Gender Equality in Australia
Flag of Australia
|Population (in Mil.)||22.32|
|Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - WB)||1,379.38|
|Sex Ratio (m/f)||1|
|Life Expectancy Ratio (f/m)||1.057|
|Income Ratio (f/m)||0.7|
|Literacy Ratio (f/m)||1|
|Tertiary Enrolment Ratio (f/m)||1.23|
|Women in Parliament (in %)||24.7|
|Human Development Index||2/169|
|Social Institutions and Gender Index||- /86|
|Gender Inequality Index||18/138|
|Gender Equity Index||16/157|
|Women’s Economic Opportunity Index||10/113|
|Global Gender Gap Index||23/134|
|More information on variables|
Since the late nineteenth century, Australian women have been pushing for greater gender equality. One of the first countries to give women the vote, Australia has also produced some of the leading feminists, most notably Germaine Greer.
Until 1966, women working in the federal public service had to resign when they married. Women were awarded ‘equal pay for work of equal value’ in 1969, and federal legislation to ban discrimination on the basis of sex (Federal Sex Discrimination Act) was introduced in 1984.
In the past 30 years, key reforms include the introduction of improved childcare facilities and community centres, and government pensions for single mothers. Australia is, however, one of the few countries to not have paid maternity leave.
Australia was one of the first countries in the world to give women the right to vote and to sit in parliament. In 1895, the state of South Australia allowed women the vote, which was later applied nation-wide after federation in 1901. The 1902 Commonwealth Franchise act enabled all women - with the exception of Aboriginal women in some states - to stand for federal parliament and vote in federal elections. Despite this precocious beginning, it was not until 1921 before the first woman (Edith Cowan) was elected to an Australian parliament (in the state of Western Australia). Aboriginal women were not allowed to vote until 1966.
Over the past 30 years women have increased their representation in Australia's parliaments. While there has been a great deal of rhetoric from both sides of politics about the pre-selection of women candidates and issues such as 'quotas', their representation in both federal and state politics is still disproportionately low. Recent leading female politicians include: Carmen Lawrence, Cheryl Kernot, Natasha Scott Despoja, Amanda Vanstone, Joan Kirner and Julia Gillard (currently Deputy Prime Minister).
In the News
- The Sydney Morning Herald 11.10.2010: Attitudes harden towards the lot of a working mother
- The Guardian.co.uk 28.09.2010: Women in boardrooms: the gentle Australian solution
- Federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/sda1984209/
The Women, Business and the Law
Where are laws equal for men and women?
The Women, Business and the Law report presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women's economic status. This report does not seek to judge or rank countries, but to provide information to inform discussions about women’s economic rights. Women, Business and the Law provides data covering 6 areas: accessing institutions,using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court.Read more about the methodology.
For detailed information on Australia, please visit the Women, Business and
the Law Australia page.