vic_logo

Safe and strong: A Victorian Gender Equality Strategy

Preventing violence against women through gender equality

Download the PDF

You can download the gender equality strategy PDF here or read the full text below.

Foreword: The time for change is now

The Royal Commission into Family Violence uncovered our secrets. It revealed our countless failures. And it made clear an uncomfortable truth: family violence is a gendered crime, full stop. The majority of victims - 75 per cent - are women.

If we are serious about ending violence against women, then we must begin by addressing gender inequality. After all, bad outcomes for women, begin with bad attitudes towards women.

But gender inequality isn't just happening in our homes. It's happening in our workplaces, in our school yards, on our television screens and on our sporting fields.

As a state, we must stand together and commit ourselves to a better future.

For our daughters, for our sons - it's time to make a change.

Gender inequality means Victoria is losing out. By limiting the potential of women, gender inequality acts as a drain on the Victorian economy. We need to address the barriers that act as disincentives to the full participation of women in our economy and community.

The Victorian Government recognises that gender inequality is even more of a problem when it intersects with other forms of inequality and disadvantage, such as Aboriginality, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, rurality and socio-economic status. There is no one size fits all approach to addressing it.

And we can see that men are suffering from gender inequality too: from poor mental health, and increased rates of risky and violent behaviour, to fewer opportunities for taking on caring roles and flexible work arrangements.

The Hon Daniel Andrews MP, Premier

Safe and Strong is Victoria's first Gender Equality Strategy. It aligns with other equality strategies and will serve as a gateway to pursuing equality in all its forms.

We are under no illusions. Creating a gender equal state will take time and there is evidence that the status of women in Australia is falling. In 2016, Australia's ranking on the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index dropped to 46 down from 36 in 2015. But we believe by working together we will achieve generational change.

Victoria has done it before, leading the nation with a sustained and determined focus on road safety through the Transport Accident Commission and the promotion of healthy lifestyles through the ongoing efforts of VicHealth.

We do not have all the levers to make the changes we want. We will need to partner with the Commonwealth, Local Government, the private and community sectors, media, sporting and volunteer groups.

Every one of us has a role to play so we ask that you step up too. Are you championing gender equality? Is your organisation perpetuating inequalities or eliminating them? What can you do to make a difference, and how can you make a start?

This Strategy is designed to assist Victorians to find the answer to these vital questions together, and it will be followed in 2017 by a more detailed action plan to guide Victoria's progress towards gender equality.

The Hon Fiona Richardson MP, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence


The strategy

Our vision

All Victorians live in a safe and equal society, have access to equal power, resources and opportunities, and are treated with dignity, respect and fairness.

All Victorians recognise that gender equality is essential to economic prosperity and that gender inequality has significant economic cost.

Victoria leads the way in gender equality with sustained, enduring and measurable action.

Safe and Strong, Victoria's Gender Equality Strategy, sets out a framework for enduring and sustained action over time.

We aim to progressively build the attitudinal and behavioural change required to reduce violence against women and deliver gender equality.

The Strategy draws on global evidence of what works in gender equality.

The Strategy sets out the founding reforms that lay the groundwork and set a new standard for action by the Victorian Government. These reforms will draw on all levers, including legislative changes, governance structures, employment practices, budget, policy, procurement, funding decisions and advocacy to the Commonwealth Government.

The Strategy also considers six settings for statewide action in which strategic alliances and partnerships will enable shared progress towards gender equality. A series of early actions will drive change in schools, workplaces, community groups, sporting associations and the media.

The framework describes how we will measure and track our progress. We will consistently review our actions, report publicly on our progress and make changes if we aren't reaching the goals we set out to achieve.

For our vision to be realised, it will take successive generations of Victorians and their governments to maintain focus, funding and effort on gender equality. This document provides the foundation for immediate action and a guide for future effort.

What we heard

Safe and Strong has been informed by the diverse voices and experiences of more than 1,200 Victorians who spoke to us at forums held across the state.

More than 200 written submissions were received canvassing priorities and strategies, best practice research and experiences of diversity and disadvantage.

In addition to metropolitan consultations, eight regional consultations were held in Geelong, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Mildura, Ararat, Warrnambool, Sale and Bendigo.

Consultations were also held with specific groups and communities, including Aboriginal Victorians, people with a disability, seniors, young people, culturally diverse communities and LGBTI Victorians.

