News National Don’t call me a feminist, says Julie Bishop
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Don’t call me a feminist, says Julie Bishop

Julie Bishop
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Australia’s most powerful woman, Julie Bishop, doesn’t like the F-word.

Feminist, that is.

“It’s not a term that I find particularly useful these days,” the foreign minister told a group of women in Canberra on Wednesday.

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Launching the Women in Media networking club, the only female cabinet minister in the Abbott government said she would not call herself a feminist.

But she did not reject the term entirely.

“It’s not a way I describe myself,” Ms Bishop said, adding she was first and foremost a parliamentarian.

Her reasoning is arguably similar to one made by former prime minister Julia Gillard, who on her elevation to the top post in 2010 waved away the feminism fanfare saying she was focused on the job.

Julie Bishop with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo: Getty
Julie Bishop with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo: Getty

But Ms Bishop – who has been touted as a future prime minister – said Ms Gillard turned herself into a victim, something she would never do.

The Gillard-speech similarities did not stop there.

“The challenge I have set for myself is to do the very best I can to make it easier for those who will follow me,” Ms Bishop said, acknowledging she was the only woman in cabinet.

It’s a similar line used by Ms Gillard when she was deposed from the Labor leadership in 2013.

Ms Bishop joins fellow senior Liberal Michaelia Cash – who was also at the launch along with the prime minister’s chief of staff Peta Credlin – in distancing herself from the feminist movement.

However, the minister defended the record of coalition women saying they were doing a “wonderful job” to empower women into leadership roles.

Proof of that is a new networking group Ms Credlin is launching for female government staffers.

Another is Ms Bishop’s focus on women’s rights and education in developing countries.

It was for that reason – and because of her privileged background – she would not be drawn into a debate on the glass ceiling.

Nor would she ever see herself a victim of misogyny.

“I’m a female politician; I’m a female foreign minister,” Ms Bishop said.

“Get over it.”

The Australian Greens said they were disappointed with the minister’s comments about feminism.

“Feminism is about equality,” Greens senator Larissa Waters said.

“Why is it so hard for the Abbott government’s most senior female members to be part of that?”

– AAP

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