In a new interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick has taken aim at the gender pay gap still in place within the Australian workplace. According to the outgoing head, the nearly twenty per cent gap is “totally unacceptable”.

All over the world, women routinely earn less than their male counterparts. Despite the perception that it is not the case in Australia, Ms. Broderick says the issue is as relevant as ever. “I haven’t seen much progress on pay equality. That in 2015, women earn 18.8 per cent less for work that is equal or comparable level to men is totally unacceptable,” she told the SMH. “It’s an area we need some greater focus … the fact is the government plays a role in this, but business can also step up too.”

Ms. Broderick also advocates for a more balanced social change to address the problem, one that would see men stepping up to the domestic plate, so to speak. “I’ve always said that if there was one thing I could achieve as Sex Discrimination Commissioner, it would be better sharing of paid and unpaid work between men and women … it is critical to advancing gender equality in Australia,” she explained. “To rely solely on women to create change is illogical. Women don’t hold the levers of power in society, so we need men to step up beside us and I’m seeing some breakthrough.”

Another major issue affecting the commissioner is the prevalence of domestic violence and its harmful impact on women across the nation. “That two Australian women are murdered by their partner or someone they know well every week is beyond belief. You don’t just need to look at Pakistan, Afghanistan and the PNG for violence against women. It’s happening in our own backyard.”

If the nation’s female workforce are subjected to a nearly twenty per cent pay cut for no reason at all, then it’s a cruel reminder that our system is far from fair.


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