International Women's Day
What is it and why have it?
IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
The day has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911. It is not country, group or organisation specific – and belongs to all people collectively everywhere.
Gender equality in Australia
A recent national survey by the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation found that the vast majority of Australians (88%) believe that gender inequality is still a problem in Australia.
Women in the workforce
Women comprise 47% of all employed people in Australia – but a large portion of them only work part-time or in casual positions. In fact, Australia has one of the highest rates of casual work among the OECD’s 34 member nations, and the majority of our part-time workers (68%) are women.
Women at home
In Australia, two out of three women spend substantially more time than men on unpaid work caring for others.
The unequal distribution of unpaid care work reinforces gender stereotypes, such as the ‘male breadwinner model’ and contributes to the gender inequalities in the labour market.
Women also continue to do the bulk of the housework. In a recent survey 86% of women said they do the majority of the housework while 73% of men in the survey stated they were the primary breadwinners.
Gender pay gap
The pay gap between Australian men and women has fluctuated between 14% and 20% over the past twenty years. The most recent data shows that when we compare all full-time workers, women earn on average 15.5% less than men (base salary), which amounts to $15,176 less per year.
If we look at total remuneration, which includes overtime and bonus payments, as well as performance pay and superannuation, then women on average earn 20.8% less than men, or $25,679 per year.
At retirement age (60-64 years old) women on average have 42% less superannuation than men of the same age.
Women in leadership
Around the world women are only 24% of all national parliamentarians and 21% of government ministers.
Globally, there are three nations with no women in their national parliament (all 3 are close neighbors of Australia in the Pacific).
Of the 193 members of the United Nations, 27 have parliaments with less than 10% of seats held by women.
Since Federation in 1901 Australia has had only one female Prime Minister, and one female Governor-General.
In our most powerful governing body, the House of Representatives, women are significantly outnumbered, with 105 men to just 46 women.
Women are also outnumbered in business leadership, with only 14% of Chairs being women, 17% of CEOs, 26% of Directors, and 31% of Managers.
Indigenous women’s rights and freedoms
The erosion of indigenous women’s rights and freedoms has become so serious that Australia’s record on women’s rights was reviewed by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in Geneva in July 2018, and was found to be in breach of Australia’s compliance with its international obligations.
Of particular concern is the endemic nature of violence against women in Australia. This impacts disproportionately on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women with disabilities (who are 40% more likely to experience domestic violence than women without a disability) and women from a culturally and linguistically diverse background.
Of course it is impossible to understand the struggle for Indigenous women’s rights and freedoms without understanding the difficult experience of Indigenous Australian peoples with democracy over the past century.
Inspiring IWD video messages
Australia’s first and only woman Governor General, Her Excellency Dame Quentin Bryce AC CVO shares the importance of IWD and what it means to her.