Presenting at a Burnet function at Parliament House in Canberrra.
Burnet Institute chairman, Alastair Lucas AM and Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb have extended their congratulations to former Board member Natasha Stott Despoja AM on her prestigious appointment.
Australian Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, announced the appointment of Ms Stott Despoja as Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls today.
The Minister for Foreign Affair’s official media release referred to Ms Stott Despoja’s appointment as a reflection of the Government’s wish to be at the forefront of efforts to promote the empowerment of women and girls, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.
Women make up the majority of the world’s poor and comprise two-thirds of the world’s illiterate. Fewer than one in five parliamentarians globally are women and one third of women will experience physical violence in their lifetimes.
“Through her years on our board I have witnessed first-hand Natasha’s commitment and passion to the empowerment of women, especially those in poor and vulnerable settings. Natasha enthusiastically supported our international women and children’s public health programs and visited our projects in Myanmar and Laos PDR,” Professor Crabb said.
“She understands and articulates better than anyone the central role gender equity has in the development of disadvantaged communities. It is hard to imagine a more experienced, skilled and committed person to act in this crucial ambassadorial role.”
Ms Bishop said Ms Stott Despoja was well qualified to lead Australia’s international efforts to increase representation of women in leadership roles through previous roles as the former leader of a political party and a Senator for 13 years.
“Her focus will be to promote women’s economic empowerment as well as participate in conflict prevention and peace building; end violence against women and girls; and improve access to health and education services,” the Foreign Minister, Ms Bishop said.
Ms Stott Despoja leaves today with Ms Bishop, who is leading a bipartisan delegation to the Pacific to promote women’s leadership and economic empowerment.
Ms Stott Despoja only recently stepped down as a Director of the Burnet Institute, having served from 2008-2013, to take up this appointment.
(Image: Natasha visiting Burnet’s projects in Myanmar in February 2013.)
She was Senator for South Australia (1995-2008) and Leader and Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats, and the youngest woman to enter the Australian Parliament. As a legislator, Ms Stott Despoja introduced Private Members’ Bills on paid maternity leave and was a spokesperson on women and family issues.
Ms Stott Despoja is the founding Chair of the newly established Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children. She is an Ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Australia; Deputy Chair of beyondblue; a board member of the South Australian Museum; and the Museum of Australian Democracy.
In 2011, Ms Stott Despoja was made Member of the Order of Australia for her service to the Australian Parliament, education and as role model for women.