International Women’s Day: Five reasons life is hard for women in 2017 (and what you can do to improve it)
And on International Women’s Day many might assume that women have everything they could possibly want in this world.
Well, not quite. Here are five ways women still need to achieve equality and how you can make a difference.
In Australia you would assume all women have equal access to healthcare. But for many women, including those who live in regional and rural towns, getting access to basic healthcare is difficult.
Women still pay a tax on tampons and family planning laws are not consistent from state to state.
Overseas, health outcomes for women in developing countries are even worse. According to the OECD’s 2014 data, there were still 37.9 deaths per 1000 births in 2014 in India, compared to Australia which had 3.4 per 1000.
India’s figures are worse than Australia’s figures from 1960 which was 20.2 deaths per 1000 live births.
How can you help?
You can get involved with the Birthing Kit Foundation, an Australian-based foundation that provides a clean and safe birthing kit for women in developing countries to reduce the incidence of infant and maternal morbidity and mortality.
In 2015 in Australia there were almost 45,000 more women completing tertiary qualifications than men.
But the stats aren’t so good in other parts of the world. According to global education charity One Girl, 60 million girls around the world are denied an education.
One Girl CEO Morgan Koegel said investing in the education of girls and young women has flow on effects for her, her family and community.
“Education can change the trajectory of a woman’s life forever,” she said.
“It impacts on her health, her ability to earn an income and her capacity to create positive change in her community … which is why we’re on a mission to educate thousands of women and girls across Sierra Leone and Uganda this year – two of the most challenging places to be born female.”
And when you look at the research, you can see why it’s important to educate girls:
- Young women with eight years of education are four times less likely to marry as a child
- For every year a girl stays in school her income with increase by 10 to 20 per cent
- Each extra year of a mother’s education reduces the probability of infant mortality by five to 10 per cent
- Educated mothers pass on their education and are twice as likely to send their children to school
- See how you can help One Girl’s mission
A woman dies at the hands of a current or former partner almost each week in Australia.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety ‘Violence Against Women in Australia’ report notes that one in four women have experienced at least one incident of violence by an intimate partner they may or may not have been living with. And the ABS personal safety survey from 2012 showed 77 per cent of victims of domestic violence from the age of 15 were women.
The statistics are sobering.
So how can you help? If you’re in a domestic violence situation and need immediate help, phone 000.
If you want to help other women here are some of the services which help women throughout the country:
- In NSW you can support the Women’s Legal Service NSW who have a domestic violence legal advice line for victims, provide casework, face-to-face legal advice and advocacy and resources for women
- In the NT, Dawn House Women and Children’s Shelter is just one of the group’s helping women escape violence
- In WA, you can support Women’s Health and Family Services
- In SA, the Central Domestic Violence Service assists women in the Eastern and Western Suburbs of Adelaide
- In QLD, you can donate to DV Connect which runs a range of support services for women in crisis including a helpline, counselling, intervention, transport and emergency accommodation
- In TAS, the Salvation Army runs emergency DV accommodation services
- In VIC you can get behind the work of the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, which is a non-profit support service
The gender pay gap
Australia isn’t performing well when it comes to equal pay.
Last year the OECD Australian women were paid 17.3 per cent less than their male counterparts.
Female-dominated industries are still at the bottom rung of salaries and those who make it to the top are still paid less than their male counterparts, with female managers earning $100,000 less than men in the same role.
Not only does lower pay limit the opportunities of women throughout the country, it leaves a huge gap in contributions to superannuation.
Business and Professional Women Australia director of policy Elena Rorie, who advocates for closing the gender pay gap and promoting more women on boards and leadership positions, said it was time for organisations to start addressing the pay gap from within.
“The gender pay gap in Australia has fluctuated in the last two decades between 15 and 18 per cent, and last year showed an improvement from 17.9 per cent in 2015 to 16.2 per cent,” she said.
“Being a reasonably small pay gap comparing with other countries, can easily go unnoticed and be overlooked if is not kept in the public attention. While the national overall pay gap is improving the deeper you analyse the data on various industries and levels of leadership, the percentage wideness.”
So how can we fix it?
“Women can take affirmative action in supporting the gender equality by being selective, choosing the employers of choice based on verified data and promote and support other women within the workplace,” she said.
“(International Women’s Day) is a great opportunity to celebrate achievements as well as continue the dialogue and focus on finding solutions together.”
Work opportunities and other commitments
Ms Rorie said another major issue for women was opportunity. “Women are getting less super, fewer opportunities for promotion due to shared family and work commitments and competing interests,” she said.
“These facts are impacting on the overall economic security for women making them more vulnerable in the society at all levels.”
How can you help women improve their job chances?
Get involved with charities such as Dress for Success Sydney.
Dress for Success Sydney CEO Ursula McGeown said they empowered women to achieve financial independence through the right clothes, support and career tools.
“We empower women to take back their confidence and overcome their barriers to gaining and sustaining employment,” she said.
“An hour dressing, coaching or career workshop with us can restore a women’s self-belief and enhance her confidence and employability so that she can get that job, keep that job and change her life for good.”
For International Women’s Day the not-for-profit is running an Empower Hour, asking people to donate an hour of their pay to set a woman on her path to success, employment and financial independence.
“This hour could change a woman’s life forever,” she said.
From The Sydney Morning Herald