ON March 8, people across Australia will mark International Women’s Day, and in particular commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing platform for action which envisions a world where women and girls are treated equally to their brothers, husbands and fathers.
While there have been many achievements in Australia over the past 20 years — in the past few months alone Rosie Batty was named Australian of the Year and Linda Dessau was named Governor of Victoria — there is still a long way to go.
The gender pay gap is at 17.1 per cent and women in the top levels of management are paid up to 45 per cent less than male colleagues.
VicHealth’s National community attitudes survey on violence against women, released late last year, revealed some worrying statistics about Australians’ attitudes to gender equality in public life.
Twenty-seven per cent of Australians believe men make better political leaders than women, a 4 per cent increase since 2012.
Twelve per cent of Australians believe when jobs are scarce that men have more right to a job than a woman.
And 5 per cent of Australians believe university education is more important for a boy than a girl.
Sexist and violent behaviour is learned and it can be unlearned.
International Women’s Day is a time to stand up and challenge attitudes which work against achieving equality between men and women.
— JERRIL RECHTER,