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Gender Equality

The AJP recognises and celebrates the substantive contributions and achievements of women and gender-diverse persons. The AJP wants to see a society where all people are affirmed and valued; however, women and gender-diverse persons presently experience systemic discrimination and inequality.

As such, the AJP asserts that:

  • gender equality is a fundamental human right and that the health, safety and wellbeing of women, girls and gender-diverse persons is paramount;
  • reforms are essential to address the causes of gender inequality and to protect people against gender-based violence;
  • women and gender-diverse persons must be supported, encouraged and empowered to be present and/or prominent in all areas of society, including politics;
  • everyone must be supported in informed decision-making with respect to gender and sexual identity;
  • there must be zero tolerance of sexism, misogyny and all types of violence (including gender-based violence) and we must work toward gender equality and respect in all areas of society;
  • we must recognise how sexism intersects with other kinds of oppression and discrimination, such as racism and speciesism;
  • we support the use of gender-inclusive language.

Background

Women in Australia continue to face discrimination, sexist attitudes and inequality, both in their working and private lives. The AJP believes that all women deserve to be safe and treated with respect.

Throughout our society, women’s contributions are under-acknowledged, women are under-represented in key positions and forums, and we still have a long way to go to reach gender equality. In Australia, women are the primary caretakers of children, the elderly and the home; women spend 64% of their weekly work time on unpaid care work, while men spend 36%. Our patriarchal society allows women and girls to be treated in unjust, inequitable, irrational and violent ways. This is a systemic problem. 

Gender equality is impacted by other diversities, including race, culture, sexuality and disability. For First Nations women, women of colour and women in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, gender equity issues are augmented by racial and cultural factors. The binary idea of gender creates issues and barriers for transgender and gender-diverse persons, and in Australia resources are not adequate to support the number of people who seek care and advice for gender issues. All policy development and discussions around outcomes for women and girls must involve trans, non-binary and other gender diverse persons. These groups must be actively consulted and included in collaborative decision-making.

Gender issues are pervasive throughout diverse social areas including gender pay gap, work places, education and job prospects, corporate boards, medical treatment, health outcomes, marketing and advertising, the legal profession, religious institutions, sport, toxic masculinity and at the heart of our communities through family and domestic violence (FDV).

Carol J. Adams explored the patriarchal objectification, fragmentation, and consumption of animals and its ideological links to the violent oppression of women in The Sexual Politics of Meat. She concluded that treating animals as products and normalising their suffering ​​has some parallels to the way society objectifies women. 

This helps explain why women are particularly prevalent in animal advocacy, yet have often been excluded from political life. The AJP is proud that over 70% of our members identify as female and the party is well-placed to empower women in politics and the animal advocacy movement.

Violence, harassment and discrimination

In Australia, sexual violence, including rape, assault, harassment, or coercion, are major health and welfare issues that predominently affect women. Coercive control is a type of domestic violence that usually involves manipulation or intimidation that can leave a victim-survivor feeling isolated, scared or dependent on the abuser.

Sex-based discrimination and harassment occurs at all ages and in diverse environments. Two in five Australian women state they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, which is estimated to cost $2.6 billion in lost productivity and almost $250 million in lost wellbeing. We must ensure women are safe from harassment and discrimination in all environments, including at work.

Australia has a National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (2010-2022); it has not worked. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) one in six women has experienced sexual assault since turning 15 years old. Almost nine out of ten incidents of sexual assault by men against women, are not reported to police by the women. In Australia, on average one woman is killed every 9 days by her partner or ex-partner and 83% of perpetrators of family and domestic violence are male. First Nations women are 34 to 80 times more likely than other women to experience family and domestic violence. Responses must be sensitive to culturally and linguistically diverse groups. The annual cost of violence against women and children was estimated to be $22 billion in 2015-2016 in Australia.

People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, or queer (LGBTIQ) experience significant levels of violence, abuse and harassment, and it is under-reported and often not taken seriously. LGBTIQ people are more likely to experience sexual assault than the general population, and robust national data are required to develop apt responses and support.

Changes championed by AJP MPs have passed through state parliaments in NSW and Victoria to address animals in family and domestic violence. This is significant because 1 in 3 women delay leaving an abusive home if they do not have an exit strategy for the family animal. Also, there is a link between animal abuse and violence towards people, in particular child abuse, elder abuse and domestic violence, and it is an indicator for severe violence like domestic homicide. Prevention and early intervention are critical strategies to tackle gender inequity and violence. We need to investigate the link between different forms of violence. 

Towards Equity

Society is improved when women, girls and gender-diverse persons are supported, included, encouraged and empowered, and when their contribution is recognised. Respectful attitudes towards women and girls support each of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Research from 155 countries across almost 25 years indicates that countries with more female politicians have lower mortality rates in women and children. Consequently, gender equality is one of the United Nations’ 17 goals for a sustainable world: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Research across 91 nations indicates that countries with more female politicians have more stringent climate change policies. Other research demonstrates that female politicians are more likely to support policies that favour the environment, and women's issues are best represented through political systems when women are permitted and encouraged to vote. We need to create strategies to ensure more equitable representation and access in politics, the corporate world and the community.

There are clearly substantial factors leading to gender inequality that have created a gender gap, which negatively affects the health, safety and wellbeing of society. At the current rate of change, it will take another 100 years to close the global gender gap. This is a systemic problem that requires broad-ranging systemic solutions.

We must change our attitudes and actions in relation to sexism, misogyny and gender equality, by creating societies that support and include women, girls and gender-diverse persons so that they can flourish. This will, in turn, support the health, safety and wellbeing of all. The cultural knowledge held by First Nations women should be sought out, acknowledged and included.

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