PREMIER’S SPEECH – UN International Women’s Day Lunch

Premier and Minister for the Olympic and Paralympic Games The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

This week marks two years since Australian women showed the world what we’re made of.

A decade of escalating sexism brought women – and men – onto the streets in a way I will never forget.

Brittany Higgins.

Grace Tame.

You’ll recall the then-Prime Minister said we should be grateful no-one was shot.

A tin ear in a lead balloon.

All that frustration and anger carried through to the subsequent federal election that changed the electoral landscape, perhaps forever.

But I am here to tell you friends, in the words of another former Prime Minister and possibly one of this nation’s greatest leaders: maintain your rage.

Throughout history, the benefits gained by the marginalised have not come because of the generosity of their oppressors.

They have been hard-fought for and won.

Internationally: at great risk and cost.


In Afghanistan, 35 women and girls were killed when their school was bombed last September.

This is 10 years after Taliban gunmen shot Malala Yousafzai for the crime of speaking up about the right of girls to be educated.

In 2021, the Afghan Women’s Affairs Ministry was replaced with the Ministry of the Propagation of Virtue.

It instantly:

  • ordered women to cover their faces in public
  • Halted the issuing of drivers’ licences to women and ruled they could only use public transport if accompanied by a man and if they sit behind a curtained-off section of the bus
  • Banned women from public parks
  • Instructed women employed in the Finance Ministry to send male relatives to replace them

For their own safety, their protests, including the basic human right of allowing girls to go to school, can only be seen using the anonymity of social media.


In Iran, decades of resentment and repression exploded last September after the arrest and death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini.

Mahsa was killed for displaying a few strands of hair outside her hijab.

Despite living under one of the most repressive regimes on the planet, thousands of women burned their hijabs.

The chant of ‘Women Life Freedom’ continues to defy authorities there and, is now being echoed in Afghanistan.

Although life here is nowhere near the same, it is a cause we too should take up because wherever women are denied basic human rights ALL women should join the fight.

I am supposed to use these brief minutes addressing today’s theme: Cracking the Code.

In it I could tell you of:

  • The free TAFE programs we offer women and unpaid carers to get back into the workforce
  • The $20,000 we give employers to employ disadvantaged workers or
  • The 34,000 women who received government assistance to get back into the workforce or
  • The women who make up more than 50% of government boards and senior roles including the Director General of my own Department of Premier and Cabinet

I could even highlight to you that, in Queensland, the highest offices of Governor, Premier, Chief Justice and Police Commissioner are, for the first time ever, all women.

But I imagine none of that matters much to a single mother trying to raise her children on the wrong side of advantage.

Or to those in Afghanistan and Iran.

No. Cracking the Code to Equality means demanding it.

There can be no equality until ALL women are equal and free.

Governments, especially one lead by a woman, do what we can but we must summon and continue to summon the activism that drew us to the streets two years ago.

As Maya Angelou says: first gain the strength to stand up for yourself, then use it to stand up for others.

For First Nations Peoples.

For victims of domestic and family violence.

For the underpaid and overworked.

For people with disabilities.

For Carers.

For the Aged.

For a Voice.

For Afghanistan.

For Iran.







Maintain Your Rage.

/Public Release. View in full here.