Barry Girl Gillard

Gender, politics and leadership – now there’s a title to get your head around on wet Monday night in Cardiff Bay.

Or actually anytime really but my plus one and I, the ever charming Craig Stephenson, gave it our best shot at the Julia Gillard event.

Six sharp outside the Senedd was our meeting time and place so after a quick touch of lippy, I was there at the sold out session.

The evening, organised by Wales Governance Centre saw Julia Gillard in conversation with Professor Laura McAllister.

No one knows more about the mix of gender, politics and leadership than the first and, to date, only woman to hold the positions of Deputy Prime Minister, Prime Minister and leader of a major party in Australia.

And how all three of those title words provoke an emotive minefield of debate and discussion.

I’m with Julia on the gender issue and believe that even today we are a long way away from true equality.

In fact, if I had a pair of Stillettos for every time I’ve been treated differently, and usually adversely, because I’m a woman, I would be rivalling Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City for footwear.

And as for the Murdoch press to trying to shame Julia for being the first unmarried Prime Minister, rather than celebrating all her other firsts, kind of proves the sexist point doesn’t it.

Politics in Australia is more combative than here, even in these current febrile times, but as Julia told us she ‘always gave as good as she got.”

Her famous Misogyny Speech in reaction to alleged sexism by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott tells you everything you need to know.

As for leadership – it seems to me that any women who puts her head above the parapet in politics, other public life, or the private sector, faces a very tough trip to the top.

Julia Gillard, of course, personifies this and spoke much more eloquently and articulately than I ever could on the subject.

She also talked about her resilience, and how her sense of self belief, installed by her parents in her character forming years, helped her deal with her many political challenges.

Julia then chatted more of her time in politics, her wider career, her work on gender equality, the media landscape – traditional and Social, her childhood, – and how she is heartened by the ‘green shoots of gender change she sees.

Huge respect to her for her trail blazing time in office that will make it slightly easier and much less painful for the women who come after.

Ms Gillard, who is now chairwoman of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College, London, is certainly a class act.

This I know as it was the third time I had seen the former female Prime Minister speak – with the typical Australian twang of course…there’s no Gavin and Stacey accent going on there!

But I’m still immensely proud that she was born in Barry

Thank you to Julia Gillard, one of the town’s most famous residents and role models, for your entertaining, honest and inspiring conversation.

Speak soon.

SVJ

(c) mrssvj.co.uk

Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist.

She blogs about all things Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.

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