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Victoria Achieves Gender Parity among MPs for the First Time

Originally published by Benita Kolovos for The Guardian

More than a century after the first woman was elected to an Australian parliament, Victoria has achieved a milestone that has been sought for decades: gender parity among MPs.

After the election of Labor’s Eden Foster in the seat of Mulgrave, vacated by former premier Daniel Andrews, there were 64 women and 64 men in Victorian parliament’s lower and upper houses.

Victoria follows the ACT and Tasmanian parliaments, which reached gender parity in 2016 and 2018, respectively. But the state is well ahead of other mainland parliaments, including at the federal level (44.5% female), in New South Wales (42.5%) and Queensland (31.2%).

Of the 64 female MPs in Victorian parliament – 39 of them are in the Labor caucus, 16 are from the Coalition and nine are on the crossbench, including five Greens.

It comes more than a century after Edith Cowan became the first woman elected to an Australian parliament. She was first elected as an MP in the West Australian parliament in 1921.

The premier, Jacinta Allan, said the achievement came exactly 100 years after women were given the right to stand as candidates in the state’s lower house.

“Over that period of time, there has been a huge amount of work by women and men across Victoria to see this day happen,” Allan said on Wednesday.

“It means that when visitors come to the parliament – particularly the school groups that come through the parliament on tours – they will see a parliament that reflects the community that they live in, they will see a parliament where there are men and women in equal numbers.”

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