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Leadership & Management

Australia’s first national strategy for gender equality launched

Health Industry Hub | March 8, 2024 |

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, Australia’s Minister for Women, Katy Gallagher, has unveiled the nation’s inaugural strategy aimed at achieving gender equality. Addressing an audience at the National Press Club, Senator Gallagher painted a stark picture of the persistent challenges women face in the country.

“Despite it being 2024, women in Australia still face barriers which mean they work less, earn less, and retire with less. And when they take time out of work for children, ‘the motherhood penalty’ kicks in,” stated Senator Gallagher. She emphasised the disparity in senior management positions, the prevalence of insecure part-time roles, and the alarming rates of domestic, family, and sexual violence that women continue to endure.

Highlighting the urgency for change, Senator Gallagher revealed the staggering statistic that since 1989, over 2,369 women in Australia were killed by their intimate partners or family members.

“In 2024, women in this country, as a general rule, continue to be less safe, have less choice, and be less economically secure than men,” she declared.

Senator Gallagher announced the Albanese government’s commitment to transform the status quo with the launch of Working for Women Australia’s first national strategy for gender equality. The plan aims to address issues such as the gender pay gap, unpaid work, and the economic impacts of parenthood.

Women currently spend nine hours more per week on unpaid work and care than their male counterparts, leading to a significant gender pay gap.

Senator Gallagher shared, “Women with children face an average 55% drop in earnings in their first five years of parenthood, while fathers’ incomes don’t change at all.”

The plan includes leveraging the government’s purchasing power to encourage businesses with 500 or more employees to commit to gender equity targets. The proposed targets cover various aspects, including the gender makeup of senior boards, workforce composition, equal pay, flexible working arrangements, and measures to prevent and address sexual harassment. Additionally, the government has set a 50% target for women’s representation on advisory boards.

Senator Gallagher emphasised the government’s dedication to ensuring tangible progress, stating, “Not only will businesses have to set targets, but they will also have to show progress towards them.”

To address the gender superannuation gap, the Albanese government announced plans to provide superannuation on paid parental leave, acknowledging the financial disparities women face in retirement, where women retire with 30% – or $67,000 on average – less than men.

In her impassioned address, Senator Gallagher expressed gratitude to the women who have paved the way for progress.

“For me to be in a position to stand here today to talk about how we build upon the progress made to date I must acknowledge all of those women throughout history who have refused to give up the fight for equality. Who kept showing up. Fighting to be in the room. Then to be at the table where the decisions are made.

“For me, these women have been ever-present in my life: my mother, my sister, my nieces, my daughters, girlfriends I grew up with, women I have met throughout life – women I have worked with,” she said.

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