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International Women’s Day 2016 has come and gone. And while there was no dancing in the streets, protests against all those things that irk us as modern women or grand gestures by government to make amends for all the inequality that still exists there were events to make us think beyond the confines of suburbia.
But did we think for a nano second about the tragedy that is the refugee crises in Europe, the inequality and third world health issues that still exists for our first Australians or the abject poverty in this world? Probably not but we did proselytize on equal pay for equal work, gender bias, domestic violence and child care costs.
The British High Commission with the Australia Britain Chamber of Commerce held a breakfast discussion at the National Press Club with a panel of impressive women hosted by British High Commissioner Menna Rawlings that brought together ABC’s Virginia Haussegger , the head of the government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency Libby Lyons, the indefatigable campaigner against domestic violence Rosie Batty and the always impressive Secretary of the Department of Finance Jane Halton. It was an intelligent and interesting discussion with balanced views and a sense of how we’ve come a long way but the light at the end is drifting further away.
Do we need quotas to secure a balance in the upper echelons of government and business? Probably because as articulated by Kate Carnell at another recent panel discussion there’s an attitude with boards to see who knows a bloke for a vacancy; but government must lead by example and the Abbott cabinet with one woman now replaced by the Turnbull cabinet with five of the 21 ministers women brought some sense of relief, but we’ve got a long way to go.
But as we look back at the history of this International (Working) Women’s Day and celebrate the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women that had its beginnings in a socialist doctrine we have to be proud that as women we’ve come a long way, but need to pick up speed on the issues that are no-brainers.
Oh and if you were wondering, and a bloke asks, International Men’s Day is 19 November.