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International Women’s Day 2024: Meryl Swanson

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For Paterson federal MP Meryl Swanson, International Women’s Day (IWD) offers a great focal point for the year. 

Not only is the popular politician one of three girls herself, but she’s also the mother of two daughters and the aunt of two young girls. 

Needless to say, Meryl is passionate about the topic. 

“Once a year we get to say, ‘you know, this is why it’s really important that women are part of all walks of life and that women are equal to men’,” she says. 

“When you look at the history of women, and where we’ve come from, it makes sense that we have a designated day where we publicly say we really need to include women in all decision making in all levels of society.

“To acknowledge they deserve to have a say, and they deserve to share the power. For almost a millennium we haven’t had that opportunity.” 

The numbers, she says, speak for themselves. 

“We’re still not paid equally to men,” Meryl adds.

“The latest figures show women’s pay on average is 89% of what men make, so we’ve still got 11% to go before we reach parity. 

“It has improved a hell of a lot, and that is brilliant. 

“At the end of the day, when women do well everyone does well.” 

The juggle between home and work tasks being undertaken by women on a daily basis are in Meryl’s mind admirable. 

“Women still do the lion’s share of life logistics,” she told the Newcastle Weekly

“And, we all know what life’s logistics are. It’s not just cooking the dinner and doing the laundry and cleaning the toilets.

“It’s getting the kids to the after-school activities, it’s dealing with the notes that come home, and organising the bills. 

“I’m not saying men don’t contribute, I’m not saying that at all, but let’s face it, when the rubber hits the road us girls, we’re still doing a lot of it, and that’s not a bad thing, but we just need to be recognised for it. 

“We also need to be teaching our next generation to jump in and help, too.” 

And, women in power? 

“It is really important that women get involved in politics because we often bring different skill sets, different life experience, we’ve often juggled lots of things and we’re very good at prioritising,” she says. 

“Women bring perspective and capabilities to the decision-making table and to the power table if you want to call it that. 

“Again, that’s a positive because it makes it better for everyone, you know, when we’re involved in the decision making, it helps the blokes as well, a problem shared is a problem halved.” 

Born and raised in Kurri Kurri, Meryl Swanson was elected to the House of Representatives as the first female Member for Paterson in 2016. 

She was re-elected in 2019 and 2022. 

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