Equality? Not Yet!

Today is officially International Women’s Day. It is a day of taking stock of where we’ve been and where we still need to go. Have women throughout the world gained equality? Not yet – but we are working on it.

Australia was:

My grandmother was fighting for equality for women in the early part of the twentieth-century. More than a hundred years later, we are still fighting for equality.

While some professions acknowledge the work of women as equal to men, and pay accordingly, others do not. Women, especially Baby Boomers, had to leave employment to raise children. When superannuation was introduced, the missing years of employment meant less superannuation. Is it any wonder the rate of homelessness among older women is so high?

Times are changing…

The introduction of paternity leave is helping to level the financial playing field for women, but the changes have come too late for the women of my era.

According to YourLifeChoices.com.au,

“Fifty-two per cent of Australians living in poverty are female, according to the Poverty in Australia 2018 report prepared by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the University of NSW.


Median super balances for men and women in 2015-16, according to the Australian Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), were:

50-54-year-olds men $99,000, women $45,000
55-59-year-olds men $115,000 women $50,000
60-64-year-olds men $110,000 women $36,000
65-69-year-olds men $32,000 women $9900.”


The superannuation figures quoted above indicate we still have a long way to go.

Back in the old days….

In my grandmother’s day, if a woman secured employment post-school, she had to resign when she married and/or became pregnant.

My grandmother wrote to the Government in the 1900s to lobby for financial assistance for raising children. It was not uncommon back then to have ten or more children in a family, and raising them on a single income was difficult. The Child Endowment Act was introduced in 1941, and amended in 1942 to mandate that payments be made directly to the mother, and to include children in government-run institutions, and Aboriginal children living on missions.


In 1940, a female Public Servant officer had to resign when she married. During the war years this was overturned, as there was a need to keep women in the workforce due to the number of men away at war. Once the war was over, women were again forced to resign (Regulation 53), except for widows, divorcees, and women separated from their husband who did not receive any financial support. In 1966, females in the Commonwealth Public Service were able to remain in employment after their marriage. In 1982, the Commonwealth Government legislated for the prevention of discrimination against women.

Where are we now?

Thanks to the Suffragettes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the continued pressure on governments, a young woman of today has better prospects of financial security in retirement than those of the Baby Boomer era.

On this, the International Women’s Day of 2019, I’ve heard the question, “Do we still need to celebrate an international day for women?”.

Whilever statistics of domestic violence against women are unacceptably high – then yes, we do.

Whilever women are not safe to walk alone on streets at night – then yes, we do.

And whilever there is a disparity between the pay of a male and his female counterpart – then yes, we do.

Equality? Not yet!

On this, and every International Women’s Day until we have reached equality and safety for all women, we should celebrate International Women’s Day. It will continue to be the one day of the year when the world can take stock of gender equality. By focusing on the issues, we can plan for a better future.

I gratefully acknowledge the dedication and sacrifice of the suffragettes and women like my grandmother, who refused to accept the inequalities of the gender-divide, and stood up for the rights of women. We still haven’t achieved full equality on all levels, but we continue to push forward, and that is what matters.

I honour and thank all women for their contribution to society, no matter how insignificant they may feel their contribution is. And I urge us all to continue to demand equality for all women, everywhere.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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Posted by Maureen

Owner and Administrator of website: maureendurney.com

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