Gender equality to be monitored by new report card

Statue unveiling of Australia's first women federal MPs Dame Enid Lyons and Dame Dorothy Tangney.

Statue unveiling of Australia's first women federal MPs Dame Enid Lyons and Dame Dorothy Tangney. Photo: AAP

Australia’s progress on gender equality will be formally tracked in conjunction with International Women’s Day.

Released on Wednesday, the first Status of Women Report Card shows women and girls continuing to face unique challenges.

Twice as many experience sexual harassment than men and those over 55 are Australia’s fastest growing homeless group.

A 13.3 per cent pay gap also exists for full-time weekly wages, which despite being the lowest on record is compounded by women doing nine hours more unpaid work than men per week.

These factors contribute to Australia being ranked 43rd in the world for gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum.

Making the challenge greater, 30 per cent of Australian men don’t believe inequality between the sexes exists compared to the global average of 21 per cent.

Women’s Minister Katy Gallagher says the federal government is committed to making gender equality a national priority.

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

A vast collection of data in the report helps paint a picture of what life looks like for women in Australia, including that over a quarter were born overseas and close to 18 per cent identify as having a disability.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese noted 54 of 103 federal Labor MPs are female.

“International Women’s Day is a very good thing … and it is so good we have a government that’s actually representative of the population,” he told Nova radio in Perth.

Current MPs posed with two new statues of Australia’s first federal female politicians, Dame Dorothy Tangney and Dame Enid Lyons, which were unveiled in Canberra on Wednesday.

Everybody’s Home campaign spokeswoman Maiy Azize urged the government to “put its money where its mouth is” to address Australia’s social housing shortfall.

“The simple truth is women cannot escape violence if they have nowhere to go – that’s why we see thousands of women going back to violent homes every year, while so many others are forced into homelessness,” she said.

“We need to see more than words and platitudes. Campaigns about family and domestic violence need to be backed up with a major boost to social housing.”

Anglicare Australia says Australia lacks 500,000 social and affordable rentals and needs to build 25,000 new social homes annually.

Full Stop Australia chief executive Hayley Foster said the government needed to make a greater commitment to women’s safety.

“Every week, another woman is being murdered and sexual and domestic violence are the fastest growing serious crimes in the country,” she said.

Elsewhere, workplace inequality equates to women ending up with 23.1 per cent less superannuation than men the same age on average.

With a 13.3 per cent average pay gap, they are also effectively working seven weeks of the year for free, based on the salary of full-time employees.

The pay gap exists even in professions dominated by women, such as child care (96.6 per cent), nursing (86.9 per cent) and primary school teaching (79.9 per cent).

Australian College of Nursing Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward said in health care, women often were paid much less an hour on average than men because they were more likely in part-time or less senior roles.

“Gender pay gaps are a reflection of the way we value women’s and men’s contributions in the workforce,” she said.

A national strategy will be released by the government later this year to guide “whole of community” action.


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