Today is equal pay day. It is unbelievable that in this day and age; in a country as wealthy and stable as Australia, we need to have a day to highlight the yawning pay gap between women and men.
As a community, we need to address the gender pay gap, and quickly.
According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the current national gender pay gap is 15.3% in favour of men. It goes as high as nearly 30% in the financial sector and almost 22% in the health sector.
The statistics when it comes to the financial situation of women in Australia paints an alarming picture:
• 34% of single women over 60 are living in permanent income poverty (compared to 27% of single men)
• Women retire with a third of the superannuation of men
• One in five Australian mothers have reported that they were made redundant, had their jobs restructured, dismissed or did not have their contracts renewed.
The disparity in pay between women and men has long term, serious impacts on women. It also says something profound about us as a community; that we do not value women as much as men.
One in three Australia women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. We lose one woman each week to family violence. We need to get better at valuing women in our community. This starts with what we are paid.
We teach our girls that they can be anything they want to be: lawyers, doctors, athletes, engineers. However we are also saying that no matter what their career choice, they will never be valued as much as men.
We need to address the gender pay gap now so that generations of girls can grow up knowing that their community values them just as much men.
Michelle Thompson is CEO of Marie Stopes Australia.