Further consultations were held with the corporate sector, women in leadership, women in small business, innovation and STEM, the legal sector, sporting associations, philanthropic organisations and the media, arts and entertainment industries.

Victorians across the state told us of their support for a bold strategy that would drive genuine, lasting change across all life-stages and settings.

Strong discussion points included the importance of leadership by the Victorian Government, promoting genuine engagement with boys and men, drawing on strategic partnerships, the power of the media, the rate of violence against women and addressing unconscious bias.

There was broad agreement that early childhood education and schools have an important role to play in breaking down poor attitudes and behaviours towards women and girls.

Participants also called for a strong focus on leadership, workforce participation and financial security to empower women across all stages of their lives.

Consultation with Aboriginal Victorians emphasised the connection between gender inequality and dispossession; the intergenerational consequences of a lost connection to land; and the importance of recognition and respect for culture and healing for Aboriginal people. Practices of forced removal of children from their families by successive governments were explored and the connection between racism, sexism and colonialism exposed. Consultations also brought out the need to support and promote Aboriginal self-determination.

What I want for gender equality is…

'Equal opportunities for all women, regardless of background, religion, cultural or sexual identity, disability or rurality.'

'More opportunities for young Indigenous women to support themselves financially and preserve their cultural traditions.'

'To turn on my TV and see healthy body images and women portrayed as whole people, not sexual objects.'

'My niece to automatically pick science and mathematics as a pathway that she can do.'

'For mums and dads to have an equal opportunity to work and care for children.'

'That older women don't end up in homelessness due to less opportunities over their lifetimes.'


Gender inequality across the life cycle

Children

  • Gender stereotypes and norms start shaping children's sense of self and impact on young lives immediately.
  • On average, girls receive 11 per cent less pocket money than boys.
  • Children quickly define jobs and activities as specific to boys or girls.
  • Boys receive 8 times more attention in the classroom than girls.

Young people

  • Behaviours, study choices, ambitions and views about relationships are all affected by gender norms.
  • Young girls are less likely to participate in organised sport.
  • Girls are more likely to opt out of intensive maths subjects in the final years of school.
  • 1 in 3 Australian women over 15 has experienced physical violence.

Adults

  • More women than men graduate from higher learning but receive a lower than average graduate salary.
  • Victorian women now earn 87.6 cents to every dollar earned by men.
  • 1 in every 2 mothers experience discrimination during pregnancy, on parental leave or when returning to work.
  • Victorian women also undertake nearly twice as much unpaid work as men.

Older people

  • The cumulative effects of the gender pay gap and fewer employment opportunities mean that women retire with just half the superannuation savings of men.
  • This impacts on women's financial security, health and wellbeing, with more older women at risk of homelessness.

Gender inequality does not impact on all people in the same way

For many, the impact of gender inequality is compounded by the way that gendered barriers interact with other forms of disadvantage and discrimination.

A sophisticated gender equality strategy must recognise and respond to the needs of all Victorians.

  • Aboriginal women are almost ten times more likely to die from assault than other women. As First Peoples, Aboriginal Victorians are best placed to address these issues to determine a culturally appropriate path to gender equality.
  • Women from culturally diverse communities face additional barriers to education and employment as a result of language barriers; racism and discrimination; lack of culturally responsive services; lack of access to information about their rights, the legal system and the support systems available in their languages; separation from family and other support networks; and insecure visa status. In particular, migrant and refugee women are overrepresented in insecure and low paid work.
  • In rural and regional Victoria, female leaders are innovative in capitalising on community and social connectivity to improve outcomes for women and girls. With limited telecommunications and lack of connection to public services, rural and regional women are at risk of poorer health outcomes and have greater vulnerability to family violence.
  • Women with disabilities are more likely to experience family violence and sexual assault, are less likely to be in paid employment and are paid comparatively less than men with a disability or women without disabilities.
  • Trans and gender diverse people may feel forced to hide their gender identity when accessing services, when in the workplace and in social settings. They are more likely to experience mental illness, verbal abuse and physical abuse, as well as cyberbullying and social exclusion.

Gender inequality affects men too

Gender inequality results in poorer outcomes for men

Traditional stereotypes are often just as difficult for men to live up to.

There are enormous pressures to be a 'real man', to demonstrate physical and emotional strength, and to provide financially as the family 'breadwinner'.

Trying to live up to this ideal can lead to feelings of inadequacy. Yet the pressure to remain emotionally resilient often prevents men from seeking help.

