On this International Women’s Day, I’d like to share some thoughts based on my experience as a woman living and working in Australia today. All of us, men and women, should be celebrating the great, acknowledging the challenges and working towards respect and equality. I hope that the men in your life have felt included, supportive, wanted and very much part of this important day for women.
Let me preface the following by saying that I would rather be a woman today than any other time in history. I’d like to think we’re moving ever onwards and upwards.
- A woman dies at the hands of a current or former partner almost each week in Australia.
- Women pay tax on feminine hygiene products such as tampons. Still.
- Last year the OECD reported Australian women were paid 17.3 per cent less than their male counterparts in same/similar roles. This gender pay gap is nation-wide & is creating a yawning chasm in contributions to superannuation between men & women.
- Today, the Daily Telegraph featured an article that stated “International Women’s Day is a pathetic excuse for women already dripping in privilege to pat themselves on the back…”.
- The average woman would have to work an extra 66 days per year to earn the same amount of money as the average man.
- The average Australian woman in full-time work earns $26, 853 less than an average Australian man in full time work.
- The Australian Brotherhood of Fathers held protests today to reportedly raise awareness about the issues of men’s suicide, broken relationships and mental health issues. (NB: These are absolutely important issues and supported by all the women I know too). Placards read “Stop the war on Dads, Fathers”. The organiser commented that whilst he was not anti-female, he believes the “gender pay gap is a lie” and that “if women are not in top positions in business or government, it’s based on their ability to be there.” He also said “If women believe we are stealing their thunder, let them believe that. It’s the last thing I’m worried about.”
- Today I thought about how my own mother had to leave her job when she married my father in 1968, standard practice at the time for women in her workplace.
- Bizarre fact: It was only in 1963 that women made their move into public bars. Before that, they weren’t allowed to enter pubs with the exception of Ladies Lounges, where they could sometimes go if accompanied by a man.
- Over lunch I read a 1963 Commonwealth of Australia Minute paper that pondered the dilemma of “WOMEN TRADE COMMISSIONERS?” (yes, the heading was capitalised and had a question mark at the end of it). It said “It is extremely doubtful if a woman could, year after year, under a variety of conditions, stand the fairly severe strains and stresses, mentally and physically, which are part of the life of a Trade Commissioner” and “A woman would take the place of a man and preclude us from giving practical experience to one male officer”.
- Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz today tweeted “This International Women’s Day we should pay tribute to someone who has dedicated her life in service to her people. Queen Elizabeth II has demonstrated that hard work and commitment earn you far more respect than demanding that people make way and artificially promote you simply because of your sex.”
I’ve been disappointed today to read antagonistic tweets and posts about women and the feminist movement; if you do feel that way, please take some time to ask yourself why you do. Some of the things I read today pained me deeply. I can only assume that the most vitriolic voices belong to those that feel the most threatened by women, and they are truly diminished for it.
International Women’s Day is about celebrating the achievements of women and raising awareness of those issues where we still need to work together for equality for all. It’s not a day to be negative about men and men’s issues but a day to focus positively on women. Likewise, I will ponder the challenges that men face and celebrate their achievements on International Men’s Day on 19 November.
I am lucky to be surrounded by some amazing, smart, beautiful, powerful, inspiring, nurturing girls and women. Tonight, I am remembering and celebrating their achievements and how lucky I am to have them in my life.
Happy IWD to all.