On paper, Australian women and girls can do anything – they can attain an education, become a CEO, earn the same as men, and as we will see again tonight, even play football at an elite level. In many ways, there’s never been a better time to be a woman.
And for that we are grateful to the giants on who’s shoulders we stand today. Women in particular, who have fought so hard for the rights we can now take for granted: rights that enable us to vote, to work once married, to divorce, to earn equal pay for work of equal value, and rights which provide us with reproductive freedoms through choice.
Yet as recent movements #metoo and #timesup have highlighted, equality in practice is yet to be realised. Even in this, the lucky country. So what can we do to leverage momentum of these global movement focused on addressing sexual assault and harassment, and ultimately advancing womens rights through a new wave?
Ensure human rights protections are at the heart of your diversity & inclusion strategy
Its so easy to get caught up in diversity speak, buzz words and #hashtags. But in doing so, we run the risk of not seeing the very human rights breaches we are charged with protecting.
To translate global movements into local action, we must remember what we are fighting for: recognition in our workplaces and our communities that all human beings are born free and equal, in dignity and rights. Diversity and inclusion is about equality and belonging. And we can translate #metoo and #timesup by:
- preventing violence against women, which sees 80 women a year murdered and 1 in 4 women subjected to violence at the hands of someone who supposedly loves them;
- implementing zero tolerance policies for sexual harassment which is currently inflicted on 1 in 4 women in our workplaces;
- protecting the rights of expectant and new mothers and empowering them to anticipate and address discrimination, as 1 in 2 women continue to experience pregnancy discrimination in our workplaces which has a direct impact on their financial security;
- closing the gender pay gap which still stands at 17.3%;
- increasing female participation in leadership because just 16.5% of Australian CEOs are women.
And so as I hang up the phone from yet another woman being made redundant – by email – while on parental leave and she is asking me whether she should stand up for herself or go quietly, the words of Hilary Clinton are at the forefront of my mind:
Here’s to advancing and protecting the rights of women & children in the name of gender equality in 2018.