Have your say on the Gender Equality Strategy
The Australian Government is inviting feedback on its plan for a new National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality. It says gender equality impacts everyone, so it wants to hear diverse voices and understand people's priorities across Australia.
The Government says the Strategy will place a strong focus on women and girls, as the group that disproportionately experiences the negative impacts of gender inequality. However, it says gender equality benefits all people and highlights the following issues that it says impact men and boys:
- Gender stereotypes about caring mean that men who do care work face discrimination about their ability to do their job.
- Gendered stereotypes and expectations in how we work can limit the take up of workplace leave arrangements by fathers who are not supported to take on care roles.
- Gender norms that contribute to increased health risks for men and boys, including men being less likely to seek health care and more likely to undertake harmful use of drugs and alcohol.
If you agree with the Government's view on men's issues or think there are other ways gender issues impact men and boys, then why not have your say and take part in our online survey.
The Government has identified seven key gender equality issues that it wants the Strategy to tackle. They are:
The Government says, "we have not achieved economic equality for women". The key measure of economic inequality is the amount of money women earn across their lifetime compared to men.
The Government says some of the main causes of this inequality include: the gender-segregated nature of the Australian workforce, the undervaluation of female-dominated work, women being twice as likely to work part-time and more likely to take significant time out of the workforce for child care.
Regarding gender-segregated occupations, as more women enter the workforce, the proportion of women in traditionally female-dominated industries has increased in the past 20 years. Women continue to be concentrated in Health Care and Social Assistance as well as Education and Training. Men are more likely to be found in Mining, Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services, Construction, and Manufacturing.
The Government says when women work more, it is good for everyone in Australia, but that women do not have the right support to work more.
Unpaid care work
The Government says "women bear the burden of care," not just for children, but also for ageing parents and people with disability. The overwhelming number of people taking primary carer leave are mothers, and more than twice as many women than men receive the Carer Payment.
The Government says women face a "motherhood penalty" because their earnings fall by 55% in the first five years of parenthood, while men experience a "fatherhood penalty," earning 7% more in the same period.
The Government says women should not have big money problems if they stop working to care for children.
Violence against women and girls
The Government says women experience high levels of gendered violence and are disproportionally impacted by family, domestic and sexual violence. It says violence against women and girls is a manifestation of inequality and discrimination based on gender, race, and other power imbalances. It is rooted in historically unequal power relations that view women and girls as subordinate to men and boys.
In October 2022, the Government launched its National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 to make communities safe for all women and children.
The Government says we cannot have gender equality until women and girls are safe.
The Government says sex and gender impact our health and access to health services.
It says that women are at greater risk of ill health than men at all stages of life and experience higher rates of chronic health conditions and poor mental health.
The Government says systemic issues in healthcare delivery and medical research mean women often suffer poorer health outcomes, with women disproportionately experiencing delay and diagnosis, overprescribing, and a failure to investigate symptoms properly.
The Government has established a National Women's Health Advisory Council to guide the delivery of the National Women's Health Strategy 2020-30. The Council will focus on a range of concerns, especially health system bias and barriers to health equity for women and girls.
At the launch of the National Women's Health Advisory Council, the Government said it would put 'medical misogyny' under the microscope to address the stark differences in health outcomes for women and girls.
The Government says we must have good health services because problems with health services can cause bad health in women.
Positions of power
The Government says women are under-represented in leadership and decision-making roles in almost all industries in the Australian workforce, accounting for 1 in 4 CEOs, 1 in 3 managers, 1 in 3 board members, and 1 in 5 board chairs.
One exception is The Australian Public Service (APS), where targeted gender equality strategies have seen more women promoted into senior leadership positions, with the proportion of women in senior executive roles in the APS increasing from 26.8 per cent in 2001 to 52 per cent in 2022.
Women also hold 51.4 per cent of Australian Government Board positions, up from 33.4 per cent in 2009 when targets were introduced.
In the Australian Parliament, women hold 44.4 per cent of seats across both chambers, including 38.4% per cent of seats in the House of Representatives and 56.6% in the Senate. The Cabinet includes 10 women (43.5%).
Women also account for 41.9 per cent of overall positions in State and Territory Parliaments in Australia.
The Government says we must have more women leaders in different workplaces.
Gender disadvantage across a lifetime
The Government says that gender inequality can impact us across our lives and be experienced differently at different times, with the impacts accumulating over a lifetime. It says financial insecurity, and time out of the workforce, for example, can impact women's lifetime earnings and retirement income.
The Government says women can have particular housing and financial security needs. Women experiencing violence may face a stark choice to stay in a relationship where violence is occurring, or to leave the relationship, but face ongoing financial hardship, homelessness or poverty.
Women who are victims of violence may experience a reduced capacity to attend work or be more likely to experience high levels of financial stress. Single women who don't have the economic security of a dual-income relationship may also be at increased risk of financial stress and becoming homeless.
The Government says that gender equality is good for everyone – women, men, and non-binary people. It wants Australia to be a leader in gender equality.
The Government says gender norms and stereotypes are holding us back by creating barriers to individual choices or opportunities, leading to different life outcomes, and reinforcing gender gaps.
They say that gendered stereotypes and norms are at the core of key gender equality challenges, including occupational gender segregation, the feminisation and undervaluing of care work, the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields, the underrepresentation of women in leadership and decision-making, and gender-based violence.
Some examples of gender stereotypes that the Government wants to challenge include those that frame girls and women as good at cooking, housework, and looking after people and less good at maths, leading or sport.
The Government wants to challenge stereotypes that frame boys and men as good at sport, fixing and building things, and leading, but less good at caring or showing emotion.
The Government says we can change gender norms with good government policies and must stop gender norms that harm us.