What are the main issues effecting women in Australia? What are we talking about when we refer to discrepancies between men and women in our country? And for what reasons do I need to defend the relevance of feminism in our country?
Australia is a nation that has a long history of struggle in search of finding a balance of gender equality. As one of the first nations to offer suffrage to women in 1901, to the enactment of the Sex discrimination Act in 1984, to recent accomplishments such as the 2010 Paid Parental Leave Act, we can say that we have come a long way. Yet still much needs to be done.
However, time and time again I find myself defending the mere existence of such inequalities. I have often been questioned if there is even a need for concerted feminist movements in Australia. It is a refection of how many of us are unaware of the modern issues affecting women in Australia today.
Increasing awareness of issues for women in Australia is crucial for our advancement in gender equality. The latest HEROC publication, Gender Equality Gender Equality Blueprint 2010, identifies that while it appears that women have equal opportunities as men in Australian society today, great inequalities continue to prevail, particularly when the overall statistics are examined over a person's lifetime.
It is important to become familiar with the larger issues, especially for those who tend to be bound to the logic that we must have achieved equality, if on a micro scale, there appears to be no inequalities between men and women in society.
In a world that is set to hit 7 billion people in 2011, and even in our country of 22.5 million, it is not enough to assume that the mere few thousand contacts you know (more or less), is broadly demonstrative of the on the ground situation in that country. It is exceedingly important to recognise the issues that are affecting women in Australian society; as only genuine understanding will bring effective change.
The World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report, examines gender imbalance according to economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment.
It is concerning to find that, Australia ranks 23rd in the World Gender Gap report of 134 countries. Australia is listed three places down since the last report and six places down from the 2007 rank.
It is in our best interests to ensure that we continually make progress towards gender equality. According to many sources, including the Global Gender Gap Report, countries that utilise both men and women in the workplace have a much higher success rate in development. A distinct link has been made between the participation of women in the workplace and development.
While we can be proud that Australia has completely closed the gender gap in the area of education between men and women, when taking into account the numbers of political empowerment and the wage differences between men and women, I, like many other Australians, still believe we can do better.
There are many areas of inequality that we can strive to overcome, some of which I will outline here.
Inequality Number 1 – More Women in lower skilled part time work:
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Rose Espinola is a freelance writer who has spent significant periods in the Middle East, the U.S. and Australia.
Rose has a working background in education, immigration, social justice and non-profit. She received her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations at Griffith University in Queensland, and her Masters of International Law at the University of Sydney. Rose’s focus areas are Culture, Gender, Citizenship, Politics and Social Justice. She currently lives in Colorado, USA.