On March 5, I spoke at the National Press Club to give the International Women’s Day address. During the address I expressed, as I do every year on International Women’s Day, that progress has been made in achieving gender equality – but there is still a long way to go.
What then, must we be focussing on in order to close the gender gaps in society? It is my belief that we should focus our energy, right here and right now – on three things. Closing the workforce participation gap, ensuring women have equal access to decision making and leadership roles, and ending violence against women. In doing this, women will be truly counted as equal, and we will all experience economic and social prosperity.
When asked at the Press Club whether Australian women have truly smashed the glass ceiling, both Senator Michaelia Cash and Senator Claire Moore responded with yes, and no. Both made the salient point that while some women have made it to the very top of leadership positions in this country, many more women experience barriers to participating fully in the workforce.
The gender pay gap still stands at 17.5%. Women are not being rewarded equally to men for their contributions in the workforce. Similarly, women are not rewarded for their emotional contribution in their household. As women take on the majority of caring responsibilities in the household, they are more likely to seek part-time work and take carer’s leave, meaning that women retire with far less superannuation than their male counterparts. Women report experiencing pregnancy discrimination in their workplace and find it difficult to re-enter the workforce after taking leave to care for their children.