Why I’m standing with Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins, Christine Holgate and more in demanding safety, equity and respect for women

safety-equity-respect

Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins at the National Press Club. Source: AAP/Lukas Coch.

Last year was different. It wasn’t the first year that women in Australia were harassed or unsafe or ignored or disrespected. It wasn’t even the first year that women spoke up about these things. But in 2021, more Australians started to listen, and the more people listened, the more familiar the story became.

One in five women in Australia will be sexually assaulted or raped in her lifetime. Two in five women have faced sexual harassment in the workplace in the last five years. If you’re a First Nations woman, a woman of colour, have a disability or identify as LGBTIQ+, those statistics are far worse.

These are not statistics we can accept. We can — and must — change them and it starts now.

The year 2021 exposed the extent to which the safety, respect and equity of women in Australia is denied and compromised. Individually and collectively. Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins, Chanel Contos, Julia Banks and Christine Holgate each captured the public’s attention and fixed the national spotlight on the ways in which women and children remain unsafe and disrespected in Australia — in homes, in schools, in workplaces, in Parliament House, in public spaces.

These women do not represent all women. Today, none of these women can be described as anything other than enormously privileged. And yet even with their relative power and privilege they were not afforded safety, respect nor equity.

And while each of their experiences were different, they were also somewhat universal. The #March4Justice rallies were born from the collective frustration and anger from women right around the country seeing these women speak up and saying ‘That’s my story too’.

Ahead of International Women’s Day 2022 a video featuring Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins, Larissa Behrendt, Madison de Rozario, Yasmin Poole, Julia Banks, Christine Holgate, Lucy Turnbull, Wendy McCarthy and Michele O’Neil has been issued with an invitation to all Australians. It’s this: join us in demanding a future in which all women and children enjoy safety, respect and equity.

Over the years there have been countless reviews, inquiries, promises, conferences and bodies established to assess and report on the inequity and injustice women face, but there has been no meaningful change.

Enough is enough. We are tired of empty promises. Every woman in Australia deserves access to a safe place to work, to live and to learn, fair and equal pay, quality free early learning and care, and a justice system that works for survivors.

Women in Australia aren’t unsafe because they are inherently risky or innately dangerous. Women are not safe because they are not equal. And some women are far less equal than others. No women will be safe until all women are safe.

Women will not accidentally become more safe or more equal. Structural problems require structural solutions, and structural solutions require leadership. So much of the hard work has been done. We have the answers: we urgently need leadership to implement them.

It means:

  • Preventing sexual harassment and bullying. (Implement all 55 recommendations in the Respect@Work report, including a positive duty on employers);
  • 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave;
  • Acting on the National Plan for First Nations Women and Girls (Support and fund the seven recommendations in the 2020 Wiyi Yani U Thangani Report);
  • Ensuring effective employment programs for women with disability;
  • Stronger, consistent child sexual assault laws;
  • Eliminating the gender pay gap including necessary legal reform;
  • Free, accessible and quality early childhood education and care;
  • Expanding paid parental leave; and
  • Embedding respectful relationships and consent education everywhere including schools, universities, workplaces and homes.

With deliberate and intentional leadership Australia can become a nation in which all women are free to live, work and learn safely and reach their full potential. Want to join the call for #SafetyRespectEquity?

This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.

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Ray Hancock
Ray Hancock
2 months ago

I am sorry but I am going to introduce a negative. How come Brittany Higgins is allowed this style of publicity when there is a Court Case involving the whole basis of her “new reputation” still needing to be properly judged. I have no facts as to how that case will travel but there appears to be a bias being introduced against one of the parties. I have a beautiful wife and daughter and I back (and have backed) them to the hilt to be their own people and equals with me and the world. They agree with me that Brittany shouldn’t be anywhere other than out of the public eye until the case has been decided. In discussing this my two Ladies they also said together “why are they all snarling”. Ladies your lives are better than that and the natural reaction of many is to reject the argument you are promoting – unless they are snarlers like yourselves. Sorry I support what you want to achieve (if it is not already there already) but not in the way you are trying to achieve it (and my Ladies agree). Ray Hancock 0411 722 540

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