Far from achieving the equality promised them a generation ago, women in Australia are still battling for recognition, for equal pay and for promotion in the workplace; for the right to return to work after they have children; and to not suffer discrimination when they are pregnant. Why is there a birth-rate crisis in Australia? Why has it become so hard for women who want to combine being mothers with having jobs? Will the government's 'breeding creed' succeed in steering women away from employment and into full-time motherhood?
In The End of Equality, bestselling author Anne Summers blows these issues wide open, and in a narrative that is at once disquieting and compelling, holds a mirror to the lives of Australian women and offers an unsettling reflection of our country in the 21st century.
Threaded through the narrative are the voices and experiences of Australian women from all ages and backgrounds discussing their livesand their choices. Their words and Summers' insights and conclusions will inflame, inspire and provide an impetus for the long overdue action needed to redress a situation which can no longer go unchallenged.More than 160,000 Australian women are prevented from working because they can't get childcareWomen's total average earnings are just 66% of men's - less than they were ten years agoMothers of young children suffer government-imposed financial penalties for choosing to be in the workforceFully 25% of Australian women today will never have children At least 200 women are sexually assaulted every day in AustraliaLess than 10% of senior executives in Australian companies are womenAs of late 2002 only 8.2% of the directors of Australia's top 200 companies were women
"I think maybe I should be at home with the kids when actually deep down I would like to be at work; I am torn. We were brought up by mothers who were always there and I suppose there is an expectation that when we had kids, that is the way it would be."
- Brisbane woman, 30-40, with children
"Men are worried by equality. Women have become a bit more assertive and have more opportunities and more knowledge and maybe they feel intimidated by that - and physical force is their only power."
- Sydney woman, 40-45, with children
HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Five reasons why the government should establish a Royal Commission on the equality of women in Australia
- A Royal Commission is a well-established mechanism for providing information and advice to government
- The unique powers of a Royal Commission give it independence, authority, credibility and legitimacy
- Political leaders cannot dismiss the findings of a Royal Commission as special pleading or lobbying. These findings stand as evidence, to be treated with seriousness and respect.
- A Royal Commission can make recommendations for its findings to be implemented.
- A Royal Commission would provide a panoramic picture of Australian women's lives today. It would be an invaluable and historic document of our times.
"We don't need somebody who wants to take us back to the fifties and have women at home - we need some balance."
- Brisbane woman, 30-40
"What stresses me is not being able to climb that corporate ladder without banging your head all the way - the boys' club stops it."
- Sydney woman, 27-32, working full-time, no children
Five ways to give women a voice and to create pressure for that Royal Commission
- Write the prime minister a letter (not an email, a letter) describing the parts of your life that could be better if his government was more attuned to women's needs. Ask him to establish a Royal Commission on the equality of women in Australia. Send copies of the letter to the leader of the opposition, the leader of the Australian Democrats and the leader of the Greens.
- Write a letter to the paper to express your views - especially if one of the newspaper columnists is stating opinions that you think are detrimental to women's equality.
- Ring up talkback radio and air your opinion. Don't let the airwaves be dominated by ratbags.
- Boycott companies that are unfair to women.
- Above all, talk about this stuff. Share your thoughts and feelings with your friends, people at work, your family, anyone you come in contact with.
For further information including contact details for women members of the House of Representatives (by state), women senators, parliamentary bodies, advisory bodies and other organisations please refer to chapter 12, The End of Equality by Anne Summers.
The End of Equality by Anne Summers
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