After another incredible season for our Thunderbirds, and with Tillies fever rife, women are finally having their moment in sport. But how are things really tracking for women in South Australia, and what’s being done about it? We explain.
South Australia boasts a remarkable history of pioneering gender equality. Our state was the first place in the world where women successfully fought for the right to vote and stand for parliament. It’s produced outstanding leaders – including the first female Prime Minister, the first woman Supreme Court judge and the first First Nations woman to be appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia – as well as some of the world’s best female athletes, scientists, artists and educators.
While we’re making significant strides toward achieving gender equality, there’s more work to be done. Why? These facts do the talking. (Source: Office for Women.)
39 per cent of the women in SA have experienced physical and/or sexual violence.
On average, women spend 2.3 hours more per day than men undertaking unpaid work, such as housework and caring for children and other family members.
Men are 1.5 times more likely to hold managerial positions than women.
For every dollar a man makes, a woman earns only 93 cents.
Women are at a greater risk than men of developing mental illness.
These statistics demand urgent and ongoing action to address the root causes of gender inequality – which is where SA Women’s Equality Blueprint comes in.
What is the Women’s Equality Blueprint?
The Women’s Equality Blueprint outlines 57 key actions and initiatives the State Government is committed to implementing, to advance gender equality across four priority areas:
- Safety and security
- Leadership and participation
- Economic wellbeing
The State Government is committed to making South Australia a fair and inclusive state, in which women and girls can equally and actively participate in the economy and all aspects of community life.
We break down the priority areas, and what’s being done.
Safety and security
“The domino effect of violence, directly and indirectly, affects so many people in South Australia. We cannot have a flourishing, gender equal society if women are unsafe and fearful.”
– Deborah Nikou, Haven Community Partner, Goolwa Haven (Safety Hub)
Women’s safety is essential to achieving gender equality. As well as being a cause and consequence of gender inequality, experiences of violence, harassment and discrimination can have a significant detrimental impact on women’s wellbeing. It can also lead to financial and housing insecurity.
Some of the State Government’s actions in this space include:
- Criminalising coercive control (read more about coercive control here);
- Making electronic monitoring a condition of bail for people charged with certain family and domestic violence offences;
- Prohibiting discrimination against people who are or have experienced domestic violence;
- Ring-fencing a proportion of public housing for women escaping domestic violence;
- Including Mental Health First Aid training and an understanding of family and domestic violence in work health and safety education;
- Reviewing legislation around consent to sexual activity;
- Establishing southern and northern family and domestic violence prevention and recovery hubs;
- Addressing perpetrator behaviours through an extension to the National Partnership on Family, Sexual and Domestic Violence Responses.
Leadership and participation
“Women leaders serve as an inspiration for future generations, breaking down gender stereotypes and empowering girls to pursue their ambitions. We need South Australian women in leadership roles if we are to create a fair and just society where all individuals have equal opportunities.”
– Zainab Kazemi, Winner of the 2023 Emerging Leader Award
In a gender equal society, women and men have the same opportunities to obtain leadership roles and to participate in all aspects of the economy, public and community life. However, women continue to be notably absent from many workplaces and industries.
Increasing women’s representation in leadership requires that businesses and organisations improve the diversity of their decision-making bodies and remove the barriers that hinder women’s involvement.
Some of the actions in this priority area include:
- Introducing an Equality Bill;
- Ensuring all State Government boards comprise at least 50 per cent women;
- Linking funding for sports organisations to improving the diversity of decision-making bodies;
- Establishing a Women in Sport Taskforce to raise the profile and participation levels of girls and women in sport;
- Improving access to pre-school – the SA Government will make 15 hours of pre-school available for every three-year-old in the state, helping more parents return to work;
- Introducing a Bill to establish a Voice to Parliament for First Nations People, to enable First Nations women to have greater say on Parliament’s decision-making to influence better outcomes for First Nations women.
“Economic security is the cornerstone of gender equality. Gender equality is a values proposition, and we won’t achieve gender equality in South Australia until we equally value women’s work in public and private domains.”
– Abbey Kendall, Director and Principal Solicitor, Working Women’s Centre
Another key feature of a gender equal society is that women and men have equal opportunities for workforce participation and economic security. However, women continue to experience lower levels of economic security compared to men due to a range of factors including the gender wage disparity, career breaks for caregiving duties, and professional segregation.
Initiatives directed at enhancing women’s skill sets, as well as understanding and addressing the causes of the gender pay gap and encouraging businesses and organisations to adopt policies aimed at increasing gender equality, hold the potential to increase women’s workforce involvement and improve their long-term economic prosperity.
Actions in this space include:
- Establishing a Women in Business Program tailored to the specific challenges women face when starting, operating and growing businesses;
- Improving access to training for jobs in the care sector through subsidised TAFE training courses in aged care, disability care and early childhood education and care;
- Grants to encourage women into trades;
- Establishing the Housing Security for Older Women Taskforce, to curb the trend of older women being the fastest growing cohort experiencing homelessness in Australia;
- Establishing a Gender Pay Gap Taskforce;
- Measuring the gender pay gap in the public sector.
“South Australian women need and deserve a holistic health care response; this should recognise all elements of their health from the impacts of interpersonal violence to reproductive well-being. Our health care must also respond to the needs of all South Australian women no matter their age, postcode, background or sexuality.”
– Katrina Dee, Director – Youth and Women’s Safety and Wellbeing Division, Women’s and Children’s Health Network
The health of a population is shaped by various social factors including birthplace, living conditions, employment and accessibility to services.
Achieving gender equality involves ensuring men and women have universal access to health services and the necessary support to maintain a healthy life. For women, this includes being able to access support for reproductive health, menopause and menstruation.
Some of the State Government’s actions in the health space include:
- Building a new Women’s and Children’s Hospital, which will be 25 per cent larger than the current one;
- Funding a campaign to increase awareness about cervical cancer screening self-testing among women aged 25-74;
- Finalising regulations to decriminalise termination of pregnancy;
- Extending support for free sanitary products in public schools, by providing an additional $60,000 funding over three years.
The South Australian Government aims to implement the actions outlined in the Women’s Equality Blueprint by 2026, following ongoing consultation and collaboration with other governments, private sector, non-government organisations and the wider community.
The Office for Women’s website will regularly share information on the progress of the actions listed under the Blueprint’s priority areas. The South Australian Government will also provide timely updates on endeavours aimed at enhancing gender equality in the state, as part of the Women’s Statements included annually in the SA State Budget.
If you’d like to know more, download South Australia’s Women’s Equality Blueprint 2023–2026.