Australia

Women in parliament to hit record high but 'long way to go' until gender parity

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Women are set to make up more than a third of federal MPs.

The next federal parliament is set to have a record number of women but Australia still has a "long way to go" until it achieves gender parity in its corridors of power.

After Saturday's election, female candidates are on track to win at least 81 of the 227 seats across both houses, meaning women will make up roughly 35 per cent of parliament.

In the last parliament, roughly 31 per cent of MPs were women.

Zali Steggall in Sydney on Sunday.
Zali Steggall in Sydney on Sunday.

According to an analysis by SBS News, there will be at least 45 women in the lower house, five more than the last election.

This includes 27 for Labor, 13 for the Coalition and three from minor parties or Independents.

Both Liberal and Labor candidates in the close contests of Macquarie and Chisholm are women, meaning two more women are set to be MPs.

And Bass could still go to Labor's Bridget Archer. 

In the Senate, the number of women has gone from 30 to 36, with 15 for Labor, 13 for the Coalition and the rest for minor parties and Independents.

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Zali supporters celebrate Warringah win
Zali supporters celebrate Warringah win

Other close seats could also be won by women in the upper house.

In the leadup with the election, some critics highlighted the Coalition's "women problem".

The government is now set to have at least 26 total women in parliament, up from 21.

New female MPs for the Coalition include Fiona Martin in Reid, Melissa McIntosh in Lindsay and Hollie Hughes in the Senate.

While Labor is on track to have at least 42 women elected. Women make up nearly half of Labor's federal politicians after the party introduced quotas in the 1990s.

Fiona Martin, the new member for Reid.
Fiona Martin, the new member for Reid.
AAP

And Zali Steggall will be one of the highest-profile Independents, after taking down Tony Abbott in Warringah.

'Slow progress'

A lecturer at ANU's School of Politics and International Relations, Dr Katrine Beauregard, told SBS News that Australia still has a "long way to go".

"It's obviously an improvement, it's a small increase, on the one hand it's good, but on the other hand it's very slow progress," Dr Beauregard said.

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Markets react to the surprise election result
Markets react to the surprise election result

She said at this rate Australia may "have to wait another 20 or 30 years before we get full parity".

"If we look at the trends over the last 20 or 30 years, the progress has been very incremental and that is basically what this election is showing."

Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek
Labor's Senator Penny Wong and Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek.
AAP

Australia has historically had a lower representation of women in parliament compared with other Western democracies.

"We're not close to a Scandinavian country where you have about 45 per cent [women]," Dr Beauregard said.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union previously ranked Australia joint 48th in the world for gender representation in its Lower House along with Peru and Angola.

Dr Beauregard said Australia is very far off being "top of the class" on this front.

"We're not terrible, but we're not leading the world either," she said.

Late in the campaign, an Essential Research poll commissioned exclusively for SBS News found that almost half of Australians thought the country would benefit from having more female MPs.

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