Men are more likely to consume alcohol excessively, more likely to engage in violent and risky behaviours, and less likely to admit pain, seek medical advice or have a strong social network from which to draw support.

Among young Australians aged 12 to 24 years there are three male deaths to every female death, with accidents and suicide accounting for most of this difference. In 2015 around 76 per cent of completed suicides were by men.

What works: 'Daddy Leave'

Norway, Sweden and Iceland have implemented what's referred to as a daddy quota, where part of parental leave is reserved for fathers. In Norway, the quota now totals 14 weeks. Mothers also have a 14-week quota, and the rest of the time-18 weeks on full salary or 28 weeks on 80 percent salary-can be split as parents choose.

Daddy Leave has had significant gender equality benefits. Norway's gender wage gap fell from a substantial 20 per cent in 1991 (2 years prior to the policy being introduced), to 8 per cent in 2010. In 2008, 97 per cent of eligible fathers took parental leave.

Gender discrimination cuts both ways

Men may face discrimination or disapproval when taking on career paths, caring responsibilities and activities traditionally reserved for women.

For example, men account for only 5 per cent of the early childhood education and care workforce and are radically under-represented in the maternal child and health workforce. This creates challenges for men seeking out careers in these industries.

While many men want to take more equal responsibility in caring for children, workplace practices often prevent or discourage them from taking extended parental leave or from working flexibly.

Men who have better access to flexible work are more productive in their jobs, report higher work performance, cope better with higher workloads, have fewer absences and have lower levels of personal stress and burnout.

Too often, gender equity is seen as a women's issue, a feminist issue. I find this just as nonsensical as racism being an issue just for Indigenous Australians or our more recent immigrants. Just as racism devalues and degrades us all, so does gender inequity.'

Source: Prof Doug Hilton, Director, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Victorian Male Champions of Change

'It's time for the men, who by and large hold the positions of power in our community, to step up beside women to advance gender equality. Change needs everyone           and will benefit us all.'

Source: Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Convenor, Victorian Male Champions of Change

'We are all responsible for making gender equity a reality in our workplaces and this change needs to be led from the top. Real change becomes possible when we have open and challenging conversations about gender equity. Real and positive change-disruptive change-also needs to start with a 'yes'.'

Source: Adam Fennessy, Secretary, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victorian Male Champions of Change


The case for change

Gender equality prevents violence against women and girls

Gender equality is a precondition for the prevention of family violence and other forms of violence against women and girls.

Our Watch, Australia's national primary prevention organisation, released a report 'Change the Story' identifying four gendered drivers of violence that must be addressed if we are to reduce violence against women:

  • Rigid gender roles and identities.
  • Condoning of violence against women.
  • Men's control of decision-making and limits to women's independence.
  • Male peer relations that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women.

This perspective was reaffirmed in the report of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence:

"There is a need to implement primary prevention strategies that are designed to dismantle harmful attitudes towards women, promote gender equality and encourage respectful relationships."

The Royal Commission called for the Victorian Gender Equality Strategy to serve as the platform for a strong primary prevention approach, linked to the Primary Prevention Strategy of the Family Violence Action Plan.

Gender equality provides economic benefit

Every day that we fail to deliver gender equality we pay the economic price.

Closing Australia's gender employment gap would boost GDP by around 11 per cent, and by 20 per cent if the productivity gap were addressed.

While women are now achieving at high levels of education, this has not translated to equal workforce engagement or earnings. The Australian economy would gain $8 billion if women transitioned from tertiary education into the workforce at the same rate as men.

Gender equality in leadership positions increases business performance. Research by the Peterson Institute for International Economics into 21, 980 firms from 91 countries showed that firms with at least 30 per cent women in leadership positions were 15 per cent more profitable.

The cost of gender inequality

The disproportionate burden of unpaid care borne by women imposes major economic costs on Australia. In Australia in 2009-10 the unpaid care sector ($650 billion) was nearly six times larger than the paid care sector ($112.4 billion).

There are considerable savings to be realised by reducing violence against women and girls. In Victoria family violence costs our economy more than $3.4 billion a year and constitutes 40 per cent of police work.

Gender equality is a human right

Gender equality is a human right and precondition for social justice.

As a party to both the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action, Australia has committed itself to being a society with policies, laws, institutions and attitudes that support equal rights for women and men.

Australia also actively participated in international discussions to design the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which set out clear goals for achieving gender equality.

