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“Just get on with it” said Helen Conway, the soon to be former Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, from which she’ll retire in a week, but this last missile across the bows of stakeholders in the ongoing efforts to make equality a reality was perhaps the one she’s wanted to fire for some time.
The occasion was the annual International Women’s Day Forum at the National Press Club with a preamble from Senator Michaelia Cash, Minister assisting the PM for Women and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, followed by the Forum where Virginia Haussegger moderated for speakers Yassmin Abdel-Magied the Queensland Young Australian of the Year, Julie McKay Executive Director of UN Women Australia and Helen Conway.
The UN Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing in 1995 and the document on the aspirations of that conference is a mighty formidable one that is available online and lists the strategic action required in critical areas of concern. And no we’ve not come a long way since then. 2015’s International Women’s Day is tagged as Beijing + 20 saying let’s not wait another 20 years for gender equality. Well with the pay gap now at 19% and domestic violence on everyone’s radar as a woman is murdered every week by an intimate partner, our near neighbours in the South Pacific region have had little improvement in the last 30 years in so many basic areas, it does make you wonder how we can just get on with it. We should have started decades ago teaching our children, exposing the failings in our communities and finding the courage to actually make things change as it is incumbent on us all to just get on with it!
Lets start with that pay gap, then make gender equality a reality.