WOMEN earn less than their male counterparts, are more likely to be victims of sexual assault and are underrepresented on corporate boards.
Despite many positive achievements towards greater equality over the years, there is still work to be done, according to Women’s Health Loddon Mallee acting executive officer Chris Walters.
Today marks International Women’s Day – a day Ms Walters describes as a time to celebrate our local achievements and acknowledge that we still need to work together.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is Gender Agenda – Gaining Momentum.
“Over time the rights of women have progressed; however, there is still a need for championing
women’s equality,” Ms Walters said.
“The world we live is still not equal, hence the importance.”
Statistics show one in three central Victorian women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime; 55 Australian women a year die at the hands of their violent partners or ex-partners; and only 57 per cent of women participate in the paid workforce.
Women, on average, also earn
18 per cent less than men in similar positions.
Seventy-one per cent of primary carers in Australia are women and women represent almost 90 per cent of reported rapes and 76 per cent of reported sexual assaults. Women have significantly lower rates of superannuation savings than men, and 87 per cent of sole parent families with children under 15 years are headed by women.
Only three per cent of women are represented on corporate boards in Australia.
Ms Walters said some of the biggest issues facing modern-day women were flexible working arrangements for parents so the responsibility of child raising could be shared by both parents; access to childcare so women could work; access to affordable health and access to abortion services.
“If we look at the stats you can see that men and women are not equal,” Ms Walters said.
“Much of the work Women’s Health Loddon Mallee does is working towards changing policies and advocating to gain greater equality.”
Ms Walters said the best way towards change was to keep women’s issues on the agenda – at all levels – in order to ensure the community focussed on an equitable society.
She said today provided an opportunity to commemorate the capacity of woman all around the world to take political action on behalf of themselves and others.
“Annually on March 8, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements,” she said.
“International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900’s – the tone and nature of IWD has for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives, given the progress women have made in recent decades. We celebrate women who do pave the way so that they can actually make the world a better place to live.”
Ms Walters acknowledged the many events that took place from the early 20th century that led to the celebration of International Women’s Day.
She said the women garment workers strike in New York in 1909 was an event that stood out in many women’s political consciousness.
“Twenty to 30, 000 women workers, many of them migrant women, went on strike for 13 weeks in freezing temperatures for better pay and working conditions.
“These women workers were willing to lose their pay, lose their jobs, even though they were often the family breadwinners.
“They were arrested and scapegoated by police, employers, politicians and the media.
“Still they persevered.
“And it soon became clear that these brave and wise migrant women workers had helped to pave the way for the rest of us.”