Responsibility for realising a commitment to equality and non-discrimination falls to all levels of government. Victoria gives local expression to these values through the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 and the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic).

Gender equality delivers social benefits

The most unequal societies also tend to be the least cohesive, with higher rates of anti-social behaviour and violence. We also know that discrimination can lead to exclusion and that those who find themselves on the fringes are more likely to encounter discrimination.

In contrast, countries that maintain greater equality between men and women also experience a range of social benefits, including increased social cohesion, connectivity and greater health and wellbeing.

I'm sick of walking into meetings and seeing a room full of blokes sitting around a table. How does that help the progress of our state? How does that guarantee the best decisions? And how does that influence the culture of an organisation for the better? The fact is, when organisations lose diversity, they lose touch. And eventually, we all lose out. Because bad attitudes produce bad results. Not just in organisations, but in our society.

Source: The Hon Daniel Andrews MP, Premier of Victoria


What works: Learning from best practice

Victorians called on the Victorian Government to use its power and influence to lay the foundations for gender equality. In the first years of the Strategy we will learn from and apply the lessons of other progressive jurisdictions-drawing on all the levers of Government to deliver necessary change.

It would be hard to find a country in the world that has successfully tackled entrenched gender inequality without any constitutional or legal reform.

Source: UN Women

We will start with strong governance embedded in legislation

Countries with the highest rates of gender equality have established strong gender equality governance structures such as dedicated agencies with responsibility for advising government, co-ordinating and monitoring progress towards gender equality and the prevention of violence against women.

Similarly, laws that establish equal rights and challenge the status quo, provide an important means to demand and achieve gender equality in practice. Laws can also influence social norms, cultural expectations and popular attitudes, as well as policy shifts.

That is why we will create a Prevention Agency with dedicated funding and a Gender Equality Act.

What works: The value of gender equality legislation in the Nordic countries

Iceland-the top ranked country on the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index-has had a Gender Equality Act since the 1970s. The current 2008 act includes commitments to: gender analysis in policy and budgets; gender equality education in early childhood, school and tertiary settings; quotas and targets; work addressing pay discrimination, violence and sexual harassment; enabling women and men to reconcile work and family life; and challenging gender role stereotypes.

We will use our purchasing and funding power

Each year, the Victorian Government provides $2 billion of funding support to the not-for-profit (NFP) sector and spends over $10 billion on a variety of goods and services from the private sector. Lessons from other jurisdictions show that the Victorian Government can leverage this position:

  • Encouraging suppliers, contracted organisations and funded agencies to become 'gender equality promoting employers'.
  • Embedding gender equality goals in the subject of a contract.
  • Supporting women owned businesses.

What works: Equality in the legal profession

Private law firms on the Victorian Government Legal Services Panel are required to report regularly on their briefing of women barristers, comply with the Victorian Bar's Equal Opportunity Briefing Policy and report on the equal opportunity arrangements in their workplace. In-house legal units in government departments and agencies using the Panel are also required to record their briefs to barristers by gender, seniority and fees paid.

In August 2015 the Victorian Government reinstated the annual publication of the Women Barristers Briefing Report, which identified that for the period 2009/10-2014/15, women barristers received just 25 per cent of the $32 million in fees charged to the Victorian Government.

Reporting will be an important step in improving this position.

We will put a gender lens on policies, budgets and economic planning

Governments internationally are already embedding gender considerations into budgets, legislation, public policy and planning.

Gender impact analysis considers the implications of a policy in terms of resource distribution; distribution of paid and unpaid work; the adequacy of a policy to meet the different needs of women, men and trans and gender diverse people; and how the policy might affect gender norms and roles.

Gender responsive budgeting (GRB) reviews and adapts budgetary processes and policies so that expenditures and revenues reflect gender differences and gender inequalities in income, assets, decision-making power, service needs and responsibilities for caring. GRB has been used to good effect internationally:

  • in Morocco GRB is being used to address women's poverty and exclusion
  • in India and Mexico, GRB has led to changes in fiscal policies in areas like education, health and infrastructure, and has contributed to the achievement of gender-oriented goals
  • in Austria and Ecuador, GRB has led to improved systems of accountability for public spending for gender-oriented purposes.

A number of jurisdictions are also developing broader models of the economy to complement Gross State Product (GSP). These models look to balance economic and social considerations - acknowledging the value and costs of unpaid work, income inequality and underemployment.

