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Case studies

Australia breaks records and tackles violence against women MPs

australian parliament

Parliament House of Australia

In 2022, Australia achieved record-breaking shares of women in both chambers of parliament, making it, along with New Zealand, the subregion with the highest average proportion of women MPs across both houses (46.4%).

The Senate of Australia was the only chamber to elect over 50% women in 2022 (56.6%). It became the highest-ranking upper house in the world in terms of women’s representation and one of only four upper chambers globally to exceed 50%.  The House of Representatives also hit a historic high, with 38.4% women elected. No legislated quotas exist, but several parties have voluntary quotas.

The 2022 election reversed a 20-year decline in Australia’s standing in IPU rankings of women in parliament. More women stood for election than ever before: they represented 40% of all candidates, up from 32% in 2016 and from less than 28% in 2013. Shifting political landscapes played a role, as opposition women candidates won as challengers to Liberal Party incumbents. The increase in women’s representation was driven by political alternatives offered by women running as climate-conscious independents known as “Teals” or as Australian Greens candidates. Notably, the share of women among independent candidates shot up from 22.7% in 2019 to 65.2% in 2022.

In Australia, toxic and unsafe work environments for women in parliament made major headlines before the elections. Women voters disproportionately turned away from the incumbent Liberal Party, citing the Liberal-National Coalition’s handling of women in politics as a leading issue. Allegations of sexual assault in parliament, increased awareness of how parliament is unsafe for women, and attacks by political candidates on trans women all contributed to driving this surge and are pressing policy conversations in the new parliament. In a report published in November 2022, a parliamentary committee recommended that MPs and staff adopt a commitment that bullying, sexual harassment, assault and discrimination will not be tolerated, condoned or ignored.