‘Gender Equality in Australia’ by Jade Collins published in Great Health Guide (Jan 2017). Discover the importance of gender equality. Australia is ranked 24th in terms of gender equality compared to the rest of the world. Find out how you can support gender equality & make a difference in creating a more equal world for all.
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IMPACT: Gender Equality in Australia
By Jade Collins
WHY DO WE NEED GENDER EQUALITY AND HOW DOES AUSTRALIA PERFORM?
Gender equality is about women and men accessing the same human rights and opportunities. The United Nations has a goal of a life of dignity for all. However, did you know that no country in the world has achieved gender equality and that at current rates of progress Australia is forecast to achieve it in 2133?
If you consider Australia’s historical performance towards gender equality, we have made decent strides towards equality but more recently our progress has been relatively slow and it is of concern that it has actually reversed over the past decade. In 2013, Australia ranked 24th on a global index measuring gender equality, slipping from a high point of 15th in 2006.
SOME KEY STATISTICS:
-Women comprise 50.2% of the Australian population and around 46% of the workforce.
-There are only 23.6% women on ASX200 boards of directors, up from 8.3% in 2010.
-Our current gender pay gap is 16.2% (28.8% for Managers), despite that, gender pay equity was legislated to be ‘phased in’ by 1972. It has hovered between 15-18% for the last two decades.
-In September 2015, there were fewer big Australian companies run by women than by men named Peter.
-Women retire with 52% less superannuation than men.
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-Around 58% of Australia’s university graduates are women but only 67% of working aged women are currently in paid work, compared to 78% of men.
-One in three Australian women aged 15 years and over has experienced physical violence and nearly one in five has experienced sexual assault.
Decades of research highlight the benefits to society, community and business of achieving gender equality. Businesses are on average 15% more profitable once they have achieved a minimum of 30% of women in executive leadership. The Grattan Institute found that increasing female workforce participation by 6% has the potential to add $25 billion each year to the Australian economy.
HOW CAN WE ACHIEVE GENDER EQUALITY?
We should all support gender equality, because it helps build a better Australia by enhancing the wellbeing of women and men at home and at work. Provision of flexible working options for men and women by employers is key to people being able to balance and share caring responsibilities, for children or elders. Other recommended practices for employers include annual gender pay gap audits, setting gender diversity targets and reporting for leadership roles and formalised sponsorship and mentoring programs for women.
At a personal level, being aware of the facts surrounding gender equality and how unconscious bias and deeply ingrained societal gender stereotypes impacts our thinking, is also critical to changing our behaviour. Consider joining a women’s professional networking forum, if you haven’t already. These organisations provide excellent platforms for women’s professional development and to lift up and support each other’s aspirations.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE?
Fortunately, there are many people in Australia who are working hard to create gender equality. Some organisations to be aware of who advocate for and report on the progress of gender equality in Australia include:
United Nations Women
Workplace Gender Equality Agency
Australian Human Rights Commission
Australian Institute of Company Directors
Chief Executive Women
Women on Boards
Diversity Council of Australia
Male Champions of Change