Larissa Waters: “In 2016 we should not be afraid to call ourselves feminists – we should be proud.”

Women have fought too long and too hard in the feminist movement for misogynists to feel they can claim the term and for successful women to see it as a risk.

Last night on Q and A, Alan Jones, who infamously declared women in power were “destroying the joint” said he hoped he was a feminist, while the Minister for Women said “I don’t label myself”.

Larissa Waters women's house
Senator Waters on International Women’s Day. Image: Supplied.

While proclamations of feminism by the likes of Alan Jones and Tony Abbott, who have publicly aired their anti-women attitudes, are met with scoffs and disbelief, these high-profile men nonetheless feel entitled to describe themselves in this way.

However, high-profile women, like Minister Cash and Minister Bishop, who have more credibility on gender equality are distancing themselves from feminism.

Larissa Waters supplied women's house
Senator Waters at the Women’s House in Brisbane. Image: Supplied.

Could it be that women feel they are more likely to be criticised for declaring they are feminists than men feel they will be?

If that is the case, it’s tragic, and part of the solution is for powerful women to proudly claim the title – the honour – of being a feminist and being considered one.

This image cannot be copied, re-sold, re-distributed, framed, linked or used in any manner for compensation, financial or otherwise, without the prior written permission of AUSPIC. auspic@finance.gov.au PH 0419 250 694.. david foote@finance.gov.au
The women of the Senate. Image: Supplied.

Feminism belongs to those who believe in equality for women.

Advertisement

Australia has a long and proud feminist history and I believe most Australians genuinely do believe in equality for women, although we must increase awareness of how far we still have to go to achieve equality.

Women are being murdered in their homes every week. Many who try to leave before they are killed are being turned away from crowded women’s shelters and left homeless.

Abortion is still considered a crime in some cases in New South Wales and Queensland and over a third of young people think sexual assault can be victim’s fault.

Women are being fired or refused work because they are pregnant. They are still getting paid less – about a quarter less in total remuneration – even though increasingly women have higher levels of education than men.

larissa fb
Senator Waters. Image: Supplied.

It starts early – with girls being paid less pocket money – and spans women’s lifetimes, until many are forced to retire in poverty – sixty per cent of women aged 65–69 have no superannuation at all.

We need feminism now as much as we ever have.

Feminism – the fight for gender equality – must be a key focus of the Parliament so that we can finally achieve equality for Australian women and for women overseas, especially in our Pacific region.

In 2016 we should not be afraid to call ourselves feminists – we should be proud.

Qld Senator Larissa Waters is the Australian Greens Deputy Leader and spokesperson for women.

Watch: this International Women’s Day, people share the women who inspire us.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION