An online celebration of trailblazing women who have broken through barriers in federal parliament and beyond


The individuals highlighted in this exhibition are just some of the many remarkable women who have walked the halls of parliament.

Every female politician, whether ‘first’ in her field or not, has helped—little by little—to break down traditional barriers regarding women and what they are capable of. Whatever their political persuasion, left, right or in the middle, they are all united in one core belief—women belong in the parliament.

Most Australians would agree with this sentiment. However, the number of women in our Parliament is dropping. In 1999 Australia was placed 15th in the world ranking for women’s representation in federal parliament. In 2018, we have fallen to 50th.


In 2018 the United States dropped to 101st out of 190 countries for women’s political representation (down from 52nd some 20 years ago)

In 2017 the United Kingdom ranked 39th in the world and Canada 62nd both with only a quarter of female parliamentarians.

As of June 2018 Rwanda had the highest percentage of women in national parliaments with 61.3% followed by Cuba on 53.2% in their lower or single houses.

In 2017 some 20 countries used quotas to almost double women’s political representation in most cases in comparison to countries where quotas were not used.

The world’s largest democracy India was ranked 147th out of 193 countriesin June 2018 with only 11.8% women’s representation in the lower house and 11.9% in the upper house.

Australia is ranked 50th out of 193 countries in the June 2018 with 28.7% of the House of Representatives women and 40.8% of the Senate.

Numbers of women in Australia’s parliaments hover around the ‘critical mass’ of 30 per centregarded by the United Nations as the minimum level necessary for women to influence decision-making.

Of Australia’s neighbours New Zealand is 19th out of 193 countries with 38.3% and Indonesia is 101st with 19.8% in their lower houses.