Natasha Stott Despoja is Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls, and 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 Indo-Pacific region. She works closely with foreign governments, international organisations and civil society 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 is the former Ambassador for Women and Girls (2013-2016). As the Ambassador, Ms Stott Despoja travelled extensively throughout the Indo-Pacific region to promote women's economic empowerment, leadership and an end to violence against women and girls internationally. Ms Stott Despoja was a World Bank Gender Advisory Council member (2015-2017) and served on the 2017 UN High Level Working Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents. In 2001, she was made a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum. She is also the founding Chair of Our Watch (the Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children).
Ms Stott Despoja has represented Australia at international meetings such as the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the APEC Women and the Economy Forum, the UN Security Council Open Debate on Women Peace and Security, the Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict, the G(irls) 20 Summit and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children.
Ms Stott Despoja is a former Senator for South Australia (1995-2008) and former Leader of the Australian Democrats, and is both the youngest woman ever to enter the Australian Federal Parliament and 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 audio description and captioning services.
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 and Cambodia.
In recognition of her service to the Australian Parliament, to education and as a role model for women, in 2011, Ms Stott Despoja was made a Member of the Order of Australia.
Ms Stott Despoja is the former Deputy Chair of beyondblue, a former non-executive Board member and patron of the Burnet Institute, and has served on the boards of the South Australian Museum (2009-2013), the Advertising Standards Board (2008-2013) and the Museum of Australian Democracy (2010-2013). She was an Ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Australia, and is an Ambassador for The Orangutan Project and the HIV/AIDS anti-stigma campaign, ENUF.
Ms Stott Despoja is an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow at The University of Adelaide, a member of the Prime Minister's Referendum Council (2015 -17), a Broad Agenda 50:50 by 2030 Advisory Group member; a Director of Carrie Bickmore's Beanies for Brain Cancer, a member of the Global Women's Institute Leadership Council and is on the SA Rhodes Scholarship committee.
She is a columnist for The Adelaide Advertiser.