Last night's Q and A on ABC was a pretty special event. The show celebrated forty years of International Women's Day by featuring the first all-female panel in its seven-year history. 

International Women's Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women's Day is a national holiday. You can read more here.

With political and current affairs commentator, Annabel Crabb as host, the panel also included Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, feminist commentator Germaine Greer, Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay, Best & Less CEO Holly Kramer and Youth Without Borders founder Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Read more about the panel on Women's Agenda here.

The questions asked included: feminists contradictions, Julie Bishop rejecting the label of feminist, how women in the media are represented, selling feminism to men, a Bali prisoner swap, women CEO's, sexual harassment of Doctors, career and family, going topless on Instagram and are you pleased to be a girl. Read the list of questions here.

There is extraordinary power in women joining forces and working together to advocate change. WLWA think it was a fantastic podium for bringing to light inequality between the sexes and a very enlightening discussion for young women of Australia to hear. However some commentators have said there were many missed opportunities for these amazing, powerful women to address bigger issues. Clementine Ford of the Daily Life asked in an article earlier today where was the concern for exploring issues of disability, of queerness, of poverty and of sovereignty? Why is the inclusion of Aboriginal women, for example, not considered to be essential to public feminist discourse in this country?

"Is it too much to ask that we start having conversations about the fact Aboriginal women are 31 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of violence, or that disabled women are 90% more likely to have people sexually assault them with no consequences - and that these conversations be led by the women most likely to be targeted by these forms of intersectional oppression?" Ford said.

WLWA agrees that it is important that the feminist discourse is inclusive and represents the broad spectrum of society and not just the voices of white middle class women who measure success as equality in the corpotate sphere. As Ford noted "...analysis is needed of how impoverished women of colour are supposed to fit into the Australian corporate feminist utopia." WLWA would also have loved to hear what inspiring message the panel could have given the women and girls of Australia to motivate locally-based, community action and generate awareness towards the horrendous imbalance of men to women parliamentary decision makers in our country.

Regardless, it was still a very moving episode and discussion. Some of the best moments were when Yassmin Abdel-Magied commented on structural inequalities holding us back and addressing unconscious bias. "I feel like I'm a broken record when I talk about the fact that unconscious bias exists, but what we do about it is the important part," she said.

Julie Bishop was surprisingly likeable, especially her stance on labels which we can be harmful and unproductive towards change and action in all spheres. "Instead of focusing on so much analysing the labels, let's look at what people do," she said. "It's being judged on what you actually seek to achieve rather than how you label yourself."

One of our favourite moments from the panel was Roxane Gay declaring that she doesn't care about how we engage men and that they need to 'get over it'. We agree that sometimes too much time and energy is devoted to figuring out how to 'engage' men. It's a waste of time and it's boring. Power has never been shared because oppressed people have behaved in an appropriately polite manner - it has been taken by people who have fought for it, sometimes at great detriment to their own safety and sanity.

But as Ford noted, this urge to placate and soothe runs so deep that we even had a 'not all male surgeons' moment when discussion moved to the comments made by senior surgeon Gabrielle McMullin in regards to workplace sexual assault and harassment in the medical field. In exposing the abhorrent practice of cajoling and threatening subordinate colleagues into sex, why must the immediate concern be reassuring the surgical fraternity that of course, we don't mean all of them, only the very naughty ones?

WLWA tends to agree with the sentiments of Yassmin Abdel-Magied who said, we are all furnished with our own unconscious biases. True allegiance to social justice movements has to mean that everyone is willing and eager to constantly address and unpack them.

Women are powerful change makers, we need to come together to take real holistic action against climate change at all levels, local and government. At a local level, Women make over 70% of consumer decisions that affect household carbon footprint, and in the developing world it is women and children who are most exposed to the negative impacts of global warming.

WLWA were excited to announce the release of the Executive Summary to the 20th Anniversay Review of the 1994 Chief Justice's Gender Bias Taskforce Report (2014 Review Report) last week just in time for International Women's Day celebrations. You can read the Executive Summary for the 2014 Review Report here and the Media Release by WLWA here.

The Executive Summary highlights some of the most important recommendations for each of the nine chapters in combating gender bias and access to justice. WLWA encourages its members to look at the recommendations that affect you and start implementing the changes.

Together we can take action and motivate change for the better!

If you would like to comment on the Executive Summary or contribute to the implementation of the recommendations in the 2014 Review Report, please contact us by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and let us know what your area of interest is, and how you would like to contribute.

WLWA are also interested in your views and what questions you wish the panellists on Q &A were asked? What are were your favourite bits? What are you going to do to #makeithappen for #IWD ?

To continue to celebrate International Women's Day WLWA will be teaming up with Young Lawyers and sharing inspirational stories of the Women of Western Australia staring with WLWA President Tina McAulay. Please send your questions and/or comments through to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Happy International Women's Day to all!



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