Unequal societies are less cohesive. They have higher rates of anti-social behaviour and violence. Countries with greater gender equality are more connected. Their people are healthier and have better wellbeing.
It is often said that gender equality is ‘good for everyone’ — women and men. But what would a more gender equitable society really look like?
In Australia, one in three women experience men’s violence.
Men also experience men’s violence and other negative impacts on their lives — including mental illness and suicide — due to rigid gender norms and systems and structures of inequality.
In a more gender equitable society, women and men could:
live their lives free from the threat of and actual male violence
express themselves in ways that felt right, for them, and that promoted their health and wellbeing.
In Australia, unpaid care work is distributed unequally between women and men.
Women spend nearly two thirds of their average weekly working time on unpaid care work, compared to just over one third for men. This means women do an average two hours and 19 minutes more unpaid care work than men, per day.
A more gender equitable division of domestic and care work could make for:
Happier relationships— research shows that gender imbalances around housework can lead to relationship friction and increase the likelihood of divorce.
Happier children— teens in countries where social norms are likely to support both parents’ involvement in childcare reported higher levels of life satisfaction than teens in countries with lower levels of gender equality.
Though Australia ranks number one in the world for women’s educational attainment, we rank 49th for women’s economic participation and opportunity. Women also continue to be over-represented in areas of study that are linked to lower earning industries.
More equitable post-school outcomes would mean a more prosperous economy— the Australian economy would gain $8 billion if women transitioned from tertiary education into the workforce at the same rate as men.
Currently, Australia’s national gender pay gap is around 14 per cent. At November 2019, women’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings, across all industries and occupations, was $1,508.50, compared to men’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings of $1,751.40.
We are yet to see a representative number of women reach the highest echelons of business and politics in Australia. Women make up 35% of federal parliamentarians and only 14 CEOs of Australia’s top 200 ASX-listed companies are women.
Fairer, more cohesive societies—women in positions of authority tend to resolve national crises without resorting to violence, advocate for social issues that benefit all and allocate greater proportions of national budgets to health and education.
This policy brief examines various proven solutions to addressing barriers in institutions, sociocultural norms and individual capacity in order to empower all girls and women and amplify their voices in decision-making processes.