Men can get away with putting gender equity at the top of the strategic priority list but women hate being singled out, especially by other women.
Women are under-represented in the corridors of power: the executive suites of multinationals, Parliament house, not for profit sector, public sector agencies, tertiary institutions – the list is depressingly long.
This means women’s interests are not and will not be at the forefront of decision making. Nor will many women be able to contribute to that decision making.
But women (and men) are used to the status quo. We are used to decisions made and policy developed by only a narrow slice of our demographic pool. We’re used to the blokes being in charge and many don’t recognise it as a threat to our collective wellbeing. We have entrusted our leaders (men) to look after our interests and frankly, given the state of the planet, it’s a hopeless strategy.
Today our PM wants to put gender on the priority list. A reasonable objective, given the status quo but the resistance will be (and is) enormous and it’s certainly not going to be palatable if it’s just an agenda item.
Too many women interpret initiatives that might change the status quo as criticism of their capacity to make it on their own. ‘We don’t need your help!’ is the typical refrain from women who mistake initiatives about balancing the decision making pool as initiatives to address their ‘inadequacy’.
When corporate executives champion gender equity and programs like 50/50 – it is because they are driven by profit and share price – not because they’ve got a heightened social conscience. Indeed, one of the critical reasons for gender to be part of the debate at all is that profit driven companies recognise that women buy stuff – lots of it.
Gender equity is a critical issue. Political priorities and agendas should ensure that:
* we have balanced policy written to protect the interests of all Australians;
* conversations about our economic prosperity are indeed about the economic prosperity of all Australians;
* women’s access to health, education and money is not of secondary importance;
* women contribute to determining our priorities and have a say about our future and planet.
Claiming that Australians should vote for one party because the interests of women will not be considered or included by the other party is legitimate – but the context must be made.
A program, initiative or policy that is ‘about women’ will always be resisted – mostly, in my experience, by other women.
Initiatives that ensure programs and policies include the perspectives and interests of women, and are about our collective economic and social prosperity are much more likely to gain support… but of course, for that to occur, we need to change the status quo.