Natacha Stott Despoja is Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, a role she was appointed to in 2013 by then Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop. A role that she describes as (an) “amazing opportunity to fight for these issues on a world stage, I feel very fortunate to be able to work in a field that had long been a passion of mine”.
Stott Despoja’s career has been one of great achievements already, she is part of the changing face of Australian politics. At just 26 Stott Despoja was the youngest woman to be elected to parliament, a significant feat in the actions representing gender equality. She later went on to become leader of the Australian Democrats, and still holds the achievement of being the party’s longest serving senator, retiring just before her 40th birthday.
In 2013 the offer to be the voice on a global scale for women and girls was something Stott Despoja could not refuse, “I’ve always been passionate about gender equality, the rights of women and girls, and now I’ve been given this.”
Stott Despoja lives in Adelaide with her three children and husband, former Liberal party advisor, Ian Smith. On the work-life balance, Stott Despoja’s priorities are clear, “Family is the most exciting, beautiful thing in my life. If there were a challenge between the two I’d probably give up work tomorrow. But while I feel i can make a difference, while I can make an impact on the world, the balance is right.” (Vogue Aus.)
Last year she travelled extensively around Asia, and attended the Global Summit of Women in Brazil. Burma was where Stott Despoja met Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma. Stott Despoja recently returned from Bolivia where Australian resources are funding a library being built for girls, to create a safe learning. Her work is relentless requiring active campaigning where she is confronted with the actions and outcomes of inequality, violence and injustice. In the plight for equality, there are a few issues at the forefront of Stott Despoja agenda; economic empowerment, leadership and eliminating violence against women and girls.