While all Australian states are moving towards gender equality, perhaps none have demonstrated a higher level of commitment than Victoria.
It was the last state to give women the vote in 1908, and took until 1923 to let women run for Parliament, the state has embedded gender equity in governmental policy and legislation.
The launch of Safe and Strong: A Victorian Gender Equality Strategy saw a number of ‘nice to haves’ become compulsory across sectors, including transport and infrastructure which is only 20% female and has been since the 90s.
The strategy was born from the Royal Commission into Family Violence which found gender inequality to be a major driver behind family violence.
As part of the strategy, the government committed to:
- Embed gender equality goals in the subject of government purchasing contracts
- Review and adapting budgetary processes in accordance with Gender Responsive Budgeting to “reflect gender differences and gender inequalities in income, assets, decision-making power, service needs and responsibilities for caring.” The strategy cites GRB has been successful on an international scale
- Establish targets that women will make up 50% of all new appointments to courts and paid government boards in Victoria
- Progressively introduce gender auditing in departments to measure performance in five key areas: recruitment and promotion, leadership development and mentoring, flexible working, and organisational culture
- Develop and pilot a gender impact analysis tool to evaluate policy, service delivery and budget development
- Introduce a Sexuality Education Policy, building on the now ingrained Respectful Relationships Education to challenge negative stereotypes
- Explore undertaking gender audits for major transport projects
It’s not the first time government has tried to implement such initiatives. In 1984 the Hawke government pioneered a tool for measuring how policy affects women, and also created the National Agenda for Women to improve the “status of women” which included targets, timeframes and also cited violence as its motivator. These initiatives lapsed in the early 90s.
Has the Victorian strategy fared more successfully? A year one report details some of the biggest achievements:
- 53% of paid public board positions were held by women as of 2018
- Introduced family violence leave for the Victorian Public Sector
- Established a Ministerial Council on Women’s Equality to provide expert advice on the future of gender equality in Victoria
- Introduced Gender Equality Budget Statements starting with inaugural 2017
- Established the Equal Workplaces Advisory Council to advise on strategies to achieve gender pay equality
While we’re making progress in the area, Australia is falling down the rankings in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index. In 2006 we ranked 15th> In 2018 we ranked 36th. We now rank 46th.
Balanced workplaces require the commitment from men, women, government, companies and communities.
Criterion Conference’s Women in Transport & Transport & Infrastructure Leadership Summit, running at Rydges on Swanston Melbourne from 19-22 August 2019, brings together women and male champions of change to disarm the obstacles to career progression and craft a positive legacy as a leader of influence.