Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls
The Ambassador for Women and Girls is responsible for high-level advocacy to promote Australian Government policies and activity regarding gender equality and the social, political and economic empowerment of women and girls, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. The Ambassador works closely with foreign governments, international organisations and civil society to support measures that: eradicate violence against, and trafficking of, women and girls; promote better educational and health outcomes; protect women and girls in conflict and promote the role of women in peace-building; eliminate discrimination; and enhance the participation of women in decision-making and leadership.
Ms Natasha Stott Despoja was appointed Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls on 16 December 2013. She is also the founding Chairperson of Our Watch (the Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children). As Ambassador for Women and Girls, Ms Stott Despoja has travelled extensively throughout the Indo-Pacific region to promote women’s leadership, economic empowerment and an end to violence against women and girls. She has represented Australia at international meetings such as the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the APEC Women and the Economy Forum, the UN Security Council Open Debate on Women Peace and Security, the Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict, the G(irls) 20 Summit and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children.
Ms Stott Despoja is a former Senator for South Australia (1995-2008) and former Leader of the Australian Democrats, and is both the youngest woman ever to enter the Australian Federal Parliament and the longest-serving Democrat Senator in the party’s history. Throughout her career, Ms Stott Despoja has made a contribution to a wide-range of policy debates. During her political career, she introduced Private Member’s Bills on issues including paid maternity leave, the Republic, genetic privacy and stem cells, data privacy, and audio description and captioning services.
Ms Stott Despoja has an enduring interest in women's leadership, particularly political and parliamentary leadership, and has previous experience as an election monitor in countries such as Nigeria and Cambodia. In recognition of her service to the Australian Parliament, to education and as a role model for women, in 2011, Ms Stott Despoja was made a Member of the Order of Australia.
Ms Stott Despoja is the former Deputy Chair of beyondblue, a former non-executive Board member of The Burnet Institute, and has served on the boards of the South Australian Museum, the Advertising Standards Board and the Museum of Australian Democracy. She was an Ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Australia, and is an Ambassador for The Orangutan Project and the HIV/AIDS anti-stigma campaign, ENUF. She is a columnist for The Adelaide Advertiser.