Melania Trump, the allegedly reluctant wife of the president, mistook Australia’s former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for the wife of a politician, according to a story shared by Bishop on Saturday. In front of an audience at the Adelaide Festival, Bishop — who served from 2013 to 2018 as Australia’s equivalent of Secretary of State — said that Melania thought her partner was the Foreign Minister, after President Trump began talking to him at a UN event in 2017:
“Melania, standing by, assumed David was the foreign minister and she said to me: ‘Julie, will you be coming to my ladies’ lunch tomorrow?’ And I said ‘No, David’s going to the partners’ lunch’. She thought about that for a while, thinking: ‘Why would Australia’s foreign minister come to the partners’ lunch?’ So this went on for a while until the president explained that I was the foreign minister.”
Since leaving the foreign minister position last year, Bishop has advocated for a huge expansion of the role women play in Australian politics. In 2013, Bishop was the only woman of a 19-member cabinet. “This isn’t fine, this is not completely normal,” she described the situation on Saturday. In 2018, Bishop said that female members of Parliament were forced to deal with “appalling behavior.” “It is evident that there is an acceptance of a level of behavior in Canberra that would not be tolerated in any other workplace in Australia,” Bishop said. Currently, Australia’s Parliament is 32 percent women.
That’s slightly better representation than in America, where women make up one in four senators and 23.4 percent of the House. Considering the professional company her husband keeps, Melania Trump could be forgiven for her assumption regarding Bishop and her partner: there are only five women currently in Trump’s cabinet. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, Trump’s cabinet lags behind the last five presidents in gender representation. Even in the “Year of the Woman,” the number of Republican women in the House is at a 25-year-low: of the new and returning GOP lawmakers in the midterm class, only 13 are women.