A survey by YouGov and Plan International Australia, the charity for girls’ equality, has revealed that 73 percent of Australian women aged 18 to 21 do not believe that women in politics are treated equally to men. Almost eight in 10 women aged between 22 and 25 hold the same view.
Over 500 women from across the political spectrum were polled, with findings showing that the perception of inequality existed pervasively, with 89 percent of Green voters and 77 percent of Labor voters holding the opinion that women are not treated equally in politics.
71 percent of Coalition voters do not believe that women involved in politics today are treated equally to men and 54 percent of them do not believe that the work culture is safe. Just one in 10 Australian women aged 18 to 25 believe that the work culture in parliament is a safe environment for young women and two-thirds don’t believe the work culture is safe.
The poll also revealed some startling results around young women’s political aspirations (or rather, lack of). More than 4 in 5 women between ages 18-25 say they never considered or aspired to be prime minister, while almost three-quarters say they would never want to work in politics.
Only 12 percent of young women say they would pursue a career in national politics, while 30 percent say both negative perceptions of the work culture in federal politics and the accusations of misogyny in parliament prevent them from pursuing such a career. Three-quarters of these women want HR processes remodelled to allow independent reporting of harassment.
The survey comes as Parliament grapples with the fallout from sexual misconduct allegations in recent months.
Susanne Legena, the chief executive of Plan International Australia told The Guardian Australia it was “…time for men in the Australian parliament, including the prime minister himself, to listen to the voices of Australia’s young women and fix the culture in our parliament now.”
Interestingly, an Essential Poll has revealed that Australian men’s approval for the Prime Minister has not changed from February at 65 percent, whereas for Australian women, the approval rate has dropped from 65 to 49 percent.
Next Wednesday, Victoria will announce plans to begin the Australian-first Gender Equality Act 2020 which will involve 300 public sector employers including local councils and universities to report on and improve gender equality in the workplace and in politics.
The Act will be lead national efforts to achieve gender-equal workplaces in the public sector. Victoria’s minister for women, Gabrielle Williams, said the act would cover roughly 309,000 workers and involve Dr Niki Vincent as Victoria’s inaugural public sector gender equality commissioner. Dr Vincent will work with the sector to see how it handles sexual harassment complaints and outcomes of internal investigations.
“We’re talking about 11 percent of the overall Victorian workforce, who will have to publicly report on and improve on their outcomes against the drivers of inequality which go to many, many things like the gender pay gap, the gender participation gap, and obviously representation of women throughout an organisation, and of course also things like sexual harassment complaints,” Williams said.
“This can’t just be a stick approach. It needs to be a collaborative approach, recognising that across those 300 organisations, there were very different starting points.”
Williams was asked to comment on the federal government’s recent controversial appointment of Amanda Stoker as the assistant minister for women. Stoker is a Queensland Liberal National party senator and anti-abortionist. Williams declined to comment, instead, saying that the appointment was the decision of the Prime Minister.
“What we do here in Victoria is trying to lead by example and show that equality ultimately benefits everybody,” she told The Guardian.
Australian of the Year Grace Tame took to social media to criticise the Prime Minister, saying he was “ignorant of the cultural issues at hand, or he understands them completely, and is making calculated moves to perpetuate them.”
“The new Assistant Minister for Women supported [Ms Arndt’s] fake rape crisis tour, aimed at falsifying all counts of sexual abuse on campuses across the nation,” Tame told veteran journalist Kerry O’Brien on Tuesday night. “And needless to say, that came at a great expense to student survivors who were already traumatised.”
Tame has been a vocal advocate for raising women’s voices in Australian politics. At the March4Justice rally in Hobart two weeks ago, the local resident told the crowd that “Behaviour unspoken behaviour ignored is behaviour endorsed. The start of the solution is quite simple – making noise.”
“Men are not the enemy, corrupt behaviour is,” she said. “Corrupt behaviour always has been and always will be the enemy.”