Progressive jurisdictions are also creating the business case for employers to sponsor child care, provide a childcare allowance or offer secure and flexible work arrangements.

What works: Maryland Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)

Maryland applies the GPI which provides a more complete picture of economic and social progress. It accounts for non-market benefits from the economy, environment and society not included in GSP and identifies and deducts costs such as environmental degradation and poor health.

The measurement offers a clearer picture of the costs and benefits of the state's economic activity, and allows economic and social impact indicators -such as reducing time on unpaid work or income inequality-to be assessed.

In Maryland the GPI is already telling a very different story about the connection between economic growth and quality of life. Maryland's GSP estimates were nearly 50 percent higher than that reported by the GPI in 2000, showing that the GPI was no longer reflecting an increase in genuine progress.

We will look at our public sector employment practices

With 285,692 staff (9 per cent of Victoria's total workforce) spread across the Victorian Public Service, public authorities, health care services, schools, TAFE Institutes, police and emergency services organisations, water and land management agencies, the public sector is well placed to set an example to the whole Victorian workforce. We will learn from other progressive jurisdictions in this process.

Many are using gender auditing to identify how factors-like culture, policies, systems and practices-promote or work against workplace gender equality.

What works: The EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) certification standard

The EDGE measures commitment to gender equality in five areas-equal pay for equivalent work; recruitment and promotion; leadership development training and mentoring; flexible working; and organisational culture.

EDGE certified organisations include the World Bank, Ikea, AXA insurance and SAP.

Creating flexible work arrangements can also add value.UK research suggests that two-thirds of people who are unemployed, retired, are carers, or have a disability or long-term illness would be inclined to start working if suitable flexible work were available.

Paid parental leave is also becoming an increasing consideration. Such policies can support a more rapid return to work among mothers, help shift gender norms and support women's longer term economic security. In Australia, a growing number of private companies are assessing the feasibility of providing parents with an entitlement to extended non-transferable paid parental leave, which can be used to provide primary care to that person's child at any time within the child's first two years.

We will be advocates

The Commonwealth has significant responsibilities-from childcare subsidies, to managing income tax and benefits, superannuation and spending in aged care and education.

There are opportunities for change in each of these areas to promote gender equality, through advocacy via the Council of Australian Governments.


Targets work

So that we don't lose sight of our long term objectives, the Victorian Gender Equality Strategy establishes a framework for measuring and reporting on our progress.

If you really want to make a difference in gender equality you have to set targets.

The value of targets

In March 2015 the Premier announced that women will make up 50 per cent of all new appointments to courts and paid government boards in Victoria. This has seen a rise in representation of women from 39 per cent in March 2015, to 49 per cent as at September 2016.

The most effective targets are built up progressively over time to allow for sustained and enduring change.

Research undertaken by the Centre for Ethical Leadership demonstrates that targets and quotas are a valuable means to increase gender equality.

For example:

  • In France, women's representation on state-owned boards rose from 30 per cent in 2004 to 44 per cent in 2010 after the introduction of quotas (40 per cent representation of women) for all listed companies and non-listed companies with over 500 workers.
  • In Australian businesses, new board appointments for women increased from 5 per cent in 2009 to 27 per cent in 2010 following the Australian Stock Exchange's requirement for annual report disclosure of company objectives and progress towards gender equality.

Good intentions have never been enough to deliver equality for women. The most successful gender equality initiatives are those that apply challenging targets, backed by effective sanctions and incentives.

Just the beginning

That's why the Victorian Government has adopted a set of targets which reflect our commitment to reform. These leadership targets will be added to when baseline data collection has been completed in other areas.

Building the evidence

A good strategy is designed to build the evidence of what works - researching best practice initiatives, trialling them within a Victorian context and evaluating their impacts.

The emphasis will be on assessing the relationship between what we do, the resources we invest and the longer term results we achieve.

What works: AICD Targets

In 2015, the Australian Institute of Company Directors called for all boards, with particular emphasis on ASX 200 boards, to achieve a 30 per cent target for women's representation by the end of 2018. Since then they have been tracking the progress of companies and publishing the statistics in quarterly reports. The latest report shows that women make up 23 per cent of ASX 200 boards.

What works: BHP Targets

In 2016 BHP Biliton has adopted an ambitious target to make half its workforce women by 2025. Women currently make up just 17 per cent of its global workforce. The target covers its entire workforce including the board and senior managers, who are given a specific performance goal of lifting female representation by 3 per cent each year.

