Featured Bio: Who’s Who of Australian Women honours Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female Prime Minister
Lana Wilson / June 27, 2013 05:54 PM
Last night Australia’s first female Prime Minister was faced with, no doubt, one of the most difficult situations in her political career.
The man she powerfully ousted from the Labor leadership, Kevin Rudd (and who she coincidently served as Deputy to between 2007 and 2010), gained a higher number of support votes from her own caucus – which, subsequently forced Ms Gillard to step down as Prime Minister and hand the role back over to Kevin Rudd.
Despite media reports naming the event as “Rudd’s revenge”, Ms Gillard’s decision to leave politics - including her electorate in Northern Melbourne, Lalor - is one of grace and dignity.
Who’s Who of Australian Women recognises and honours Julia Gillard’s time and efforts in leading the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Federal Government, and celebrates the history-making, ground-breaking achievement of being the nation’s first female Prime Minister.
Born Julia Eileen Gillard on September 29, 1961, to John Oliver and Moira Gillard, Ms Gillard grew up in the coastal town of Barry, Wales, in the United Kingdom, before her family migrated to Australia in 1961.
Ms Gillard attended Unley High School on the outskirts of Adelaide, and after completing her secondary studies, she went on to study a Bachelor of Arts and Law at the University of South Australia and later at the University of Melbourne.
Throughout her academic life, Ms Gillard excelled at debating and became heavily involved in student politics. She was the university’s first Student Council President.
Ms Gillard began her professional career in 1987, working with law firm Slater & Gordon in Melbourne. It was here that she specialised in industrial law and became the first woman to be offered a partnership within the firm in 1990.
Craving more of a challenge and hankering for a career change into politics, Ms Gillard resigned from Salter & Gordon and became (the then) Victorian Opposition Leader John Brumby’s Chief of Staff in 1996. After two previous attempts to run for the Senate, she won the Melbourne seat of Lalor in 1998.
Ms Gillard served as Shadow Minister for Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs and Population and Immigration between 2001 and 2003, before leaping higher up into the then Opposition, eventually becoming Kevin Rudd’s Deputy Opposition Leader and later, Deputy Prime Minister when the Australian Labor Party won the 2007 election.
In 2010, Ms Gillard made history by gaining a favoured majority to lead the party and ousted her superior, Kevin Rudd, out of the top job.
As Prime Minister, Ms Gillard endured many conflicts, particularly from the media and from deep within her own political party. She faced bitter Rudd supporters who believed she had ‘knifed’ her former boss and endured criticism across social media for her de facto relationship with her partner Tim Mathieson, her choice of dress style and for publicity over her hobbies outside of work, most recently her penchant for knitting.
Throughout her Prime Ministerial career, she helped achieve several key political reforms covering areas of health, education and climate change, however, it was Ms Gillard’s speech on misogyny, that directly attacked Opposition Leader of the Liberal Party, Tony Abbott, earlier this year that placed her with a feminist following and propped her as a legendary female figure in modern Australian society.
“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,” she said
“If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror.”
Since Ms Gillard’s departure from the Parliament last night, social media, including Twitter and Facebook, has flooded with mixed reactions on how the looming September election and the wellbeing of the Labor Party will eventuate.
In contrast, however, social media has also been lauded with outpourings of support and celebration for Ms Gillard.
In her farewell speech last night, Ms Gillard reflected on her time in Parliament and the legacy she has left for future women paving careers in Australian politics.
“What I am absolutely confident of, is that it will be easier for the next woman, and the woman after that and the woman after that, and I’m proud of that,” she said.
Who’s Who of Australian Women thanks Julia Gillard for her time in politics and her work in Parliament as Prime Minister of Australia.
Sources: ABC News, The Guardian, Mirror News, NBC World News
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