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  • Writer's pictureCaterina Sullivan

Gender Inequality Doesn't Exist in Australia; Does It?

Updated: Nov 4, 2018

Image credit: Caterina Sullivan

During the negotiation process, Australia was instrumental in securing Goal 5: Gender Equality as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Gender Equality has not yet been achieved in Australia. So why are people saying it has?

When I first started in my role at the Global Goals Australia Campaign, I was shocked as to how many Australians – both men and women – believed we had total gender equality in Australia.

At times, when I have questioned this further, I have received the response, “Well, we don’t make our women wear burqas, do we?”

This worries me sincerely – that some people’s idea of gender equality is having the “freedom” to not wear some kind of religious garment, which for many women, is actually their choice to wear.

No, we instead flood mainstream media and social media with images of increasingly sparsely dressed women, sexualising them and pressuring young girls and women into some kind of object of pleasure for men. And then, we cast shame on them for doing so, as if women are not allowed to be sexual beings in a similar manner to which men are sexual beings.

The gender inequality we experience in Australia is largely subliminal. It’s threaded between the lines.

“You throw like a girl.”

“Stop crying, you big girl.”

“Grow a pair of balls.”

This is not to say that gender inequality in Australia is entirely imperceptible. There are many statistics which outline inequality among men and women, including those around domestic and sexual violence and the gender pay gap.

Australia ranks 46th out of 144 on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2016 with a score of 72% equality. While we are ranked top for educational attainment, we rank only 42nd for economic participation and opportunity, 61st for political empowerment and 72nd for health and survival. In the last 10 years, our equality score has only improved by half a percentage point ( from 0.716 to 0.72). At this rate of change, it will take us 169 years to close this gap.

The first step towards gender equality is to recognise and acknowledge that there is a problem. Once we do that, we can begin working towards a solution!

This article was originally published on the Global Goals Australia Campaign website.

#goal5 #genderequality #australia

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