In Australia, our country has changed. Our federal election of November 2007 saw the end of a leader obsessed with economic growth at the expense of sustainability and social issues. Parliament resumed with a new leader who opened with a Welcome to Country from indigenous Australians, an apology to the Stolen Generation, a call to freeze the salary of parliamentarians and an appeal for bipartisan co-operation. It was an historic week. Our new Prime Minister has already signed the Kyoto Protocol, closed offshore detention centers, and promised to bring home our troops in Iraq. Next on the agenda is the repeal of industrial relations reform, which put all workers on individual contracts, essentially abandoning the gains of unions. Our country was heading towards a US model, but has now turned away from the problems which result from US policies. We have hope and pride under a new leader. I've noticed that even the school [parents' association] is more receptive to new ideas, and, not only because of the change of government but because of changing times, the country has become more interested in the environment and the health, education and wellbeing of all of us. And we have a female Deputy Prime Minister for the first time.
I also have been writing about the importance of mothers being politically engaged. Mothers could have more of a voice in shaping our broader culture. Isn't that was what an education is for? Isn't that what the history of campaigning for women's rights was leading us to? I always considered myself a feminist, but only after having children did I really understand at a physical level. I'm now a member of a political party and I spent the election day handing out How-to-Vote [information]. Mothers make huge adjustments to bear and raise children -- physical, economic, psychological, social -- and deserve their place at the decision-making table. The energy mothers put into all aspects of their children's development won't add up to much if in twenty years we don't have clean air, clean water, international stability, equal rights, social justice, family-friendly workplaces, and reduce the gap between rich and poor. These are the issues our children will question us about when they are adults.
Currently I am on a number of local committees and dealing with being asked to leave our dance school because I complained about the dances being inappropriately sexual; a matter I'm taking further. I'm reading, researching and writing, and looking for Australian forums in which to discuss the matters which concern me as a maternal feminist. The situation for mothers in Australia isn't as bad as in the US, and some of the issues raised in the US Mothers Movement don't apply here (our system of government is British based, voting is compulsory, and we have better social welfare programs), but some issues do, and there is more we could do about them. Like in the US, the most politically active thing that most mothers in Australia find time to do is to use their vote wisely. It is exciting to see what the new government brings. It is possible that motherhood will be a more valued and supported experience for my daughters.
Good on you for endorsing a candidate.