In March every year – we mark International Women’s Day.
It’s a day to celebrate women.
It’s a day to acknowledge the immense contribution women make to our economy, our society and our lives.
It’s a day to recognise how far we have come – once women couldn’t vote, and now we’re leading countries.
We once faced restrictions on where we worked, and we’re now running corporations.
We have rights our grandmothers could only have dreamed about…and yet we still don’t have complete equality.
While it’s important to recognise how far we have come, it’s clear to see how far we still must go.
That has been particularly evident over the past week as we look around this place and listen to the stories of women and their experiences here.
Stories like that of Brittany Higgins.
And I want to say to Brittany that you have shown enormous courage over the past week and indeed over the past few years.
What happened to you shouldn’t have – and it’s as simple as that.
Your bravery will give other women courage and make this a safer workplace for all.
You are leading change for the better, so that every woman is safe.
That is every woman’s right inside these four walls, and outside this place.
We must do better – our lives depend on it.
The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Index ranks Australia 44th out of 153 countries.
Australia has dropped 5 places in 2 years and in 2006, Australia was ranked 15th.
Mr Deputy Speaker, the statistics are sobering:
- 87,000 women are killed every year just because they are women. Of those, 50,000 are killed by their male partners or family members – and those are only the deaths we know about
- 111 countries have no repercussions for husbands who rape their wife
- 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men
- 4% is the size of Australia’s gender pay gap – As of May 2020, women’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings across all industries and occupations was $1,558.40 compared to men’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings of $1,812.00
- 45 countries do not have specific laws against domestic violence
- 35% of women globally have experienced sexual or physical violence
As I said, we must do better – our lives depend on it.
And it is incumbent upon us, as leaders of this nation, to lead that change and to callout gender bias and inequality where and when we see it.
As the first ever female member for Eden-Monaro, this is something I’m incredibly committed to doing.
And I know that I’m backed up by my sisters across the electorate – who are working every single day to lead this change.
Strong women like Chris Walters and Danielle Murphy at the Cobargo Bushfire Relief Centre – who have been tirelessly serving their community as it continues to recover from the Black Summer bushfires.
Strong women like Christine Welsh from the Sapphire Community Pantry – who dedicates her life to helping others in our community with their basic needs like food.
Strong women like Tarni Evans – a talented AFL player who has played for both Tathra SeaEagles and Queanbeyan Tigers – leading the field in her chosen sport and changing attitudes along the way.
Strong women like Queanbeyan's Justine Brown - a proud Ngunnawal women, an Aboriginal Health Worker with Grand Pacific Health, and the business brain and passion behind Mulleun [Mull-i-arn] Dreaming.
People like Zoe Joseph from the Bombala Chamber of Commerce – a dynamo of change for her community.
And business leaders like Jane Cay from Birdsnest in Cooma – who runs one of the most successful retail businesses in the country.
These women are out in their communities leading the way every day of the year – not just on International Women’s Day.
They did this important work before the pandemic…and they’ll continue to do it post-pandemic.
But I think it’s important to recognise the heavy burden women are carrying in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic – as frontline workers, as parents, and as community members.
More women have lost their jobs, more women have lost their hours, more women have been exposed to the virus and women have an increased risk of family and domestic violence.
I know that Labor, the party of equal representation, will continue to call on the Government to deliver a COVID-19 response and economic plan that benefits all Australians.
Photo: Queanbeyan's Justine Brown, a proud Ngunnawal women