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Have your say: does gender inequality impact men and boys?

Does gender inequality impact men and boys? One of the principles of the National Men’s Health Strategy is that we should acknowledge the influence of gender on health and address the gender inequality issues faced by men. But what are the gender inequality issues that impact men and boys?

Raising men's issues with Government

The Government has launched a number of consultations in the past year that suggest it has limited interest in gender issues impacting men and boys. 

For example, its work to develop a new National Gender Equality Strategy predominantly focuses on issues impacting the lives and health of women and girls. 

Similarly, the Treasury's Measuring What Matters draft framework includes a focus on the gender issues that impact women and girls, but does not propose including a focus on the gender issues that impact men and boys.

We now have an opportunity to change this by taking part in the second round of consultations, and we need to act fast as the consultation closes on Friday 26 May. You can help us do this in one of three ways:

  • Complete our online survey to inform our submission to Government
  • Take part in an online focus group with us to provide more detailed input - register your interest here
  • Email your thoughts on whether the gender inequality issues that impact men and boys should be included in the Measuring What Matters framework directly to the Treasury via the consultation web page

Some of the areas of concern our submission will focus on are listed below.

Boys' Education 

Boys' education is a men's health issue. It has long been established that better education leads to better health.

In Australia, when we compare postgraduates with with adults who didn't complete Year 12 of school, we find they are twice as likely to have never smoked, twice as likely to meet guidelines of physical activity and nearly half as likely to drink excessively.

More starkly, a 25-year-old Australian man who hasn't been  to university, will die 11 years younger than a university-educated woman of the same age.  

The school system in Australia delivers better results for girls than boys at every stage of education, leading the Centre for Independent Studies to describe being a boy as being "an educational risk factor".

Men's Economic Wellbeing

In a recent survey of the Men's Health Sector, 75% of respondents said there are ways that men face economic disadvantage compared to women that the Government should tackle.

From a health perspective, the data is clear: the poorest 40% of men in Australia are nearly twice as likely to die prematurely as the richest 40% of men and three times as likely to die prematurely compared to the richest 40% of women.

While the Government has a Women's Economic Equality Taskforce, there appears to be no Government focus on the way gender impacts men's economic health and wellbeing.

More work needs to be done to understand the economic disadvantages that men face, which could include higher risk of homelessness, greater exposure to risky and unhealthy workplaces, and greater expectation to provide for others.

Work-Life Balance and Time Use 

According to the OECD Better Life Index, the amount of time a person spends at work is an important aspect of work-life balance. Evidence suggests that long work hours can negatively impact personal health, jeopardise safety and increase stress.

The Government's Measuring What Matters has two time-use indicators:

  • The number of hours worked (paid and unpaid)
  • The number of people working long hours
In terms of hours worked, women currently work 3% more paid and unpaid hours than men. The aim of this measure is to close the "gender gap" between men and men.

In terms of long-working hours, the OECD has highlighted this measure as a gender inequality issue that impacts three times more men than women. However, the Government has chosen to take a gender blind approach of counting the overall figure for "long hours in paid work" which obfuscates the gendered nature of the problem. 

The Gender Health Gap

Australia is one of the world’s healthiest countries yet there is a persistent gender health gap. Men born in Australia die nearly 7 years younger than women born in Australia.

We estimate that targeted action to improve men’s health could save the lives of more than 10,000 men a year. By reducing the number of male deaths to the same level as female deaths across 5 priority health issues, each year we could save the lives of:

• 1,500+ men who die by suicide
• 3,500+ men who die from cancers of the bowel, lung, mouth and skin
• 3,000+ men under 75 who die from heart disease and diabetes
• 1,500 + men die from accidents and injuries
• 750+ men who die from alcohol-induced deaths 


Men’s experiences of fatherhood are strongly associated with their health and wellbeing. Broadly speaking, positive experiences of fatherhood are linked to better health, while negative experiences of fatherhood are associated with poorer health.

The emerging National Gender Equality Strategy describes men's and women's experiences of parenting as a “motherhood penalty” and a “fatherhood premium”. In a recent survey of the men's health sector 83% said this is an unhelpful gender stereotype and 70% agreed that when a man and woman have children, most mums and dads make different but relatively equal sacrifices for the benefit of their families/children.

Our survey found strong support for the view that access to better parental leave is the key to shifting the balance of care within families. If men were given better parental leave rights and paternity pay, 87% say dads could spend more time at home caring for their family, if they wanted to and 86% say mums could spend more time at work to provide for their family, if they wanted to.

Two of the key gendered barriers that restrict fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives are the unequal distribution of parental leave to the unequal share of parenting time in separated families.

Our survey also found that, 86% of respondents said that separated fathers can face discrimination because of gender stereotypes about who is the best parent and 80% agree that single, separated fathers are impacted by gender inequality.

Social Connection and Mateship 

Social connection is a key protective factor that can help reduce the risk of poor physical and mental health. Time spent in social interactions is a key measure in the Measuring What Matters framework, which we welcome.

Our recent Men's Health Connected series on Social Connection, Mateship and Men's Health, explored this topic in detail. 

We also recommend that differences between men and women are highlighted. For example, data from the ABS reveals that men are nearly twice as likely as women  to say they have no family and friends to confide in (17.7% v 10.3%).

Keeping Men and Boys Safe

The OECD Better Life Index lists homicide as an area of gender inequality that impacts more men than women. There are other areas of personal safety that could be considered a gender inequality issue for men. These include the fact that men and boys account for: 

  • 3 in 4 road deaths
  • 7 in 10 deaths by accidental poisoning
  • 4 in 5 deaths by accidental drowning
  • 7 in 10 murders
  • 96% of workplace deaths

In a recent survey, 84% of respondents also told us that men who are victims of domestic or sexual violence are impacted by gender inequality and that they want the Government to do more to help and support male victims/survivors of violence.

Have your say
You can help us do this in one of three ways:
  • Complete our online survey to inform our submission to Government
  • Take part in an online focus group to provide more detailed input - register your interest here
  • Email your thoughts on whether the gender inequality issues that impact men and boys should be included in the Measuring What Matters framework directly to the Treasury via the consultation web page

Further Reading: 



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