By RICHARD SHEARS
It was one small step for woman – and it wasn’t very successful as Australian Prime Minister fell flat on her face when her heel became stuck in the grass in India.
Julia Gillard was on a goodwill visit to India when she took the tumble in what was her third faux pas involving her shoes this year.
She famously lost a blue suede shoe during an Aboriginal demonstration in Canberra in January and just two months ago she slipped out of one of her high heels while walking on stage at a function at Sydney’s Custom House.
Now she’s gone down again, this time following a visit to the Gandhi Memorial in New Delhi on the final day of her three-day state visit to India.
She was being escorted to the Presidential Palace by a group of officials when she suddenly fell forward heavily onto the grass, landing on her hands and knees.
As aides turned to help her up she told them: ‘I’m fine. My heel got stuck in grass.’
Later she laughed off the incident, explaining that unlike men who wore flat shoes, it was an occupational hazard for women wearing modest heels.
‘I’m fine,’ she repeated. ‘For men who get to wear flat shoes all day every day, if you wear a heel it can get embedded in soft grass and when you pull your foot out the shoe doesn’t come and the rest of it is as you saw.’
When someone suggested that perhaps she could wear boots to prevent similar mishaps she brushed the idea aside.
That, she said, would lead to all kinds of fashion critiques in Australia where she would be faulted for wearing boots with a skirt.
Of the three shoe incidents she has been involved in this year, the tumble in Delhi was the most spectacular.
But as drama goes, the day she was surrounded by angry protesters in Canberra was the most frightening, with minders whisking her away from the shouting.
Behind her she left that blue sued shoe which some demonstrators threatened to sell on eBay – before it was returned to her.