Break the Bias

Women in Australia have been fighting for the right to equal pay since early this century. The principle of equal pay for equal work was recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Since then, women’s right to equal remuneration has gained increasing international support. Australian women workers were granted equal pay in 1969.

Twenty years ago, ten years ago, five years ago, I kept thinking well at least my granddaughters will not have to fight for equal pay and respect like I did. But that simply isn’t true. Despite laws against pay inequality, those same battles continue to be fought.

I spent most of my working life in Perth – except for a decade in Hong Kong where amazingly I faced no discrimination and always received equal pay. But here in Western Australia, the gender pay gap is the largest in Australia at 21.9%, with men earning approximately $23,000 more over the course of a year than women. Western Australia is followed by Queensland and then NSW as the states with the next highest pay gaps. 

I am so angry about this situation. We have to keep talking about the gender pay gap and bringing it into the open. When I discuss this with most of the men I know, they are appalled… they simply don’t know.

I tried to think of some positives for this week’s International Women’s Day and there are many.  Young women have once again found their voices led by Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins. If you didn’t hear the joint address by these two young women at the National Press Club early in February, I urge you to take 30 minutes to listen to it. 

I hope we see the change they are so passionately advocating for reflected in a change of Federal government at the coming elections. If ever there was a government with a tin ear about women and women’s issues, it’s this one. 

The #metoo movement has developed into a strong force in discussions around the world. So much for those who said it was a fad!  I know many women (myself included) who signed up to support #metoo about their experiences of discrimination in the workplace and we are still a powerful cohort for change. 

Personally, I will keep advocating and writing for women everywhere.

Enough is enough.