Life

The #FearlessGirl Statue Now In Melbs Is A Huge Wake Up Call For Gender Equality In Aus

She may be small but boy oh boy the message of Fearless Girl is anything but. She’s exactly what she sounds, she’s fearless. She’s symbolic of the plight for women’s rights and gender equality the world over. She’s arrived in Melbs and is standing valiantly in Federation Square ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8. She’ll call Aus home for the next 2 years.

She’s a symbol for the international plight but the statue of #FearlessGirl is also a cue to a nation-wide wake up call. A self-examination so to speak. How is Australia faring in terms of gender equality? Are we still shooting up the ranks in terms of gender diversity? Or have we stalled far below the ceiling of total diversity and equality? What about the pay gap?

Australian superannuation funds HESTA and Cbus are sponsoring Fearless Girl’s stay and being the leading companies for gender diversity in their industries, we thought it was timely to look at how things are faring on the home front.

Diversity has improved & attitudes are changing

In the space of under 10 years, women on the boards of ASX200 companies have jumped from 8.3% to 26.2% in 2018. In addition to changes in the dynamics of the corporate world, attitudes have also taken a shift. An overwhelming 90% of men and women believe that men should share just as an important role in parenting as women. There’s no denying that this attitudinal shift effectively plants the seed for legal amendments to soon follow. So yes, this is one positive thing.

Equal pay gap has widened

Yet what seems to remain ignored is that Australia has halted in the plight for gender equality when it comes to equal pay. Equal pay for an equal job. It’s the most basic and fundamental signal to equality yet you’d be foolish to think that it’s improving. As of August last year, the gender pay gap in Australia was the worst it has been for two decades. Full-time working women on average earn $244.80 less than their male counterparts each week. To even the playing field, women would have to work an extra 2 months per year.

But that’s not the answer and it’s definitely not the point.

We’ve worsened on a global scale

As of 2017, we were ranked 35th on a global scale for gender equality which on the surface, sounds bleak in itself. It gets worse. We were once sitting at the 15th mark and we’ve gradually slipped back. The meanings behind the numbers would suggest that women’s educational rights and access are indeed improving but we’re handicapped by very low levels of equality in economic participation and opportunity as well as political empowerment.

So where to from here?

It would be ignorant of me to simply just say ‘the only way is up’ when we’ve actually been sliding backwards. So let me put it this way. The only way forward is ensuring there’s change and progression happening on all fronts, not just some. The arrival of Fearless Girl is a reminder to us that we’ve come a long way, but it also signals the road ahead. Let’s ensure we keep moving forward, not backwards.

 

Data from Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Image Source: @Wpi_homes Instagram, Fearless Girl Facebook, @CbusSuperFund Twitter, Unsplash, 

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Kiah is a lover of anything to do with brunch, the outdoors and all types of wine and cheese combinations.

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