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Gender equality in Australia is on the decline. Here’s what could fix it


5 March 2020 at 8:22 am
Maggie Coggan
Australia has fallen from a rank of 15th to 44th on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index in the last 14 years


Maggie Coggan | 5 March 2020 at 8:22 am


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Gender equality in Australia is on the decline. Here’s what could fix it
5 March 2020 at 8:22 am

Australia has fallen from a rank of 15th to 44th on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index in the last 14 years

With gender equality in Australia on a dramatic decline, a progressive think tank says national targets and regular reporting on the issue is needed to avoid slipping further down the global index.

The new Per Capita research, launched on Wednesday ahead of International Women’s Day, found that while there were a number of factors contributing to inequality which were being addressed by NFP and government organisations, the absence of an independent tool to regularly measure progress towards gender equality would only see the gender gap widen. 

Australia is one of few developed nations that hasn’t actively set national targets for gender equality or to measure progress towards the goals, and the report said that as a result, Australia is now falling behind. 

“Over the last 14 years, Australia has fallen from a rank of 15th to 44th on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index,” the report said. 

Tanja Kovac, co-author of the report, said that regular, transparent reports on performance against an agreed set of indicators are critical if we are to achieve the goal of gender equality. 

“Without accountability, closing the gender gap in Australia and across the globe will remain merely an aspirational goal, rather than an achievable target,” Kovac said. 

The report tracks the life cycle of Australian women from early childhood, through education, employment, unpaid work, parenting and care, to retirement and old age, identifying the points at which women fall behind men in terms of their social and economic power.

For the first time, the report brings together all the factors contributing to the gender equality gap. This includes investigating the impact of violence on women’s security and wellbeing, the unequal treatment women receive in the health system, the way women are represented in society, and how they fare in leadership roles.

Per Capita’s executive director Emma Dawson told Pro Bono News that they were now calling for a national commitment to regularly measure targets. 

She urged NFP organisations who work on the ground to address the root causes of inequality to come forward to work with them on the issue.     

“The NFP sector, who are so deeply involved and knowledgeable in fighting for equality and women, will be invaluable in informing the national framework we hope to see developed,” she said.

“We would like to see an alliance of knowledgeable community organisations formed so we can all fight this together.”      

See a full copy of the report here. 


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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