Gender equality is firmly on the national agenda. We now see it regularly reported on in the media, we see men and women from all areas of life standing up and speaking out about injustice and discriminatory behaviour in our society. This is encouraging, and we must continue to actively seek to engage women with genuine gender equality; closing the gender pay gap, sharing caring responsibilities, offering leadership positions and making work flexible for women and men. But there is a long way to go.
We see the proliferation and effects of discrimination every day at the Commission. Each year we receive hundreds of calls from women who are not treated equally at work, who are penalised because they are pregnant or have returned to work and been demoted.
Being bold in the workplace is not just about women 'leaning in' and asking for a promotion or a pay-rise. It is about all genders supporting each other and acknowledging when bias occurs, when preference is given because of gender and when things are unfair.
This conversation is not new, but we are making headway. It has been one year since the Royal Commission into Family Violence specifically noted the link between gender equality and family violence. The Victorian Government has released its first-ever gender equality strategy, organisations such as Victoria Police are taking real steps to tackle the bias and discrimination in its workplaces and corporates are prioritising gender equality and realising the business benefits of diversity. Now is the time to keep this momentum going.
Of course, our conversation about gender equality must include an understanding of intersectionality. More than just a buzzword, intersectionality is about examining the whole range of experiences that women face – as members of different faiths and races; as women living with different abilities; as women of different ages, level of education and income; as women living in our towns and women living in our cities.
This International Women’s Day, we are reminded that, as a society, all of us – people of every gender identity – must be bold all of the time in order to fight discrimination and achieve gender equality. We must call out discrimination when it happens, not put up with it and instead try to work around it. It is only by naming and standing up to discrimination that we can overcome it.
The Commission is working in a number of ways to promote ways to achieve gender equality. We are currently working with Victoria Police to address sex discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, preparing a guideline for employers on family violence as a result of the Royal Commission into Family Violence and working with many large organisations to implement ways to improve their workplaces.
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Take a look at what we did for IWD2017.
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