Happy International Women’s Day

This Sunday is International Women’s Day.

It’s a time to celebrate the achievements of women throughout the world and throughout our history, from women's suffrage to reproductive rights.

But while there is much to celebrate, there is still so much more to do.

We must continue to fight for equal pay.

Australian women are earning less today than they ever have before, when compared with their male colleagues.

We must also fight to improve the representation of women on boards, in leadership roles and in Parliament.

Research shows that improving diversity has a positive impact on the performance – and bottom line – of an organisation.

I’ve witnessed this first hand through the boards I have been on, both commercial and
not-for-profit.

We must also continue to fight to end violence against women.

Violence against women in Australia is a deep-rooted cultural problem – and it is shocking.

One in three women in Australia has experienced physical violence.

Almost one in five has been subjected to sexual assault.

I also want to ensure that women have the financial literacy to plan for a comfortable retirement, because a man is not a financial plan.

I’m worried that too many women have not planned for their future beyond work, and I’ve met many women who face a bleak retirement who are on low incomes, renting in the private market, with little superannuation.

And we must continue to fight for gender equality and women’s empowerment for women and girls around the world.

During a visit to Afghanistan with the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Defence Sub Committee, I learnt that in Oruzgan, female literacy is just 0.8 per cent and infant mortality is 37 per cent.

Many girls are married at 13 and many women have between 10 and 15 children.

As Afghanistan transitions, women need to be around the table, not on the menu.

So as we celebrate International Women’s Day this Sunday, we can be proud of what we have achieved over the past 100 years.

But we also need to acknowledge that these achievements have barely touched many women in developing countries.

We still need to fight to ensure equal rights and equal opportunities are shared by everyone of our sisters, everywhere. 

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