By Elina Banerji and Anika Banerji
Here in Australia, the mere idea of gender inequality in society doesn’t seem to exist. Under the surface though, even in a Western first-world country, chauvinism exists, and is quite pertinent.
Living in the contemporary world, Australian women are fed up with being unequal in a society that claims to be far ahead of other nations, yet continues to flounder with domesticated roles - some of which being inflicted by the Australian Government. Until this point, the government has failed to deliver meaningful reform for women. For many years, gender inequality in the employment sector hasn’t been recognised, however, as times have changed, so have perspectives. Most Australians can now see the glaring and unfortunately broadening gaps that have existed for generations. Over the past few months, these gaps have been further exposed and the social fury is resounding.
Nevertheless, if the government is truly “listening to women” as Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently promised, we’ll hopefully start seeing some big reforms coming out of our federal budget which was handed down last week.
Currently, the Government’s paid parental leave is inadequate and disproportionate, and seriously out of touch with modern-day family ideals. It supports the notion of ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ caretakers by offering the former 18 weeks leave at minimum wage. As a result, it reinforces the presumption of domesticated roles, as women are taking a heftier chunk of maternity leave in comparison to their paternal counterparts. In fact, only 1 in 20 Australian men take paid paternity leave. That’s why we need to incorporate a system - one that works effectively in nations such as Sweden & Norway - which offers incentives for parents who take equal time off. It is now more pivotal than ever to integrate such systems as we can’t exacerbate pre-existent gender-based biases. So why are we dealing with patriarchy in evolution?
Furthermore, roles in the workplace have always indicated some sort of gender supremacy - but over the last few years, men and women with the same qualifications have been able to take on the same roles, with the same expectations. So finally when the scales are balanced, why is the pay gap so unbalanced? Why is there a 13.4% gender pay gap? Why is it, that in a country, where justice and prejudice are pre-eminent, that men and women are to be treated divergently, when they have the same skill set and are working the same job? We in Australia pride ourselves on equity and impartiality, yet women in the 21st Century, empowered by the same education and privilege that men have, are earning on an average in a lifetime basis around $300,000 less compared to men in Australia.
In the 1960s women campaigned for equal rights regarding their wages, and this motion was passed in 1969 - with anti-discrimination on the basis of sex later legislated in 1984. So why is it now, that women in Australia with access to money, health, education and opportunity, are falling behind, getting stereotyped, and not having the courage to stand up? Why is it that now Australia isn’t doing more to flatten the immense curve regarding gender stereotypes and disparity? Why are we still dealing with patriarchy in evolution?
Being of an era in which the right to free speech and access to activism is evolving and increasing, we, the future of Australia, need to start making a change unless we want our lives to remain the same. Do we want to stay silent, or do we want a change, do we want to eliminate and eradicate patriarchy in Australia’s evolving society?