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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 February 2010) . . Page.. 653 ..


(b) undertake a pay equity audit of the public service and table the audit report in the Assembly within 12 months; and

(c) provide an annual statement to the Assembly on the Australian Capital Territory’s progress in improving women’s economic and financial independence which includes an analysis of improvements in the pay equity status of women within the ACT Public Service.

I bring this motion to the Assembly today as International Women’s Day will be celebrated in approximately 10 days, on 8 March. In fact, in some countries such as China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday. International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. This year’s theme is “equal rights, equal opportunities: progress for all”. This theme highlights the continued gender inequality experienced by women within many aspects of society, particularly regarding pay equity.

Women in Australia, as in other countries, have had to battle institutional and social barriers as they struggled for equality of opportunity. Australian women faced setbacks as well as tremendous victories along the road to equality. Fortunately, Australia was one of the first countries in the world to give women the right to vote and to sit in parliament. That was, of course, in 1895 in South Australia and 1902 federally. Yet the nation’s first female federal cabinet-level minister was not appointed until 1949. Until 1966, women working in the federal public service had to resign when they married.

The 1970s and 1980s were decades of immense social change, particularly for women. This period saw the emergence of politically focused women campaigning in an organised way for equal pay, equal opportunity and education in the workplace, safe contraception, planned parenthood and adequate childcare facilities.

Since then, much has been achieved and women have won greater equality, freedom and choice. Women were awarded “equal pay for work of equal value” in 1969, and federal legislation to ban discrimination on the basis of sex was introduced in 1984. Australia has also, for more than 26 years, been a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and much work has been done to reform the federal Sex Discrimination Act and the ACT Discrimination Act. Much has changed in the Australian community over that time.

However, Madam Deputy Speaker, if you scratch the surface you will see that many of the same problems that women experienced 40 years ago still remain today. Women in our community still face many difficulties and prejudices because of their gender. Gender stereotyping and discrimination are a pervasive problem which is entrenched in our society, and we still tolerate the ridiculous situation of pay inequity between males and females.

I draw the Assembly’s attention to a recent article written by journalist Virginia Haussegger in the Canberra Times last Saturday. She reported on what she observed while attending an ANU Student’s Association and Women’s Department


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