Women’s rights still evolving slowly

It is very easy for young, well-educated urban women in Australia to think that we have achieved equal rights both here and overseas.  Consequently one often hears comments like ‘I am not a feminist, but of course I believe in equality’ – and the speaker often genuinely  believes women are equal.

But it is within living memory in Australia that women were forced to leave their jobs immediately upon marriage.  It is also within living memory that women were paid substantially less than men for equivalent work.  And, even today, women in Australia have not achieved wage equity.

Presentations from Justice for Women at Work: A discussion of Paid Parental Leave and Pay Equity are available here.

Women’s childcare responsibilities also create inequities in ability to generate income and superannuation; while divorce and family breakups damage women’s prosperity more significantly than that of men.

At least, for the most part, Australian women live in comfort and something close to equality.

Australian women have many choices, mostly based on our access to education and work.

But equality for women in large parts of the world remains a distant dream – some examples include:

[Source: Global Issues]

There is still much work to be done that builds on the foundations laid by the feminists & suffragettes who fought for – and won – the rights and liberties we enjoy here today. Women should still be proud to be called feminists. It is an honourable label and one that I’m proud to wear.

Some will argue that this is all just about human rights.  But the fact remains that women have less access to basic human rights than men.

The informal slogan of the Decade of Women became “Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production.”

— Richard H. Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), p. 354