Special Guest Writer
Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner responsible for Age Discrimination
When I was appointed as the federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner in September 2007, I was asked what my agenda would be and what issues I would focus on. Of course I came with my own ideas and experience, but I wanted to listen widely to the community, academics, policy makers and business. I needed to understand what women and men in 2008 thought were the pressing issues for gender equality and to listen to their ideas for change?
With these questions in mind, my Listening Tour kicked off in South Australia in November 2007 and my blog was launched. In my travels so far I have met a wonderfully diverse range of people – abattoir workers, young women, bankers, Chinese factory workers, African women, Indigenous women, community workers, academics, business, and members of parliament to name a few.
I have framed my Tour around three themes: economic independence for women, work and family balance over the lifecycle and freedom from discrimination, harassment and violence.
- Did you know that half of all women aged 45-59 have $8000 or less in superannuation?
- Did you know that women working full time earn only 84 cents in the male dollar?
- How is it that Australia remains one of only two OECD countries that doesn’t have a legislated right to paid maternity leave?
- Did you know that a study commissioned by HREOC found that 28 per cent of women had experienced sexual harassment in their workplace?
These issues are resonating with people on my Tour. I have heard stories of women anxious about their financial security in retirement, women struggling to balance their work and family commitments, men feeling pressured to be the primary bread winner, and appalling experiences of sexual harassment. I have heard about the particular experiences of Indigenous women not being able to find work because of racial prejudice and the horrifying experiences of women living with violence.
Regular updates on the Tour are posted on my blog which I encourage you all to read and contribute to. My rationale for setting up this interactive website was to start an online conversation about gender equality in 2008 which I hope to continue through my five year term. I am eager to hear your ideas and experiences so add me to your favourites and tell your friends about it.
In my speech for this year’s International Women’s Day I have called for women to speak up and support each other, and – where we can – use the technology at our fingertips to make our voices heard and the push for change. I encourage you to share your stories within your networks and inspire action amongst your friends. This is your chance to have a say in how we can achieve equality and build a better future for generations to come.
You can contribute to Commissioner Broderick’s Listening Tour at www.humanrights.gov.au/listeningtour
Australian Women Online thanks Elizabeth Broderick for her contribution to the website for International Women’s Day 2008. We hope to have Elizabeth back as a guest writer at a later date.