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Julia Gillard: 'A better education'

Australia's first female leader talks to Al Jazeera on her time in office and her work on improving access to education.

Last updated: 17 May 2014 08:51
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Julia Gillard broke the highest glass ceiling in Australia as the country's first female prime minister.

During her three-year term, Gillard faced many political battles from within her own political party, from a patronising opposition and from an at times hostile public.

While she's known for having carried out several controversial education and environmental reforms, many have come to mark Gillard's term by one particular speech she gave to parliament in 2012:

We won't fundamentally change poverty in our world unless we invest in education.

- Julia Gillard, former Australian prime minister

"I say to the leader of the opposition, I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not. And the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever."

Her words were aimed at her political rival Tony Abbott - now Australia's prime minister - who had demanded that the speaker of parliament resign after the speaker had been accused of sexual harrassment. Gillard believed Abbott had been part of a campaign to denigrate her and make fun of her as a woman.

The speech went viral, taking on a power of its own. Women the world over applauded Gillard for speaking out so strongly and publicly about the personal and professional challenges they faced in their own daily lives.

Today, Gillard heads the Global Partnership for Education, and she recently visited Doha to take part in the "Educate a Child" summit, a Qatar-based initiative to significantly reduce the number of children worldwide who are missing out on their right to education.

Gillard says: "Our aim is systemic change where donor governments are playing their role, they are putting money into education. Developing country governments are stepping up and investing more of their own resources and education and we make sure that we are looking for all of the children in that nation to be in school."

Today, Gillard outlines her new challenges as she talks to Al Jazeera.

Talk to Al Jazeera  can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430 and 1930; Sunday: 1930; Monday: 1430.   

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Al Jazeera
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