When it comes to gender equality, we’re at a crossroads.
That’s according to former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who believes that some aspects of gender equality are currently being contested in Australia and overseas.
“We should not underestimate the enormity of what needs to shift if we are to continue to create a more gender equal, more inclusive world,” says Broderick, in an extract from her oration address to be shared at the annual Business Events Sydney Ambassador dinner tonight.
Broderick is also expected to ask the audience how we can further accelerate change on gender equality, by engaging both the head and the heart.
“How can we not only ensure that leaders take notice, but that they swing into action?”
While on Women’s Agenda we’re yet to see a full copy of Broderick’s speech, in 2017 we can see where some aspects of gender equality may well be under threat.
Internationally, Donald Trump’s first year as President has correlated with some pretty depressing setbacks for women. The picture of a number of white, male members of Trump’s team signing the Global Gag Rule earlier this year summed it up– an order aiming to withhold federal funds from organisations that discuss abortion with women.
The OECD recently declared that gender equality progress has been “too slow” across Western countries, noting little has changed since 2010, and that all areas of social and economic life in OECD nations still have significant gender gaps across.
Australia, meanwhile, dropped 30 or so places in late 2016 to number 46 on the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap report.
While that may suggest other countries have improved on gender equality, the figure actually paints a concerning portrait regarding progress in Australia. Our low representation of women in government is particularly problematic.
When it comes to women on the boards of our largest organisations, (which is often seen as a simple measure of progress for women in business) we’re lagging badly. Progress in fact stalled in 2017.
There has also been further, public push-backs on gender equality, with claims that it signals political correctness gone mad. Earlier this year Tony Abbott suggested any talk of quotas was “anti men” and “politically correct rubbish”.
Thirty nine women have been murdered by a current or ex-partner so far in Australia this year, according to Destroy The Joint. But very little’s been done at the Federal level to address the problem.
One area where we have improved, slightly, is on the national gender pay gap. But while the figure is now at 15.3% — it’s still a long way off its low point of 14.9%, reached back in 2004.
Broderick has been invited to give tonight’s oration as a leader whose experiences have shaped the views of the nation. Former speakers at the event have included David Gonski and John Howard. The event aims to raise the global profile of NSW through a range of role ambassadors.
Seven new leaders will be invited into the ambassador program tonight, including three women: Dr Bronwyn Evans, the CEO of Standards Australia; Professor Emma Johnston, the Dean of Science at UNSW; and Serafina Maiorano, the Global CEO of Advance.