Take the gender action pledge

The IEU joined with Unions NSW in late 2021 in solidarity with the UN's 16 Days of Action against gender-based violence, an international campaign.

It’s never a bad time to listen and take stock of how things are going for women in workplaces and for those in domestic violent situations as well as in terms of our collective voice and legislative progress.

The topic of the evening webinar was Legislating for Gender Equality. In an interactive quiz question to the participants, the majority knew the correct estimation of how boards of companies are structured. While just 0.04 percent of boards do not include a man, more than 30 percent of corporate boards do not have a woman at the table.

We all know that gender norms negatively impact both women and men. Greens MP Abigail Boyd referred to these norms as an archaic model of relationships and emphasised that legislation needs to be supported by changes to society. The key to such a shift is a transition of values through a less gendered economy.

Boyd noted that gross domestic product doesn’t recognise the care of children in the home and there are lower rates of pay for caring professions such as early childhood education.

MP Emma Hirst, who represents the Animal Justice Party, talked about her experience of the widespread sexualised vitriol and threats of sexual violence that are inflicted upon female politicians online.

The forum also agreed that it was common for political colleagues and constituents to preference less senior male colleagues in a political party over their more senior female counterparts.

These factors are substantial contributors to the underrepresentation of women in politics and the reduction in their opportunities.

This leads to inequity in the focus on and resourcing of issues important to women, such as women’s health. For example, it can take an average of seven to nine years for a woman to get a diagnosis of endometriosis.

MP Penny Sharpe, for Labor, was asked what both women and men can do to create a space for more equitable representation of women in parliament.

Respondents thought women should mentor other women more and women who are new in politics and workplaces should actively seek out experienced female mentors.

Men in politics need to be aware of their male privilege and actively seek out female candidates for committee roles; and not just candidates who emulate male characteristics of leadership but who bring a greater diversity of traits.

All three presenters are currently engaged in the Women’s Health Committee, a cross-party alliance to increase public awareness and debate on women’s health and its consideration by parliament.

Sue McKay