IWD 2024

This year’s IWD theme of Count Her In holds 2 very important messages: Invest in Women and Accelerate Progress.

So when we consider investing in women, we are looking at women’s economic empowerment as central to creating a gender equal world. And across her lifespan one of the greatest challenges to a woman’s economic security is childbearing.

Research shows that more often than not women become the primary carers for children, which significantly reduces their participation in paid work by about 35% for the first 5 years, and that gap can remain high for a decade after the arrival of children. In contrast, men’s hours of paid work typically drop only during the first month.

As a result of spending less time in paid work across her lifetime, mothers suffer diminished career opportunities, reduced overall lifetime earnings and impoverished superannuation balances upon retirement. This is the motherhood penalty.

So to support women’s economic empowerment we need to normalise shared care, support parents returning to work, create flexibility in all workplaces and at all levels, and provide universal access to quality childcare. There are benefits for everyone in doing this. Increasing women’s workforce participation has significant economic value. Beyond this, it’s about allowing men, women – people of all genders – to choose the life they want to live, that best suits their individual and family needs, rather than being limited by outdated gender stereotypes and work structures.

And in terms of accelerating progress let’s consider that in 2022 UN Women advised that at the current rate of progress, it will take close to 300 years to achieve FULL gender equality across the globe. We’re not talking decades, but centuries. And this assumes progress is continuous, linear and guaranteed – which it definitely is not.

So as we mark yet another IWD – let’s make this THE year to take THAT leap forward. Let’s stop waiting for change to happen and instead, let’s each of us take action now. Gender inequality is reinforced through social norms, so let’s challenge the status quo at every opportunity. You can start by identifying and challenging your own biases, speaking up when someone is being treated unfairly, and being supportive of different ways of doing things eg stay at home dads, flexibility in senior roles.

If we all did just one thing every day, social norms would shift, and we would accelerate progress towards gender equality. So I hope you’ll stand with me and do that one thing every day, starting today. hashtag#onethingeveryday hashtag#iwd2024 hashtag#genderequity