28 July 2023


FRIDAY 28 JULY, 2023

Thank you very much for that introduction and can I also begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet.

To my Ministerial colleagues – Senator Wong, Minister Wells, Senator Watt, to Ambassador Rudd, to the Premier and your Ministers, to our ministers and friends from right around the world and your delegations – friends, it’s lovely to be with you here this morning and have to the opportunity to make a few remarks.

To Fatma Samoura – I’m going to have to add you to the list of people that I should not speak after. I have a long list – it’s just got longer.

But thank you for your wonderful address and I can only imagine what it was like for you day one, seven years ago and you have an incredible list of achievements for you and your team. Thank you for everything.

It’s great to be with you here this morning, following on from a remarkable evening last night – which as Penny said, did not return the result we wanted but what we witnessed was extraordinary athleticism and leadership from two incredible teams of women athletes.

As Minister for Women, I see the hard yards that FIFA is putting in to increase women and girls’ participation in sport.

It is work that will have an impact more widely across sport, and it will have positive impact on gender equality and respect and recognition of women across our community more broadly.

So I want to acknowledge that important work and thank FIFA for all they are doing to address gender inequality in a strategic way and for showing the leadership that they have over many years, including through growing events such as the Women’s World Cup.

It wasn’t that long ago that you’d have to look very hard to even find any mention of a women’s sport in the media but in the last decade, there has been a revolution in women’s sport and it turns out the audience was there all along, not to mention the talent!

With record sales and sell out stadiums, this is the biggest sporting event in the world in 2023 and Australia is so proud to co-host this event and so proud of our national team, the Matildas.

As Minister for Women – it’s fantastic to see the incredible athletes in the spotlight at this competition. After all, the saying “If you can’t see it – you can’t be it” is as true of women in sport as it is in any part of our society.

There are so many reasons to encourage young women and girls to play sport: confidence, friendship, health, community and leadership all come from participation in sporting teams.

As I said at the outset, FIFA's Women’s Football Strategy to promote and invest in women’s sport is to be applauded. Increasing the level of female participation in football all over the world is central to this strategy – as is aiming high.

FIFA’s goal of having 60 million female players by 2026 is certainly ambitious and aiming high.

And as we have seen in the sporting codes, in tournaments like the Women’s World Cup you must be deliberate if you want to bring about change.

FIFA’s Strategy five years ago was a global first and as Australia’s Minister for Women, I am currently working across our government to develop our first National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality.

And I think our strategies have similar origins – acknowledging that we can’t just hope for the best, that you need a strategy, and a goal and leadership, and you must make the investment in women – to level the playing field, to invest in and recognise women so we can make that change. 

In developing a National Strategy for Gender Equality, we are  aiming to improve life for women and to make Australia the most gender equal country in the world. 

This strategy will be about a fair go for everyone, regardless of their gender. We are looking at all aspects of life for women – from safety to pay, to stereotypes and attitudes that restrict choice, to how women’s labour and leadership is valued.

And we have a lot to learn by looking at how sport and sporting organisations have been addressing gender equality in their codes.

In the FIFA strategy, with its focus on working across access and investment, leadership and attitudes, I can see features that resonate with the thinking that we are doing here in Australia to advance gender equality. 

And just as FIFA’s strategy guides work with confederations and member associations, clubs and players, the media, fans and other stakeholders, we know that we will need to work across government, business, industry, schools, churches, communities – and sport – to make real progress. 

This really does need to be a team effort.

So there’s a lot of work to be done on achieving gender equality, but what has been done in the sporting world is a real example and inspiration.

And I know that this Women’s World Cup will be another key step along that road to progress.

Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard for putting this symposium together. Thank you all for everything you do and the opportunity to speak briefly this morning.