RELATED: Regional women at the coalface
New research from Women’s Health Loddon Mallee reveals that women’s participation in the work and volunteer sectors is less than 30 per cent, according to CEO Linda Beilharz.
The survey across local commercial enterprise, not-for-profits, the health sector, 72 cemetery trusts and 76 local Country Fire Authorities uncovered the huge disparity between men’s and women’s participation in society.
“That influences our aspirations and ability to participate in key communities, and there is a long term impact on women’s health,” she said.
“There is clear evidence that affirmative action makes a difference.”
At the health organisation’s gender equity forum, taking place on International Day of Rural Women, a string of speakers spoke out about the underlying social attitudes that permit violence to take place.
A woman that hasn't got any options ... that's where I see gender inequality happening.Jessamy Gleeson
Opening the forum, Victorian Minister for prevention of violence against women Fiona Richardson highlighted the intrinsic link between broad gender inequality in society and men’s violence against women, which has seen 69 women killed so far this year.
Keynote speaker Belinda Duarte, spoke eloquently about the challenges facing rural women, with reference to Indigenous experiences and the AFL.
Adam Fennessy, secretary of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, spoke about the need for women’s leadership from his standpoint as a Male Champion of Change.
Our Watch’s Patty Kinnersly then led a dynamic panel discussion with some of the state’s brightest feminist thinkers – Jassamy Gleeson of Cherchez la Femme, Jamin Heppell from Game Changers Australia and The Man Cave, and Arrernte Australian writer Celeste Liddle.
Ms Gleeson said confidential health access was crucial in small towns, explaining that in her home town of Yackandandah in north east Victoria, it was difficult for her mother to get postpartum depression care.
“A woman that hasn't got any options ... that's where I see gender inequality happening,” she said.
She said intersectionality was key, recognising the experience of white women is different to their sisters of colour.
She added that social media allowed “unfiltered” women’s voices to shine and connect, where there were often not given a platform in traditional media or government.
If you are experiencing violence or sexual assault, phone 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.