This is definitely an interesting story! Australia’s Justine Caines and Anne Bousfield helped launch the ‘What Women Want’ Australia Party in Brisbane yesterday. Why did these women feel the need to come together to start a party based around women’s needs and desires?

Justine Caines said women needed better representation and were sick of being paid lip service on key issues.

These included paid maternity leave, post-natal services, access to child care, education and the environment.

Ms Caines, a NSW senate candidate with a background in maternity services, said a looming, tight election made the timing right for the party’s launch.

She said there was a lot of talk about women taking a greater role in politics but little was being done.

More women in parliament would bring a sense of the “real world” into politics, she said.

“We are seeing our policy makers saying that they want greater participation from women and yet it is seemingly only on their terms because talk to any woman about doing the juggle and it’s bloody hard and it doesn’t need to be that hard,” she said.
“If our participation is truly valued then where is the support?”

One woman will run for the party in the Senate in each state and territory, and a handful of women will run in key marginal House of Representative seats.
Formed in April, the party has about 650 members and is seeking registration with the Australian Electoral Commission.

Wow. I think this is a courageous step for women in Australia. I’m not too sure how I feel about a women’s only party. First of all, I would like to think that issues like parental leave, post-natal services and child care were family issues and not just women’s issues. Unfortunately, though because the burden of care often falls on women – they’re still seen that way. Secondly, in making it a ‘women’s only’ party this might alienate potential male allies for the cause, which is unfortunate.

But ultimately, I think it is a great way to get women’s issues into the news and to ensure, in a tight election campaign, that women’s issues are at the forefront of the debate. Women in this newly formed party might not get elected in this election cycle, but they will increase the visibility of women involved in politics, encourage other parties to include women and hopefully help move public debate towards a serious consideration and addressal of the isssues that affect women.