From an increase in women running in US elections, to the first Prime Minister taking parental leave while in office– momentum for gender equality seems to be growing. But, it’s important to reflect on the fact that we have been here before.
In my hometown of Boulder, Colorado, I vividly remember the fervour when 1992 was announced to be the ‘Year of the Woman’. Having just turned 18, I was a bright-eyed feminist, excited about my first opportunity to vote in an election; and the fact that my first election lined up with the ‘Year of the Woman’ was a big deal.
However, in the twenty-six years that have elapsed, we are yet to achieve equal representation, equal pay or make significant strides towards ending violence against women. How have we not learned that we are more powerful together?
Canada. Australia. Israel. Ireland. The USA. England.
All of us are taking a stand tonight – 24 September 2018 – to shine a light on gender inequality by lighting only half the city skylines. These half-lit skylines are a powerful visual demonstration that highlight the crucial role women play in our societies.
Tonight, on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) debate and ahead of the annual HeForShe Summit in New York City, the United Nations HeForShe movement is launching its #MorePowerfulTogether campaign. #MorePowerfulTogether will spark a global dialogue about gender equality and send a rousing message both to world leaders, and people across the world that the world loses half its power by excluding half its population — women. We must press for progress– from the highest levels of business and government to our families and communities–to create equal opportunities for women and girls. Frankly, we can’t afford not to.
Now it is a well-known fact that no country in the world has achieved gender equality, but what may be less understood is why. The business case is well worn: more diverse boards, workforces, participation at all levels of decision-making lead to more robust economies. When the participation, interests and needs of all of us rise to the table for discussion and deliberation, we achieve better outcomes for 100% of the population.
But on this day, as Heads of State gather for the opening of the UN General Assembly debate, it’s important to take stock of how inequality is holding back progress – no matter how you define it. As it stands, today:
- There are 122 women for every 100 men aged 25-34 who are living in extreme poverty. In Australia, by the time they turn 60, 34% of single women in Australia live in poverty. The global gender pay gap is 24%, and although Australia’s gender pay gap has reached its lowest in 20 years, at 14.6% – we’ve still got a long way to go. This means on average, women working full-time earned $244.80 less per week than men.
- Globally, women’s labour force participation rate is 63%, compared to 94% for men.
- 1 in 3 women globally have experienced physical or sexual violence, and on average, in Australia, one woman dies each week at the hands of her current or former partner.
- Women hold just 24% of parliamentary seats worldwide, just 28.7% of Parliamentary seats in Australia and just 7.3% of national parliaments across the Pacific.
- When women are included in peace processes, there is a 20% increase in the probability of an agreement lasting at least 2 years and a 35% increase in the probability of an agreement lasting at least 15 years. But between 1992 and 2011, just 4% of signatories to peace agreements and less than 10% of negotiators at peace tables were women.
But this does not have to be our future.
When we work together – across gender, race, ability, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion – we can topple structures that have perpetuated the inequality that frighteningly, like that song that gets stuck in your head, plays on repeat.
So tonight, I invite you to gaze at your skyline. Please, take a moment to reflect on what future we can co-create if we all take a stand for gender equality. It is only in working across that which often divides us, that we are #MorePowerfulTogether.
Some of the buildings and landmarks which will participate in the launch of #MorePowerfulTogether on 24/9 follow:
- Empire State Building | New York
- John Hancock Center | Chicago
- US Bank Tower | Los Angeles
- Miami Tower | Miami
- Tel Aviv City Hall | Israel
- CN Tower | Toronto
- Emirates Spinnaker Tower | Portsmouth, England
- Dublin City Hall | Ireland
- One Roof | Melbourne, Australia
- Old Treasury Building | Melbourne, Australia
- South32 Building | Perth, Australia
- NSW Parliament House | Sydney
- Sydney Town Hall | Sydney
- University of Sydney | Sydney
- Queensland University of Technology | Brisbane, Australia
- AGL Energy Building | Melbourne, Australia
- National Film and Sound Archive of Australia | Canberra, Australia