Gender Equality

 “We need to see more women in positions of community and corporate leadership across the world” - Beijing, 2 April 2016


Kevin was brought up in a single-parent family after his father was killed in an accident when he was 11. 
Because of the discrimination he saw his mother having to deal with in rural Australia in the 60's and 70's, he has been a strong supporter of gender equality throughout his professional life.


While in political office, he brought about real change for women and girls. He introduced Australia's first paid parental leave scheme, giving financial support to lower and middle income women after giving birth. He also increased child care support so that families could get 50% refunds for their child care costs. These reforms made a real, practical difference for working women in his home country, Australia.


Kevin is also passionate about preventing violence against women and girls. As Prime Minister, he established Australia's first national anti-domestic violence strategy, which is now in its third phase of implementation, and a dedicated national council to support it. He was the first Australian Prime Minister to state loudly, clearly and definitively that:


"It is my gender – it is our gender – Australian men – that are responsible. And so the question is: what are we going to do about it?" - on domestic violence against women, Time for Action: The National Council's Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2009-2021, delivered May 2008


Kevin also brought about a big increase in the representation of women in the highest levels of Australian politics. He appointed the first and so far only woman to serve as Australian Governor General (the equivalent of Head of State) in Australia's national political history. Women made up nearly a third of Kevin’s second Cabinet, still an Australian record. Kevin introduced Australia’s first National Strategy for Increased Participation of Women in Company Boards, which included a database of “board-ready” women, aimed at ensuring all company boards were aware of potential women candidates. Kevin initiated a “women’s leadership and development strategy” which funded 6 national women’s alliances in the NGO sector to engage with governments both at home and abroad to overcome gender inequality.



In addition while in office, he made international gender equality one of the ten core priorities of the Australian aid programThis directly led to significantly increased funding for maternal health, birthing kits, education for girls, better sanitation and water, increased women voter participation, enhanced women’s rights to land and inheritance, and a range of micro-finance initiatives to assist women starting up small businesses around the world.


The Rudd Government was one of the first funders of UN Women, and Kevin also appointed Australia's first Ambassador for Women and Girls, to help combat domestic violence in the South Pacific and elsewhere in the region.


130237_0735_Rudd(070813_Syd)-smallKevin believes international legal frameworks are important so that UN member states report on their efforts to lift the status of women and girls. The previous conservative government of Australia had refused to ratify the Optional Protocol of the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Kevin ordered this be done within his first year in office.


Since leaving office, Kevin has remained active in this critical area of justice for all.


"...there must be a global policy of Zero Tolerance of any form of violence against women, at any place, at any time, and whatever the circumstances..." - Beijing, 2 April 2016


Both in office and since leaving office, Kevin has also championed gender equity as a major driver of sustainable global economic growth.