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 Asia-Pacific region.
The Ambassador works closely with foreign governments and international organisations 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 Stott Despoja was appointed Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls on 16 December 2013. She is also the founding Chairperson of the Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children.
As a former Senator for South Australia (1995-2008) and former Leader of the Australian Democrats, Ms Stott Despoja was, at the time of her election, the youngest woman ever to enter the Australian Federal Parliament. She held the positions of Australian Democrats' Leader and Deputy Leader and is 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 captioning.
Through her work as a non-executive Director at The Burnet Institute, Ms Stott Despoja has travelled to Southeast Asia to raise awareness on maternal and child health and other public health issues. She has also travelled to Burkina Faso to look at the impacts of the country's food crisis, especially on children. 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.