A REFLECTION ON GENDER EQUALITY AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO CONTIBUTE TO CHANGE AND A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Reflecting upon this years IWD theme, Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow, lots of different elements came flooding to mind. First, I wanted to pay homage and reflect on the people that moved towards gender equality long before me. On December 18, 1894, the South Australian parliament was the first electorate in the world to give women equal political rights to vote and stand for parliament^. This was the result of a decade of struggle and fight, persistence and determination. If it wasn’t for these people, like so many others around the world, women wouldn’t have the rights and independence that we have today.
It’s alarming to know that in Australian today, women are paid 17.5% less than men doing the same work.^^ This means that women would have to work an extra 64 days each year to get the same pay as men performing the same role, duties and responsibilities.^^
What can you do to narrow or eliminate the pay-gap?
Firstly, commit to all future hirings having the same offer for the top candidates regardless of age, gender, race or creed. In your organisation, if you are aware of pay inequality, speak up and ask for it to be rectified. Ensure that at performance reviews, what you are asking of the female candidates is the same being asked of a male in the same role (you may be surprised to realise that women are underpaid and achieving far more, therefore a greater asset to the company). Finally, ask for a pay rise for yourself! My philosophy is if you don’t ask, you will never know… what’s more, the worst response will be “no” and that hopefully comes with some constructive feedback for you to work on and ask again in the future.
Your personal attitude contributes considerably towards gender equality. For instance, don’t say you can’t because you always can! You can try your best and give everything a go. Some things you may like and others you may not. Sometimes, your best may not be good enough and you can ask for assistance – but don’t avoid try because someone told you that you couldn’t. What do you do and what you say models the next generation say, action and believe.
In my mind, what we do today will be realised tomorrow. it’s all about creating a future generation where gender equality is the norm and hopefully the gender pay-gap becomes an issue of the past just like women’s independence and voting rights.
When raising children today, it’s essential to remove the future gender stereotypes – buy your son a kitchen, doll and broom. Buy your daughter a truck, football and lego. Embrace pink, blue, green and purple for both boys and girls. Let girls play rugby and cricket, let boys participate in gymnastics, netball and sewing. Expose children to different sorts of sports, activities and interests so that they can understand where their passion lies and where they want to invest their energy rather than being told “good girls don’t do that”.
There’s more you can do at home by modelling and leading by example. By simply sharing the stereotypical domestic duties you will demonstrate to the next generation that women can be as effective as men – women can mow the lawn and put the bins out as easily as any man. Just as men can do the washing, cooking, cleaning and child-rearing as well as any woman.
As with many things, it is going to be a process. May we all have the strength and fortitude of the people before us to make a lasting change towards equality. May our eyes be always open to see new opportunities to effect equality. May we speak up against injustice and promote fairness for our fellow men and women. May the small steps that each of us make add up to create change, equality and sustainable future.
^ https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/womens-suffrage#:~:text=On%2018%20December%201894%20the,them%20to%20stand%20for%20parliament. ^^ https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/education/womens-rights
Photo credit: Humanrights.gov.au