Women’s Health Goulburn North East’s (WHGNE) submission to the Australian Government’s National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality discusses some of the challenges preventing the achievement of gender justice in Australia. It also proposes solutions and envisions what an equitable and just Australia might mean for everyone. Our Vision for gender justice in Australia includes:

  • Creating a society that breaks away from power imbalances and discrimination based on gender, race, age, ability, and other qualities.
  • Building an Australia where the voices, experiences, needs and dreams of the most under-served and marginalized are valued and taken into account.
  • Making amends with First Nations people and committing to supporting a meaningful, Indigenous led voice, establishing treaties, and seeking truth as foundations for our society.
  • Valuing, loving, respecting, caring for and listening to every person as their true selves, without limitations or unfair treatment.
  • Recognising gender and other aspects of identity as sources of uniqueness, and strength that can contribute to a vibrant society through collaboration.
  • Embracing the importance of care in all aspects of society – social, economic, political, and cultural – and acknowledging its value beyond monetary worth.
  • Supporting and celebrating diverse family structures that exist outside traditional norms, allowing love, care, guidance, and support from extended networks.
  • Seeing individuals in workplaces as human beings first, not just as economic units.
  • Supporting those who choose not to work, ensuring they can live healthy and dignified lives without being stigmatized.
  • Fairly distributing resources, opportunities and power throughout society.
  • Working towards the elimination and incomprehensibility of violence against women and people of diverse genders in a gender equal Australia.

A gender equality definition refers to treating individuals of different genders equally, ensuring that all genders have equal rights, opportunities and access to resources. It advocates for the elimination of discrimination and biases based on gender, aiming to create a society where everyone, regardless of their gender, enjoys the same rights and privileges.

While gender equality is an important objective, to truly understand how we might achieve it we must also engage with the concept of gender equity, which recognises how different genders may have different needs, circumstances and disadvantages due to historical, social, and economic factors. It acknowledges that achieving true equality may require addressing underlying inequalities and providing specific support and resources to marginalized or disadvantaged groups.

In addition, gender justice signifies the achievement of both gender equity (equal distribution of resources, access, opportunities, according to need) and gender equality (equal outcomes for all). It is an ambitious and intersectional approach centering the diverse needs, experiences, and aspirations of people most impacted by discrimination and oppression.

We think of gender justice as a ‘shared priority’ of government, business and the community. It must underpin every decision that is made, every action that is taken, and every dollar that is spent.

Government can help achieve gender justice by bringing community members of all genders, intersectional backgrounds and geographic locations into decision-making via processes such as participatory, gender-responsive budgeting and citizens assemblies. 

These citizen-centered processes should enable the government to implement policy that:

  • Provides a universal basic income and suite of universal basic services free to all citizens.
  • Embeds ‘care’ as the central tenant of all government work.
  • Makes paid parental leave more equitable for both parents.
  • Removes mutual obligations from social support payments.
  • Ensures that support for immigrants and refugees is covered in policies.

Businesses can help achieve gender justice by:

  • Implementing paid carers’ leave and workplace flexibility for every employee, regardless of their gender.
  • Introducing menstruation and menopause wellbeing policies, including paid days off and working from home arrangements.
  • Integrating other forms of leave that support holistic wellbeing, such as leave for gender transition, fertility treatment, volunteering, studying, cultural observations and obligations and pet adoption.
  • Combatting racial discrimination through accessible, supportive and accountable racism complaints procedures.
  • Dedicating time and resources to creating a reconciliation action plan and a gender equity plan.

Communities can help achieve gender justice by:

  • Actively and unapologetically challenging stigma and stereotypes in every sphere of life.
  • Practicing solidarity with individuals and communities experiencing intersectional forms of inequity.
  • Guaranteeing equitable access to resources, opportunities, and social connection for all people.
  • Creating, valuing, and sharing inclusive, safe, and accessible public and private spaces, including schools, parks, gardens, and sporting facilities.
  • Building a movement around, and committing to radical love – caring, cooperation, community and connectedness to each other and to our environment – as a cherished and common anchor for a new national culture.