Is Australia the unlucky country for women

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Another International Women’s Day (IWD) has passed. The annual day to acknowledge achievements of women was this year was no cause for celebration. Instead, it was a stark reminder about just how far we still have to come as a society to achieve gender equality.

IWD roots go back almost a century at a time when, according to the campaign website, ‘women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change.’ However, despite the contributions made over the past 100 years we still have so far to go.

To mark this year’s IWD, UN Women held events that filled conference rooms across the country and discussed how to shift society’s paradigm. Here in Perth, I was invited to present the findings from the Committee for Perth’s study into why Perth’s women weren’t getting ahead – Filling the Pool. I spoke about the four pillars that the researchers uncovered which are required for a woman with caring responsibilities to successfully juggle work and career – spouse support, family support, childcare and flexible work.

The four pillars recognise the structural and cultural barriers to women’s participation and progression in the workforce and it’s critical that they work in tandem. The pillars address the overemphasis on mothering, not parenting, and are compounded by the lack of facilities that provide quality, affordable and reliable childcare. Pre-COVID, access to flexible work conditions was also a barrier. However, during COVID many people were forced to work from home and most came to the stark realisation that the sky doesn’t fall in. As a result, we’re seeing more flexible working opportunities mainstreamed by employers.

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.