We have a decade to achieve gender equality

GREATER PROFIT: Organisations miss 50 per cent of the talent pool when women in all their diversity are not around the decision table. Photo: UN Women Asia and Pacific Islands
GREATER PROFIT: Organisations miss 50 per cent of the talent pool when women in all their diversity are not around the decision table. Photo: UN Women Asia and Pacific Islands

This year the theme for International Women's Day is 'Women in Leadership'.

The impact of 2020 has been hardest felt by women and girls, eroding the limited progress made in recent years on gender equality.

The shock of COVID-19 continues to reverberate across every community. Women and girls have been hardest hit and face increased domestic violence rates so pervasive that UN Women has coined the term "Shadow Pandemic of Violence".

On average, women take on more than three times the burden of caring. Women are overrepresented in casualised workforces, with jobs and wages vulnerable due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

At the current rate of change, it is estimated to take 99.5 years to achieve gender equality. The UN has a sustainable development goal to achieve gender equality by 2030. We have a decade to improve this goal.

Women bear the brunt of problems ranging from poverty to climate change, but they also possess assets and talents to solve them.

Across the globe, women are leading nations, organisations and institutions carrying out effective and inclusive COVID-19 responses from the highest levels of decision-making through to frontline service delivery.

Women bring different experiences, perspectives and skills to the table and make invaluable contributions to decisions, policies and laws that work better for all.

Women are significantly under-represented in parliaments, holding only one-quarter of parliamentary seats worldwide. In Australia, we fare only slightly better and still fall short of the 50/50 goal. Only 30.46 per cent of MPs are women.

Australian women represent just 17.1 per cent of CEOs and 14.1 per cent of board chairs. Only one of the 25 CEOs appointed to lead ASX 200 organisations in the past year was female.

While women comprise around 47 per cent of all employees in Australia, on average, they take home $253.60 less than men every week, making the national gender pay gap 14 per cent.

Advancing women in leadership is central to creating productive economies, flourishing businesses and a healthier and more peaceful planet.

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