Equal Pay Day is calculated each year in August. It is determined by the number of additional days it would take for a woman to earn as much as a man, based on ABS data of the previous financial year earnings. This year it falls on September 5. In just 12 months the gender pay gap has blown out from an already too-high 17.5% to the current level of 18.2%.
YWCA Adelaide is holding a handbag auction on Equal Pay Day to increase awareness of the gender pay gap and raise funds to support YWCA’s female leadership programs, including the development of a She Leads for High Schools Conference.
Sixty Australian women were invited to show their support for this cause by donating a handbag from their personal collection. Those women include some female firsts: Australia’s first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female Governor General Quentin Bryce, Australia’s first woman to be elected as a Premier Anna Bligh and Australia’s first Indigenous woman in Federal Parliament Nova Peris. Contributors also include Westpac CEO Gail Kelly, dual International sportswoman Ellyse Perry, FIFA board member Moya Dodd, politicians Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek, as well as journalists Tracey Spicer, Anne Summers and author Monica McInerney.
I was also invited to donate a handbag that holds special meaning and so donated a chocolate brown Marc Jacobs carry bag, bought as a reward to myself for a career success. I bought the bag in New York during the launch phase of TheKnot.com.au about five years ago. I am a big believer in rewarding career achievements.
Julia Gillard donated a black evening bag by Olga Berg, “a veteran of many Press Gallery Balls which are held mid-winter each year to raise money for charity”. “It is the premier event of the Parliamentary calendar.”
Penny Wong’s contribution of a brown leather satchel was given to her by her partner shortly after she became a Federal Minister. “It was a bag that suited my busy lifestyle – I was able to carry the many folders and briefs that I had constantly as well as keep daily essentials like my makeup, blackberry and mobile phone. It was a very thoughtful gift and I’m glad this donation will go to supporting the work of the YWCA including raising awareness about the gender pay gap.”
Ellyse Perry’s handbag also holds great appeal as memorabilia. It’s her travel bag for the 2014 ICC T20 World Cup in Bangladesh with the Australian Southern Stars. “It went with me everywhere during my tour of winning our third successive T20 World Cup with the Australian Women’s Cricket Team. I have many lifelong memories through playing sport for my country and this is a small reminder of how good it is to be on tour with your teammates.”
Moya Dodd’s blue leather shoulder bag travelled with her from FFA to FIFA via the AFC. “It came to the FIFA Congress 2013 when I was co-opted to the FIFA executive committee. It has been to meetings with President Blatter in his office in Zurich. It has been to see Michael Plantini, VEFA President in his office in Nyon. It has been to AFC Congress where I was elected Vice-President and to Wembley for the VEFA Champions League Final. It’s been to the W-League grand final in Melbourne and the Women’s FA Cup Final in Doncaster. And it’s been on a helicopter in Jordan to a refugee camp near the Syrian border, with Prince Ali and UN Officials. Take it on some more adventures!”
Natasha Stott Despoja, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, gave up her black, purple and gold billum from Garoka in PNG for this worthy cause.
“This bilum is one of my favourite bags. It was a gift to me on a trip to PNG. Traditionally a bilum is made by hand through a process known as lopping or knotless netting or by crocheting. Making bilums is a good source of income for many women in PNG. I hope someone enjoys this.”
Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, donated a red leather bag that she likes because “it’s bright and loud and signifies for me the strength of women’s voices and actions”. “I bought it in a small Italian village from a gorgeous older woman who agreed that women were no longer invisible!”
Tanya Plibersek’s lolly pink satin clutch with zebra stripe lining includes a signed business card. It was a 40th birthday present from a “dear friend”. “Made me feel young again!”
Every handbag has a story and the reading alone is fascinating. If you are in the market for a pre-loved handbag with a strong female story then get bidding. And even if you’re not a handbag person, why not place a bid to show your support for the need to erase the gender pay gap.
The auction closes at 9:30pm Australian Central Standard Time, on Saturday 6 September 2014.
The auction site is here.