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Mon, 11 Mar, 2019Joanita Wibowo

Julia Gillard praises "passionate" Duchess Meghan

Julia Gillard praises "passionate" Duchess Meghan

Julia Gillard has praised the Duchess of Sussex for her passion in gender equality as she joined the British royal on an International Women’s Day panel.

On Friday, the former Australian prime minister participated in a panel at King’s College London to discuss women’s rights, feminism and gender equality.

Ahead of the event, Gillard told Hello! that she was excited to hear from Duchess Meghan.

"It will be great to hear her thoughts on how we move to that more gender-equal world," said Gillard.

"I know that she is someone who is very passionate about the cause of equality, as is Prince Harry, and he demonstrated that in his speech today and certainly revved up the crowd."

This was not the first time that Gillard worked with a member of the British royal family. 

"I also chaired the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Australia which the Queen plays such a special leadership role in," said the 57-year-old.

"I had some exposure to the royal family then but it is tremendous to see the way the young royal family is raising issues that need to be discussed and really inspiring young people – and I have witnessed that with my own eyes today."

Gillard also revealed the struggles she faced as Australia’s first female PM. "In my early days in politics even, I wouldn't say that it was that different for me because I was a woman. But once I got to the ultimate leadership position as prime minister, the first woman to serve, it clearly was a very gendered environment."

In 2012, Gillard's speech against sexism from her political opponent Tony Abbott was reported around the world.

"Currently, if we look at the parliaments of the world, only 23 per cent of parliamentarians are women and you can name the number of women leaders with your fingers," said Gillard.

"There is a lot of change that is necessary if we are going to be in a world where it is as routine to see a woman being a president and prime minister as it to see a man serving in those roles."

During the panel discussion – which was convened by the Queen's Commonwealth Trust and also joined by singer Annie Lennox, model Adwoa Aboah and British journalist Anne McElvoy – the Duchess talked about her hopes for her future baby.

The 37-year-old is expected to give birth in late April.

"I'd seen this documentary on Netflix about feminism and one of the things they said during pregnancy was, 'I feel the embryonic kicking of feminism'," the Duchess said. "I love that. So boy or girl or whatever it is, we hope that that's the case with our little bump."