We’ve reached out to both First Nations women and to women of colour and we’ve asked them what they think about the day and if they want to be involved. So far, all the women we’ve approached have been very supportive of the day and have chosen to become involved.
Going forward, we’re embedding diversity into the management and operation of the day through the creation of the AWD Trust. The Trust will be advised by an Identity and Industry Council. Both Councils are currently being formed and will consist of women from a broad cross section of Australian life, including First Nations women, women of colour, LGBTIA women, women with disabilities, and women from different economic backgrounds.
By working with the two Councils following the release of The State of Australian Women Report. Each year we’ll be drawing from the data reported upon and work with the two Councils to consider how the communities and industries that the women represent can work in collaboration with one another to both advocate for and generate change for the women of Australia.
This structure that we’re building is what sets AWD apart from many other national days. It provides a clear pathway for taking what was ignited and discussed on the day and provides the framework for transforming that into concrete change.
AWD will be focused on bringing women together and creating the platform and pathways for change to be created collaboratively. Too often we work in isolation or in silos. AWD will break down that approach and propose a whole new model for achieving social change.
We’ve not interested in creating a veneer of transformation. We want long term, sustainable change. We know that connection, community and recognition is the first thing we need to establish which is why a day of celebration is the starting point for the broader intention for AWD.
There are four pillars to Australian Women’s Day: sharing women’s stories, live events, giving back, and reporting on The State of Australian Women. To deliver on each of these elements and to make this day a genuine catalyst for social change in Australia, we need to generate funds.
We’re currently running entirely off volunteer labour which isn’t sustainable. A number of women have had to pull out from organising the day because of family and work commitments and we feel that it goes against everything the day stands for - including the economic empowerment of women - to continue to ask women to work for free.
Before going to government or corporations for funding, we wanted to see if the women of Australia could come together and fund this day ourselves. That’s why we launched a Gofundme campaign. To put the power in our hands and create this day as we, the women of Australia wish it to be.
Because this is for us; Australian women. It’s not about the global sisterhood. It’s about celebrating our unique contribution to this country and to the world as Australian women.
In 1901 some people came together as a nation to decide what it meant to be Australian. Many were left out of that conversation. As women, we were left out of that conversation and we’ve been fighting to participate in public discourse ever since.
We’re tired of asking for permission to be at the table. We think it’s time for Australian women to turn toward each other and ask what we can do together, as a nation of women, to create social change.
We’re also tired of seeing our nation seek connection and wisdom overseas. We’re tired of Australians assuming that all the really important ideas or job opportunities, and/or the best entertainment comes from somewhere else (particularly the USA). We’ve been looking to the old world and then to America since the British arrived on our shores. We’ve been looking a hemisphere away to understand ourselves.
Let’s stop that. Let’s stop looking for global validation and focus on deepening our understanding of Australian identity. There’s deep and abiding wisdom within this nation. We are home to the oldest continuous living culture in the world; the Indigenous nations of Australia. Let’s shake off our colonial shackles and find out what we can really become when we first turn toward each other and recognise the deep worth here on our shores. Then, knowing who we are, what we stand for, and the nation we want to build into the future, let’s turn back to the rest of the world and show them what we’ve got.
Consider it this way; when you’ve been written out of history books, and you don’t receive equal pay for equal work, when you’re not adequately represented in Parliament, or journalism, in movies, on gallery walls, in sport, or on the boards of the ASX 200, then it’s useful to have a day that’s just about you.
We’re not trained to see this, we’re trained to believe this is ‘just the way the world is’ but when you look closely at who is being featured, who is presuming to speak on behalf of humanity, whose stories are being told, whose achievements are being celebrated, and whose priorities are being funded, you’ll notice that we live in a country that favours white Australian men above all else.
And while white Australian men do and say plenty of things worth celebrating and featuring, so does the rest of the population and this day is one way of redressing the imbalance. It gives women a platform to share their stories and be celebrated. It gives girls the chance to realise that they too can dream big and expect to have their achievements celebrated by the Australian public just as much as the boys in their lives can.
Australia Day is important for sure. But given it’s celebrated on day that Captain Phillip raised the British flag for the first time in Sydney Cove, and given that this marked the beginning of an horrifically violent period in Australian history where Indigenous people’s lands, culture and children were stolen from them, Australia Day is pretty contentious.
If you choose to put that to one side, you’ll note that Australia Day is a day for all genders and the whole point of AWD is to raise the profile of women and girls.
It’s important to remember that AWD isn’t a day for rejecting men. It’s simply a day for Australian women and girls to say, ‘We are important. We are worthy of celebration. We matter. We want to highlight our contribution.’
So we’re coming together as women. To celebrate each other. Men can join us of course. In fact, men are welcome to join us. We want men to celebrate us. We’re not excluding men from participation. We’re simply not putting them at the centre of the celebrations.
Oh my friend, if only that were true. Let’s take a moment with the data.
Oh sister, if only that were true. Let’s look at the data. Women and girls make up just over half of the Australian population and yet:
- The average weekly full time wage for a woman is 15.3% less than a man’s (when he earns $1, she earns 85c)*
- Our superannuation balances at the average age of retirement is just over half of what a man’s is (and we live longer so the money needs to stretch further)*
- 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15*
- 1 in 2 women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace*
- Women are on the boards of just 26% of ASX 200 companies*
- Women spend almost twice as many hours of unpaid work each day as men*
- Women account for 70% of primary unpaid carers for children*
- 1 in 2 mothers report experiencing discrimination in the workplace as a result of their pregnancy, parental leave, or on return to work*
- Women feature in only 7% of sports programming in Australia**
- Despite the fact that women in the media now outnumber men, 70% of bylines published are written by men***
- In 97 years only 10 women have won the Archibald Prize (Australia’s Premier Portrait Prize).
*Figures drawn from Face the Facts: Gender Equality 2018, by the Australian Human Rights Commission
To highlight and celebrate difference is not divisive. To exclude or judge on the basis of that difference is. Here at Australian Women's Day we're celebrating women and girls. Men and boys are very welcome to join in the celebrations!
The day was chosen to appear within the Australian football calendar and Spring Racing Carnival. Why? Because domestic violence increases by approximately 40% during major sporting events.
We need to come together and support each other at such a time. Women are being murdered in this country due to domestic violence at a rate of approximately 2 women a week. We can’t allow that any longer. That’s why we must take up space in the national calendar at this time. At a time when men are being publicly celebrated through sport and women are being beaten behind closed doors. If you feel passionately about taking action to reduce domestic violence, please sign our petition here.