Aslan Shand, deputy editor
It is easy to think we have almost achieved equality for men and women in a country like Australia – just as long as you don’t think too hard about it.
Just as long as you don’t dig beneath the ease of daily, comfortable life.
But when you take a moment to look around, there are clear signs that there is still a long way to go for women in first world countries, let alone for those in the developing world.
There are the obvious statistics around domestic violence – each week in Australia a woman is murdered by her current or former partner.
It can be seen in the response to former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, when she alleged she had been raped at Parliament House in Canberra, and felt that she would lose her job if she spoke out.
It is there in the murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children by her former partner in February 2020; and that has raised the issue of making coercive control a crime.
But it is also there in other ways, ever present in our lives.
It ranges from more often asking a male to be an expert on a topic, to expecting women and men to fulfil gendered roles in the home and at work.
And while at work, women also face lower salaries. According to the federal government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency pay gap statistics, women on average earn 13.4 per cent less than men for the same sort of job.
It is in the expectations that we give our children; that boys can’t sit still and the assumption that a child dressed in pink is a girl.
And that’s a recently acquired assumption: the June 1918 edition of the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department noted that, ‘The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls’.
It is there when we tell our sons they need to be tough, and not to cry and vice versa for our daughters.
The theme for IWD is Choose to Challenge.
This is a challenge to everyone, every person, to look around them and call out gender inequality when they see it, from the big to the small.
The reality is that by bringing these issues to our own, our friends’, and our children’s attention, we can make a fairer and more equitable world for everyone, because we chose to change what is assumed to be acceptable into something that is unacceptable.
Rape is illegal in marriage in Australia today, but it wasn’t criminalised in all Australian states until 1994, when the Northern Territory became the last region to criminalise marital rape.
Every time we choose to challenge a comment, idea, or behaviour that does not support equality, then we choose to be part of making the world the place we want it to be.
#ChooseToChallenge and be part of the 2021 International Women’s Day movement regardless of gender www.iwda.org.au.
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