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Global Citizen Australia Board Director and former Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls Natasha Stott Despoja has successfully won a spot on the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women following an unprecedented campaign.

The former South Australian senator will work alongside 22 other independent experts to initiate inquires into systemic violations of women’s rights, formulate gender equality recommendations and monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women by 189 member states.

Stott Despoja, also the chair of world-leading violence prevention organisation Our Watch, will be the committee’s first Australian member in almost three decades.

She will be the only expert serving from the Oceania region.

Stott Despoja has thanked her supporters, including Foreign Affairs Minister and Minister for Women Marise Payne, for their continued confidence after she was forced to run almost the entirety of her election campaign over Zoom in South Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My heartfelt thanks to many, especially Payne, for championing this bid. I pledge to serve with independence, diligence and compassion,” she tweeted. “This bid saw extraordinary interagency cooperation and goodwill. Thank you for your hard work, passion and faith in me.” 

Payne said Stott Despoja's election win would “build on Australia's global leadership in advancing women's rights.”

"Stott Despoja's candidacy was supported by the Australian Government following an open, merit-based selection process,” she said in a statement. “Australia has a proud record of advocacy on gender equality with a focus on ending violence against women and girls, promoting women's economic empowerment and enhancing women's leadership choices.”

Alongside her work championing women’s rights in Australia and around the world, Stott Despoja herself has made Australian women’s history as the youngest woman ever to enter Australia’s Federal Parliament and the longest ever serving senator for the Australian Democrat party.

Stott Despoja joined Global Citizen in 2018 and has passionately supported campaigns like Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, One World: Together at Home and Global Goal: Unite for Our Future. The funds raised during these campaigns have gone on to support programs intended at decreasing HIV risk for women and girls, advancing fundamental maternity services and improving menstrual health management in South Africa

In the same year, Stott Despoja was announced as one of the world’s top 100 most influential individuals on gender equality. 


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By Madeleine Keck