12 March 2024

Government launches first national strategy for gender equality

| Chris Johnson
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Minister for Women Katy Gallagher launched the government’s strategy for gender equality in her address to the National Press Club. Photo: Chris Johnson.

The Federal Government has marked International Women’s Day with a plan aimed at “creating a better, gender-equal Australia for everyone”.

Released by Minister for Women Katy Gallagher, the Working for Women: A Strategy for Gender Equality outlines where the government will focus its efforts over the next decade to achieve gender equality.

The strategy states its vision is for an Australia where people are safe, treated with respect, have choices and access to resources, and have equal outcomes regardless of gender.

“This strategy responds to what women and others across the Australian community told the government in a consultation process involving thousands of people and organisations,” the strategy document says.

“The lived experience and expertise shared in these consultations made it clear that while Australia has come a long way in recent years and decades, there is an urgent need for change.”

There are six fundamental principles guiding the strategy:

  • Gender equality is a human right. It is necessary for the dignity and full potential of all people
  • Gender equality benefits everyone, and everyone is responsible for bringing about change
  • Efforts to drive gender equality must be inclusive and intersectional
  • Efforts to drive gender equality for First Nations Australians must be led by First Nations Australians
  • Action on gender equality must be evidence-based and informed by lived experience, and
  • Gender equality must be considered from the outset and must include diverse representation in decision-making, design and implementation of solutions.

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The plan discusses where investments can be made to improve women’s safety.

It points to significant industrial relations changes, targets for women on government boards and changes to government procurement rules making it harder for businesses without a staff gender balance to win contracts.

The strategy also commits to addressing gender bias in the health system.

Launching the plan during an address to the National Press Club on Thursday, Senator Gallagher also announced the government’s plan to add superannuation to government-paid Paid Parental Leave from 1 July next year.

In a powerful speech, Senator Gallagher said while much has been achieved for gender equality in Australia over the past decades, much remains to be done.

“Despite it being 2024, women in Australia still face barriers which mean they work less, earn less, and retire with less,” she said.

“And when they take time out of work for children, ‘the motherhood penalty’ kicks in.

“Women are less likely to work in senior management positions and more likely to work in insecure part-time roles where the pay is less, and the work is less valued.

“Women experience unfathomably high rates of domestic, family and sexual violence – with more than one in two women experiencing sexual harassment in their lifetime and a quarter of women having experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.”

She added that First Nations women are six times more likely to die from assault related to family violence than non-Indigenous women.

She said it was “absolutely chilling” that since 1989, more than 2369 women were killed in Australia by their intimate partner or other family members.

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“In developing this strategy, it was incredibly important that it wasn’t just another bureaucratic document or words on a page,” Senator Gallagher said.

“Because women in this country don’t need another empty promise. They need action and accountability.

“For our government, Working for Women is a commitment to the women and girls of Australia.

“To a little girl who is born today, that by the time you go to school, you won’t have preconceived ideas about girl jobs and boy jobs.

“That by the time you choose the subjects you study, you don’t self-select out of maths or science and technology if that’s what you’re interested in.

“That as you grow up, you and your male peers learn about respectful relationships and enthusiastic consent rather than how women should protect themselves and their friends from the threat of violence.

“That you aren’t paid less because of your gender – and that, if you make the choice to have children, that this decision won’t impact on your future earnings, and that you’ll be able to retire with security.

“This is the real, human story of what Working for Women is written to achieve.

“And while our focus is on women, this is not only about women. The national strategy envisions a future of equality in Australia – for all Australians.”

Original Article published by Chris Johnson on Riotact.

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