Published by the Faculty of Business, Government and Law, University of Canberra

BroadAgenda

Research and Stories through a Gendered Lens

No! Not Equal: gender equality in Australia

Mar 24, 2017 | News

Written by Dina Bowman

In many ways, Australian women’s and girls’ lives are very different to those of their mothers and grandmothers. Women are better educated, have more choice about their family lives and are more likely to be in paid work. Some of the major inequalities that existed between men and women have been challenged and there have been many firsts — including a first
female prime minister, governor-general and attorney general, as well as several state premiers.

On many indicators, Australia appears to be doing well. It ranked fifth out of 128 countries on the Women’s Economic Opportunity Index 2012, which measures women’s economic advancement. Nevertheless, persistent inequalities remain in many areas of public and private life. They affect health, safety, personal relationships, and women’s and girls’ ability to build sustainable livelihoods. Inequalities tend to be cumulative and compounding, casting shadows across the lives of women and girls from the early years, through the school years and adolescence, the prime working and reproductive years, and into retirement and later life.

One of the main consequences of gender inequity is that women are more vulnerable to poverty and financial hardship throughout life. Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen recognised that ‘within every community, nationality and class the burden of hardship often falls disproportionately on women’. Sen pointed out that poverty is not just about a lack of money. Other factors narrow opportunity and create deprivation.

One of the main consequences of gender inequity is that women are more vulnerable to poverty and financial hardship throughout life.

Drawing on Sen’s work, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research has developed a set of indicators to measure ‘social exclusion’ – the extent to which individuals experience ‘multiple, overlapping problems, such as unemployment, poor health and inadequate education, which stop them fully participating in society’. The monitor shows that women are much more likely to experience social exclusion than men. Gender, race, age, parenting status, disability and other structures of inequality work together to shape an individual’s experience of social exclusion and disadvantage, so the impacts of gender inequalities differ — and are often worse — for women who also experience other forms of inequality. Other factors such as health and housing security or homelessness also have major impacts on the lives of women and girls, and these will be explored through a series of blog posts.

This is an edited excerpt from the e-book ‘No! Not Equal’ by Dina Bowman & Yvette Maker (2015) published by Future Leaders. We will explore each chapter in coming months on BroadAgenda. You can download a chapter from the book for free here.

Highlighted article

Other highlighted articles

Across continents: Hazzard and Harrower’s intimate correspondence

Across continents: Hazzard and Harrower’s intimate correspondence

Elizabeth Harrower and Shirley Hazzard were among the most admired Australian writers of the 20th century. Since their deaths in the past decade their papers have revealed that they kept up a fascinating correspondence between Sydney, New York and Italy for 40 years. ...

Exploring gender equality in international affairs

Exploring gender equality in international affairs

The appointment of prominent businesswoman Sam Mostyn as Australia’s 28th Governor-General was met with backlash from some quarters of the media who questioned her suitability for the role and seemed to imply Mostyn was only selected for the position because of her...

What I’ve learned after 12 years fighting on the frontline

What I’ve learned after 12 years fighting on the frontline

As I step down from my role at Meridian – Canberra’s leading LGBTIQA+ organisation – after 12 years, I reflect on how we can priorities lived experience in policy, research and service delivery. How we talk about lived experience is critical. It defines how we engage...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This