Women earn $2 million less over their lives. Fixing this will help prevent violence against women

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Author: Our Watch media team
Posted: 24 Oct, 2023
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    The Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce 10-year plan aims to speed up the slow progress of gender equality in the workforce.

    Inequality costs the economy $128 billion a year. It also provides the environment for violence against women to occur in our workplaces, community and homes.

    Patty Kinnersly, CEO of national violence prevention organisation Our Watch, welcomed the 10-year-plan.

    “Embedding gender equality in every workplace and across our economy is key to preventing and ending violence against women in the workplace and broader community,” she said.

    “It creates a culture of respect, opportunities for women to progress into leadership, to boost their pay and financial security and creates a safe work environment where sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women simply cannot take place.”

    More than 40% of women have experienced sexual harassment at work in the past five years and one in four women has experienced violence from an intimate partner. The evidence shows that where women are more equal, violence, including harassment, is less common.

    The Taskforce’s 10-year-plan includes a focus on addressing systemic barriers to employment equality such as access to affordable and available childcare and recognising the value and importance of unpaid care. It also recommends policy changes for workplaces to be more active in delivering on gender equality, including recommending priority access to government contracts for businesses that have compressively delivered on gender equality.

    “Some of the recommendations build on the new positive duty laws that require employers to take proactive steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. This means making significant changes to embed gender equality and respect throughout all areas of a workplace,” Ms Kinnersly said.

    “What this looks like in practice is firstly understanding the problems with existing policies, pay and culture that directly or indirectly favour one gender over another and making changes to remove those barriers.

    “It means looking at how policies affect both genders differently, such as, is paid parental leave provided to both primary and secondary carers? Are male workers encouraged to take up part time and flexible working opportunities to have more balance between work and caring responsibilities?

    “Are opportunities for promotion open to staff who work part-time so that women, who are twice as likely to work part-time, are not blocked from career progression?

    “These are some of the things that workplaces can do to deliver on gender equality and build a more respectful, inclusive and safe work environment for all staff.”

    One of the largest barriers to gender equality is attitudes that persist around gender stereotypes – the ideas about traditional roles of both men and women. The Taskforce Plan points to the need for population wide strategies for addressing these biases.

    Our Watch continues to advocate for the adoption of Respectful Relationships Education across Australia. Respectful Relationships Education helps young people identify and challenge harmful gender stereotypes and build positive and respectful relationships. It is a key initiative to help deliver the generational change needed to see an Australia free from gender-based violence.

    “Women should not be expected to earn $2 million less over their lifetime or to live and work in places where inequality continues to create an environment where violence against women can thrive.”

    Media contact

    Please contact media@ourwatch.org.au or call 0448 844 930.

    If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

    1800RESPECT is the national domestic, family, and sexual violence counselling, information and support service. If you or someone you know is experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, domestic, family or sexual violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732, chat online via www.1800RESPECT.org.au, or text 0458 737 732.

    To access guides for reporting about violence against women and their children, visit www.ourwatch.org.au/media-and-reporting

    Our Watch

    Our Watch is a national leader in Australia’s work to stop violence against women and their children before it starts. The organisation was created to drive nation-wide change in the practices, norms, and structures that lead to violence against women and children.