'WE stand together and commit to advancing gender equity in Greater Bendigo for the benefit of everyone in our community," community leaders have pledged.
It comes as communities near and far celebrate women and advocate for their empowerment.
Today is International Women's Day - a global movement highlighting women's contributions and the need for action to achieve gender parity.
Women experience poorer outcomes than men in a number of aspects in their lives, particularly safety, data featured in the Greater Bendigo Coalition for Gender Equity Leadership Statement shows.
In Greater Bendigo, women are almost five times more likely to be affected by intimate partner violence than men.
Family violence affects more than three times more women in Greater Bendigo than men.
More than five times more women in Greater Bendigo report being the victim of sexual offences than men.
The outcomes for women in our local government area are worse than the state average in all three instances, while Greater Bendigo men fare better.
Smoking, anxiety and depression and physical inactivity were other areas in which women in Greater Bendigo were shown to experience significantly poorer outcomes than men in their own community, and women across the state.
Community leaders said today was an opportunity to reflect on progress towards gender equality, and what more needed to be done.
The Greater Bendigo Coalition for Gender Equity consists of 18 members.
Among them are some of the city's biggest employers and its leading experts on gender equity - specialist women's services.
Women's Health Loddon Mallee chief executive and Gender Equity Victoria board member Tricia Currie said gender equity wasn't about women wishing to have power over men.
"We wish to have power over ourselves," she said.
Speaking as part of a panel discussion yesterday, Goldfields Library Corporation chief executive Mark Hands said gender parity was a basic human right.
"That, for me, is absolutely why it is of importance," he told attendees at the Greater Bendigo Coalition for Gender Equity's leadership statement launch.
Annie North chief executive Julie Oberin said today would be bittersweet, for her.
"International Women’s Day was adopted by the UN to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – which we must continue to do," she said.
"However it is hard to do so under the shadow of the scourge of gender inequality and rampant gender-based violence against women.
"Last year almost two women a week were murdered in Australia. This year the unacceptable pattern continues."
MORE IWD COVERAGE:
'More Powerful Together' and 'Balance for Better' are this year's International Women's Day themes.
Centre for Non-Violence chief executive Margaret Augerinos said all people benefited from gender equity, not only women.
She said there was positive work happening in the community to promote gender equity.
Loddon Campaspe Centre Against Sexual Assault chief executive Kate Wright said the group of agencies working to reduce and respond to gendered violence in the community and to achieve gender equity was one of its strengths.
Organisations involved in the Greater Bendigo Coalition for Gender Equity include: AFL Central Victoria; Annie North; Bendigo and Adelaide Bank; Bendigo Community Health Services; Bendigo Health; Centre for Non-Violence; City of Greater Bendigo; Country Fire Authority; Department of Education and Training - regional office; Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning - regional office; Department of Health and Human Services - regional office; Goldfields Library Corporation; Loddon Campaspe Centre Against Sexual Assault; Women's Health Loddon Mallee; North Central Catchment Management Authority; La Trobe University - Bendigo campus; Sports Focus; Victoria Police.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
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