A leader on gender equity has called for women to re-ignite the spirit of the suffragettes ahead of an International Women’s Day engagement in the North East.
Dr Leslie Cannold said women could not hope to make greater inroads on gender equality without an increase in solidarity.
Women’s Health Goulburn North East has invited Dr Cannold to be the guest speaker at its annual women in leadership breakfast in Wangaratta on March 10.
“We are still not where we need to be on any gender issues,” she said ahead of International Women’s Day characteristically celebrated on March 8.
“What concerns me are the statistics: women are not paid the same as men; they are not adequately represented in politics and business; or in policy making or media reporting.
“You only have to look at maternity leave, parental leave and child care – it’s still in a 1970s framework.
“Childcare is expensive and the over-riding attitude is if women want to work then they have to justify that out of their wages.”
Dr Cannold, an associate professor at the Department of International Business and Asian Studies at Griffith University, said women had lost the “collective action element” of how they operated.
“The problem is we are battling alone and not banding together,” she said.
“We need to support each other and take action together to affect the wider functionality of the system.”
Men have a pivotal role to play too, according to Dr Cannold.
“We live with men and we have intimate partnerships with them so in that space we are directly dealing with men,” she said.
“We also have to engage men in public advocacy and discussions around equal relationships in the work space.
“The truth is that there are winners and losers around this stuff and the system is biaised around men.
“They know it and we know it.”
Nowhere is that power imbalance more evident than in sexual violence.
In an article for The Sunday Age in 2010 titled ‘Talking About Rape’ Dr Cannold wrote that she had been raped. Twice.
It was a brave but cathartic move prompted by comments made by TV presenter Kerri-Anne Kennerley in relation to a young woman’s allegation of rape by a footballer.
Kennerley laid the blame on “strays” who “throw … themselves at sportspeople”. “What do [women] expect,” she asked, “when they are out at night?”
Dr Cannold said it horrified her that victims of sexual assault were still portrayed in that light – even by other women.
She is a passionate advocate for the prevention of family violence and sexual assault and now speaks “less as an expert” and “more as a human being”.
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