What is it about Julia Gillard? As Australia’s first female Prime Minister she was both loved and loathed. Once the nation’s most taunted political figure, she also captured more hearts and shaped more female ambition than possibly any other woman in Australian history.
So, what has her rollercoaster ride taught us about how turbulent the world really is for women? And what has the chaos of 2020 and an enforced period of reflection taught her while she bunkered down in her Adelaide home?
In this special episode of BroadTalk, ahead of Series 2 in 2021, Julia and I do quite a bit of reflecting. Something that she once said she was not prone to do. But she’s wrong. Her book ‘Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons’, released in August 2020, could be read as an ode to the power of self reflection.
The status and power of women has shifted significantly since I first sat down to interview Julia Gillard over a decade and a half ago. Back then our first discussion was focused on women’s choices around fertility and the choice to be childless. She later very graciously launched my book on the subject at the National Press Club in 2005. At that time, Julia was a self described “active and analytical feminist”, but as she now says in 2020 she was “not a sensitive one.”
Propelled by energetic ambition, as her own star was rising, Julia was clearly keen to see more women in leadership, but didn’t necessarily see her role as the woman to help ensure they got there. She is very frank and typically honest about this in her book, which underscores the power of her years of reflection, when she admits, “I didn’t really think about what would shift” when more women were at the leadership and decision making table. Fast forward to 2020 and she now doesn’t stop thinking about it!
Gillard founded the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership in 2018, at Kings College London. She has traversed continents ever since as a sell-out speaker and global leader, energising packed audiences with her passion for women and girls education, leadership and empowerment. She’s fated like a rock star at many of those events and is enthusiastically welcomed by leaders around the world.
Despite the relentless battering she received from mainstream media and misogynist colleagues, not to mention a foul army of people led by mantras to “ditch the witch” and “bury the bitch”, Julia Gillard has gone on to become Australia’s most successful post-PM global states-person. When it comes to gracious service and selflessness, she is certainly the most inspiring!
BroadTalk Seres 2, ‘Gender Equality: Are We There Yet?” launches late January 2021. Subscribe to BroadTalk wherever you get your podcasts, so you don’t miss the next bevy of fascinating national and global thinkers and leaders. Join the BroadTalk facebook group BroadTalk RoundTable and tell us what you think and who you would like to see featured on BroadTalk.