Page 959 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 25 February 2009

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Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Maternity leave

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (11.49): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) acknowledges the benefits of a paid national maternity leave scheme; and

(2) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) fulfil its promise to implement 18 weeks maternity leave for its employees; and

(b) show leadership by calling on the Commonwealth Government to accept the recommendations of the Productivity Commission report regarding maternity leave.

I was prompted to bring this motion to the notice of the Assembly due to the proximity of International Women’s Day 2009 on 8 March. International Women’s Day is a longstanding global recognition of women’s rights and achievements. The International Women’s Day website informs us that annually, on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements.

A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world, ranging from political rallies, business, conferences, government activities and networking events. Australia’s theme for this year is to unite to end violence against women. UNIFEM Australia advises us:

Violence against women is one of the most widespread violations of human rights, as one in three women will suffer some form of violence in her lifetime. Violence against women is an epidemic that devastates lives, fractures communities and stalls development. Despite some progress on this issue over the past decade, its horrendous scale remains mostly unacknowledged, with new dimensions including the global trafficking of women and girls.

This day also draws our attention to what UNIFEM informs us are the other three prominent issues facing women globally. UNIFEM reports:

1. Almost half the HIV-positive people in the world are now women, but in Africa, where the epidemic has stretched the furthest, young women are three times more likely to be HIV-positive than young men, and young women make up over 60% of 15-24-year-olds living with HIV. Gender inequality leaves women with less control than men over their bodies and their lives. They have less information about how to prevent HIV, and fewer resources to take preventative measures. They face barriers to the negotiation of safe sex that

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