Women rule in Shepparton

March 09, 2018

With gender equality thrown into the spotlight on International Women’s Day yesterday, it is clear there is still disparity when it comes to women in leadership roles.

Shepparton and the wider district, however, seem to be leading the charge with women holding positions of power throughout all levels of government.

State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed announced she would throw her hat in the ring for a second time for the seat in November’s Victorian election.

Ms Sheed has done a fantastic job supporting the region through her work in parliament after securing the seat four years ago in 2014.

It is no easy feat, both standing alone as an Independent candidate as well as making sure her voice is heard somewhere that for many years has been seen as a ‘boy’s club’.

This came after the seat was held by another woman — the National Party’s Jeanette Powell — who represented the electorate for 12 years from 2002 to 2014.

Furthermore, well-known Shepparton identity and leader Cheryl Hammer was also confirmed as the Liberal candidate for the coming state election.

It was encouraging to see the Shepparton businesswoman and community advocate put her hand up for the position after she has flourished in several other leadership roles.

Up until two years ago, at a Federal level the Murray electorate was led by female role model Sharman Stone.

Dr Stone was elected in 1996 and held the seat for 10 years, leaving the role after announcing her retirement in 2016.

If we turn to the local level of government, Greater Shepparton City Council also stands out when it comes to female leaders.

The council’s Mayor Kim O’Keeffe and Deputy Mayor Seema Abdullah have spoken on behalf of women and provide great inspiration to young women within the community.

And almost 50 per cent of Greater Shepparton’s councillors are female.

Given that a 2017 World Economic Forum’s report — Global Gender Gap — found that gender parity is more than 200 years away, there is clearly much more that can be achieved with women in the leadership space.

But the good news is that across the world women are making positive gains day by day and Shepparton and district residents can be proud of the fact that they have contributed to this.

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