Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 664 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

Women make up nearly half of the world's 35 million adults living with HIV/AIDS, which has reached extreme levels in sub-Sahara Africa where entire communities are infected with the disease and do not have any access to effective protection or treatment. There are very disturbing reports coming out that men in that community believe that the way to cure AIDS is to have sex with a virgin-which, of course, just transmits this disease throughout the population at rampant rates and has a huge impact on the women who live there.

Women make up nearly two-thirds of the world's illiterate people and many homeless women have children that they are responsible for whilst most homeless men do not have that responsibility. Women earn less than 40 per cent of the income of men across the globe and control less than 10 per cent of the world's wealth. I could go on and on but I do think that what I have just said answers the question that feminism is still necessary.

International Women's Day means we have a chance to look at both the global plight of women as well as local issues here in the ACT. I particularly wish to again bring to the attention of this Assembly the report of the Select Committee on the Status of Women in the ACT which took a year to compile. The document provides a way for this government to address women's issues. However, political will and government resources are needed if the recommendations are to be implemented. I know that all 59 recommendations, stretching across areas of health and education to violence against women and broader strategic directions, are being carefully considered by the government.

I would also like members to note that this month of March is in fact Women's History Month, and this presents a chance for all Australian women to learn more about their part in the building of Australia. Women's History Month is about women, the present and the past, and also about the future. Its main aim is to help us appreciate women's contribution to history. The rich historical contribution women make often goes unknown and unacknowledged.

Throughout March there are activities that bring together experts from government and academia, business and the community, to help us explore our history, and most of this information can be accessed on the Women's History Month website. We are told that "Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns that she is worth less".

International Women's Day is a chance for all of us to reflect on the rights and status of women in Canberra and around the globe. However, women suffer inequity every day of the year. I call on members to keep the rights and needs of women in mind throughout the rest of the year-as they know I do because I am quite proud to wear the label of feminist.

Just as women's experience is diverse, so is the feminist experience. To quote again from this book:

There is never one feminist issue that dwarfs all others, there will never be one platform for action that all women agree upon. But that doesn't mean that feminism

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .