“We’ve had enough.”
That is the message of hundreds of women and supporters of gender equality and violence prevention from across north-east Victoria and the Goulburn Valley who will march in Wangaratta on March 15 protesting violence against women, and the sexism and gender inequality that drive this violence.
Organised by Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE), the local Women’s March for Justice is just one of dozens of such marches across the nation, all of them ignited by recent allegations of rape and sexual harassment in Federal Parliament.
WHGNE chief executive Amanda Kelly said while her organisation was incensed to see the way such allegations were being handled by the Federal Government, this reflected a broader national culture of discrimination against women and silencing, discrediting and disregarding their voices and experience.
“What we’re seeing in parliament right now is enraging and saddening, particularly considering it is the highest profile workplace in the country and the seat of our democracy, so it should be the exemplar when it comes to safety for women, the prevention of violence against women, gender equity and inclusion,” Ms Kelly said.
“Instead, it seems that our government is doing everything it can to avoid being accountable for what is happening, and it’s avoiding implementing significant cultural change to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“But this is not just about what has happened in Federal Parliament over recent weeks. This is about how women are treated every single day, in every community in Australia.
“This is about the fact that a culture of disrespect towards women has taken hold of this country. We see this reflected in the way women are spoken about, silenced or talked over or excluded in meetings, in the way outdated gender stereotypes still govern the way we think about what women can or can’t do, or what they are or aren’t worthy of.
“We see it in the way that male peer relationships in Australia rely on men showing their masculinity by being disrespectful to women. It has to stop.”
The national series of marches seeks to push for three tangible actions to ensure safety and justice for women in the political arena – an independent review of politicians and staffers exploring experiences of sexual harassment and gender-based violence in parliaments; immediate Gender Equality Audits of all parliaments across Australia and support to enhance the online safety for women in politics.
However, Ms Kelly said the march was an opportunity for women, men and gender-diverse people of all life stages from across the region to come together to take a stand against violence against women, and to call for safety and justice for women in all walks of life.
“We want to see women’s safety and gender equality guaranteed in every workplace, every organisation and committee, every sporting team, every home,” Ms Kelly said.
The march will start at King George Gardens and end at Riverside Square, Wangaratta. To keep things COVID-safe marchers are required to register in advance, wear a face mask during the march and bring their own hand sanitiser.
“Wear black, bring your loudest voice, something to make noise with, your phone so that you can share photos and video,” Ms Kelly said.
“Let’s add our loudest voices to the strong voices of women across the nation and put an end to this toxic culture of violence and disrespect towards women.”
For more information visit www.whealth.com.au/womens-march-for-justice