical violence and almost one in five have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15,” said Paul Linossier, the Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer. “The facts speak for themselves and are completely unacceptable. Violence against women has major personal, social, and economic costs.”

“The consultation process highlighted that in order to end violence against women we must address inequalities in power, challenge gender stereotypes and promote behavioural and attitudinal changes so that this issue is no longer justified, excused, or hidden.”

Under her new role, Stott Despoja will be working closely with international organisations as well as foreign government agencies to support measures that strive to completely eliminate the trafficking of and violence against women and girls.

Initiatives for Women and Girls

She will be spearheading projects and initiatives to promote both better health and education amongst women, protect women against discrimination, and work closely on helping provide women with the tools they need to handle conflict situations and adopt peace-building skills. An increase in confidence, in decision-making abilities, and in leadership are amongst women the key objectives behind each initiative.

Stott Despoja and Ms Bishop, who is the head of a bipartisan delegation in the Pacific to try and promote women’s leadership and economic empowerment, will first be travelling to the Pacific region, an area where these initiatives are recognised as being needed the most.

Pacific Young Women’s Leadership Strategy

Over the past several years, the Federal Government has been funding the YWCAs in the Pacific to help develop and build their initiative, the Pacific Young Women’s Leadership Strategy.

“YWCAs in the Pacific know from direct experience the importance of supporting the development of young women as leaders. We look forward to sharing this work with the new Ambassador,” Dr Lambert said.

This trip to the Asia-Pacific region is an excellent first stride for Stott Despoja, as it allows her to fully assume her responsibility of providing high-level advocacy in promoting the Australian Government’s policies and activity related to gender equality as well as the political, social, and economic empowerment of girls and women.

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