International Women's Day was celebrated last week as police were investigating the murder of a woman at the hands of her intimate partner. Sydney dentist, Preethi Reddy, was the 13th woman in Australia to be killed this year. On average, one woman every week in this country is killed by a partner or ex-partner.
Prime Minister Morrison, in a speech to an IWD breakfast, said that he wouldn't want to "see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse." Others? What sort of others? Wombats? Amoebas? Viral bacteria? Of course, no Australian woman would want to press her own advancement at the expense of native wildlife, but what other sort of 'others' might the PM have meant?
What the Prime Minister appears not to realise is that the advancement of women, in the workforce, in politics, in society, is not a zero-sum game. A step forward for women is not a step back for 'others'. In fact, a step forward for women is a step forward for everyone. Unless, perhaps, you're a weak prime minister whose job is under threat from a strong female colleague.
In Australia, women earn, on average, 14.1% less than men. There are a number of factors, but primarily, female-dominated professions are less valued than those where men are prevalent. Yet, look at the female-dominated professions: teaching, nursing, childcare, social work. By elevating the value of these vital professions, more people - women as well as 'others' - will be attracted to them and standards and accountability levels will improve.
Women still perform the bulk of unpaid work in society, specifically housework and child-rearing. The 2016 census revealed that the average Australian woman spent nine hours a week performing unpaid domestic work, while 'others' typically spent less than five hours. Bringing greater equality to domestic work leaves both partners in a household with more time for family and other activities.
Despite being 51% of the global population, women occupy less than 24% of parliamentary seats worldwide. Australia is ahead of the average at 32% but there's not a lot there to crow about. Greater female representation in parliaments will promote equality in policy and law which ultimately benefits everyone.
The theme for IWD 2019 was 'balance'. Achieving gender equality is balance. A balanced society is one in which everyone can rise to her or his potential for the betterment of all.