Socialist Alliance International Women's Day 2014 statement

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Gender equality: Why aren’t we there yet?

In 21st century Australia we have not achieved gender equality. The wage gap between women and men is increasing, the number of women in poverty is growing, women’s reproductive rights are under attack, violence against women is on the increase, there is no marriage equality for LGBTIQ people and gender discrimination is rife.

Why aren’t we there yet? Why does the conservative right appear to have so much to say in the policies of Liberal and Labor governments alike?

The answer is that in a world where the gap between the wealth of the ruling elite and the rest of us gets bigger by the day, their governments need to rely on backward and bigoted institutions to divide and rule, and to keep us disarmed and distracted from the real causes of the problems we face.

Conservative church leaders and reactionary media barons work together to police and propagate so-called “traditional” gender roles and stereotypes, and to impose on families the role of unpaid social services provider. These institutions systematically promote sexism and violence against women.

Unpaid care in Australia was estimated in 2009-10 to be worth 50.6% of GDP and six times the size of the paid care sector. Women did 66% of unpaid care work, even though the proportion of women in the paid workforce had risen to 65% from 48% in 1992.

The wage gap between women and men is now larger than it was 20 years ago and has risen from about 15% in 2004 to 17.5% last year.

When Liberal and Labor governments are forced to explain why they refuse to allow equal marriage rights they all recite the same reactionary mantra: “Marriage is between a man and woman.”

Governments for the corporate rich have a big stake in maintaining gender inequality because it helps the rich get richer and stay in power.

The Socialist Alliance fights for liberation from corporate rule and so campaigns actively for women’s rights, including:

  • Full wage equality for women.
  • An end to violence against women.
  • Full reproductive rights, including free and universal access to abortion.
  • Immediate legal recognition of full marriage equality.
  • Twenty-four months parental leave fully paid by employer contributions to a publicly-managed scheme.
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