Last weekend was International Women’s Day. This is a great day to stop, love, admire, appreciate and celebrate all of the wonderful women in our lives. Unfortunately it is also a day to stop and wonder at how the incredible levels of gender imbalance, unrelenting violence and general inequality still manage to be such a constant and debilitating force. It is easy to suggest that “it’s all right mate, they get to have jobs and all that other stuff now don’t they” or even more sadly hear our Minister for Women and Prime Minister say
“So, this is a nation which has smashed just about every glass ceiling, but we need to do more – we need to do more.” (Really, we have to do more! Are you sure you want to go out on a limb like that!)
When you look around in the real world unfortunately it turns out he is either misguided or short sighted. Consider these terrible facts:
A Fairfax Media investigation coinciding with International Women’s Day has found domestic violence is responsible for about two in five of all homicides and assaults in NSW, with 24 women dying in the year to September 2013. The assaults buck crime trends, with violence in our homes rising while street violence, robbery and car theft fall.
Three-quarters of all women killed in NSW die at the hands of their loved ones, an official statistic that has led NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione to warn that domestic violence is one of the ”biggest issues modern society has to face”.
Or read this report from Ernst & Young which shows:
- On average, women are still paid less than men 17.5 for the same work
- More than 60% of ASX listed companies have no female executives
- More than 1/3 of ASX 200 companies have no female directors
Even our own Government can only find one woman of merit to be in the Cabinet. For mine if this is true then the “Liberal” side of politics is in a dire situation and rapidly needs to address why all of the women they have lack the necessary merit and how can they be “helped” to get it.
However it is an easy task to look at the negatives. What is much more important is to look at the positives and to take those and create a culture of influence and empowerment that will give all people of merit and equal seat at the table of opportunity.
I have spent much of the day reading amazing articles and stories by inspiring women. People like (this is by no means an exhaustive list and there are so many more I could list):
Angela Priestly from Women’s Agenda with this excellent piece on “how we can empower women especially when they are young”
The entire crew from Destroy the Joint who are a source if joy and empowerment on so many levels including the campaign to give women refugees their dignity back by making the office of Scott Morrison face up to what they are doing.
Tracey Spicer, Clementine Ford, Jane Caro, Jenna Price, Tara Moss and so many, many more who every day take a stand. These are the people I celebrate and whilst it is true that the fight is not over, in fact it is only just getting started, at least the fight is taking place. Even more so I look into my own life and every day get to see my incredible wife and daughters prove time and time again that they have more strength, vision and ability than I will ever have.
This is a time of opportunity and joy and one that should see all people have equal opportunity. Unfortunately it isn’t always (or in some cases ever) true but if we all pull together then there is a great future for all people no matter what gender they are. We can’t be complacent and simply say that because some women have done well that it is equal for all. We need to be more vigilant, more activist and less accepting of how things are until true equality is simply the status quo.