‘Alienated men’

Australia’s first woman Prime Minister warns of ‘backlash’ following ‘wave of feminist change’

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says that the world is undergoing a “wave of feminist change,” but that women must also be prepared for a backlash from men who feel women’s equality has gone too far. In a speech given for the launch of the Global Institute of Women’s Leadership, Gillard said that despite the complaints of so-called “men’s rights” activists, gender equality was not advancing as quickly as she and many others might hope.

“Globally, women make up only around a quarter of national parliamentarians, news media leaders, and judges, only 15% of corporate board members, and just 9 percent of senior IT leaders,” noted Gillard. Over the past decade, she added, research by the institute had found that the number of women in senior management positions worldwide had only increased by 1 percent.

As her own country’s first woman prime minister, she added, she has long had to tolerate gendered insults and threats of violence. But when she first spoke up about it by calling out then opposition leader Tony Abbott in 2012 for his misogynistic comments, Gillard said that she faced criticism from commentators who claimed she “had alienated men.”

Even so, Gillard continued, it was important to acknowledge the power of the #MeToo movement and other gender equality initiatives being undertaken worldwide — including the U.K.’s pay transparency efforts meant at closing the gender pay gap. But this progress, she said, comes at a cost — “straight up backlash from people who just don’t want change.”

Watch video of Gillard’s remarks on gender equality below.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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