Government shines light on ‘confronting’ gender equality challenges

Australian women face a range of gender issues and challenges throughout their lives, including experiencing higher rates of sexual violence than men, carrying out more unpaid housework, and approaching retirement with 23.1% less in super savings, Australia’s first Status of Women Report Card has revealed on International Women’s Day.

Ranked 43rd for gender equality internationally, the data shines a light on where the country’s progress on gender equality has stalled and more action is required.

The disparity shows women over 55 are the fastest growing group of people experiencing homelessness, women carry out more unpaid housework than men, even when they are the primary breadwinners (24.1 hours vs 19.1 hours), and one in two women have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime, compared to one in four men. Alarmingly, one woman is killed by an intimate partner every 10 days.

The gender pay gap emerges immediately after graduation, with full-time starting salaries for men averaging $69,000, compared to $67,000 for women. Meanwhile, women’s earnings fall by 55% in the first five years of parenthood, while men’s stay the same.

Making efforts to bridge the gender gap even more difficult, 30% of Australian men don’t believe that gender inequality exists.

Minister for Women, Senator Katy Gallagher, said the Government was committed to making gender equality a national priority.

“The reality is, while we are making some gains on gender equality, we are not there yet and, in some aspects of women’s lives, progress has stalled,” she conceded.

“The Government wants to make International Women’s Day about more than just celebrating women’s successes and instead see the Commonwealth Government annually report on the challenges that continue to hold women and our country back, and use this to reflect on progress.”

Senator Gallagher said shining a light on the statistics may be confronting but nevertheless crucial in order to have an honest national conversation about gender equality.

“It’s a conversation I’d like to see all Australians take part in and I’d encourage everyone to share their experiences through the survey launched today, as part of the next phase of consultation for the National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality.”

The National Strategy, which is due to be released in the second half of this year, will guide whole of community action to make Australia a world leader for equality.

The full Status of Women Report Card can also be accessed here

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