Thursday, 29 February 2024

Committee for Adelaide IWD Event

I am pleased to join you to mark International Women’s Day and to discuss how gender equality can be pursued through the economic empowerment of women.

As patron of the Committee for Adelaide, I am pleased to support its role as an important advocate not only on economic issues, but social and community ones as well.

These factors are deeply connected, and crucially important if we are to maintain and grow our position as one of the world’s most liveable cities.

As Governor, gender equality is one of my priority areas, and I am proud of our state’s history as a leader in this space.

And yet I recognise, and think we all do, that there is still some way to go.

The release of gender pay gap data this week has drawn attention to an aspect of inequality where transparency and community expectations can be expected to drive needed change, including here in South Australia.

Data shows too that there is much work to be done, urgently, to reduce the incidence of physical and/or sexual violence against girls and women.

During my career as a diplomat, I saw the benefits in other countries of Australia’s development assistance programs empowering women economically and creating safer working environments. For example, the creation of markets in Port Moresby where women could bring vegetables they had grown in the Highlands, sleep safely under their stalls at night and sell their produce in the morning.

Back home in Canberra where, as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, I led implementation of a Women in Leadership Strategy, I also saw the value of transparent data measuring progress, of tackling unconscious bias and everyday sexism, of a wider view of merit, of widespread consultation, of enlisting the support of allies, of listening when there was pushback, and of generous leadership.

I saw the value of cultural change in unlocking the potential of our world-wide staff with diverse backgrounds and many talents and I learned much from my membership of the Champions of Change Coalition, led by Liz Broderick, and Chief Executive Women.

I am confident that the economic empowerment of women in South Australia can be accelerated through the efforts of us all if we are ready to seize opportunities and share what we learn with each other.


I thank our panellists for their participation today, as well as Committee for Adelaide staff for coordinating this event.

Thank you to our audience for supporting the Committee as members and sponsors, and I’m pleased to see proceeds from today benefiting the Zahra Foundation, of which I am also patron.

I wish you a meaningful International Women’s Day, and I look forward to working with you all as we continue to pursue gender equality in South Australia.

Coming events