I grew up in a big international law firm that I love, but the number of female partners was so low and had been so low for such a long time that I soon realised that unless we have at least targets if not quotas, there was no way we were going to have…a significant number of females in the partnership…I'm pro-quotas, I'm pro targets, and I think we should be made accountable in order to reach those numbers.

Source: Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund


A strategy for the long term

Changing something as entrenched as gender inequality will not happen quickly or easily.

Sometimes efforts to make change of this magnitude and complexity are met with resistance.

Just as it took 25 years of focused, sustained action to build community support for the effort to reduce the road toll and curb smoking rates in Victoria, it will also take time and focus to change poor behaviours and attitudes towards women.

Sustained and enduring architecture

For too long, state-wide coordination of gender equality and initiatives to end family violence have been sporadic and underfunded.

Despite women's organisations calling for greater focus and investment, progress and change was undermined by a lack of support.

There is a need to reduce violence against women and girls and the poor attitudes and behaviours that drive it. Sustainable and enduring structures which can oversee implementation and track progress over time, are required.

Founding reforms

The Strategy sets out a series of founding reforms, to lay the groundwork for enduring and sustained change over time, including the creation of a prevention agency with dedicated funding to prevent family violence.

The Victorian Government has an important role in setting standards for acceptable behaviour and modelling good practice. That's why in this Strategy the Victorian Government applies all its levers - legislation, policy development and budgeting as well as public sector employment and more - to achieve gender equality and prevent violence against women and girls.

Early actions

But gender equality cannot be achieved by the Victorian Government alone. It is the responsibility of everyone-individuals, families, schools, communities, workplaces, sporting clubs and the media and arts-to build a culture of respect and equality.

The Strategy identifies early actions where the Victorian Government and community can work together.

An important part of building gender equality will involve strategic alliances - with industry, philanthropists, local councils, the not-for-profit sector, women's health organisations, sporting bodies, education providers and others-who want to be a part of driving change.

A focus on outcomes

  • The Strategy will be guided by an outcomes framework to underpin effort and action over the long term.
  • The preliminary framework is included in the Strategy, and will be refined while measures are collected, baselines established and further targets identified.
  • This work will be completed by June 2018.

What government will do

Founding reforms

Reducing violence against women

  • Prevent family violence by implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence in full and through a Statewide Family Violence Action Plan and Primary Prevention Strategy.
  • Create a state wide behaviour change advertising campaign and continue to support the Victoria Against Violence public awareness campaign.

Develop our gender equality baseline and set gender equality targets

  • Review the full range existing data sources and data sets available to inform gender equality in Victoria.
  • Establish Victoria's gender equality baseline.
  • Set additional targets, drawing from our baseline analysis.

Measure progress against preliminary Gender Equality targets to lift women's leadership

  • Victorian Public Service-Appoint 50 per cent women executives.
  • Local government-50 per cent women councillors and Mayors by 2025.
  • Paid public boards-50/50 representation of women in new appointments.
  • Courts (including VCAT)-50/50 representation of women in new appointments.
  • State sport and recreation organisational boards-40 per cent women by 2019.
  • Private and not-for-profit boards-voluntary target of at least 40 per cent women in new appointments.

Embed strong governance structures

Establish a Prevention Agency with dedicated funding to strengthen our focus on prevention of family violence. For too long we have focused on a crisis response at the expense of a long-term approach to prevention. The Prevention Agency, supported by enduring funding, will:

  • Coordinate and oversee activities under the Primary Prevention Strategy.
  • Monitor and provide advice on the achievement of prevention outcomes.
  • Commission research into prevention methods and activities.
  • Fund, coordinate and support Local Prevention Alliances, and work with Australia's national primary prevention organisation, Our Watch and other organisations working in the field of prevention to change the attitudes and behaviours that lead to family violence in Victoria.

Commit to legislative change

  • Enact a Gender Equality Act to embed strong governance structures and to promote and improve gender equality across government functions. This will be developed in consultation with relevant policymakers and stakeholders.
  • Explore legislative and complementary measures (such as workplace education and training) to better protect against gendered discrimination.
  • Review laws relating to gender-based hate speech and sexist advertising, including on public transport assets.

Model gender equality in public sector workforce

  • Progressively introduce gender auditing to Victorian Government departments to measure performance in five key areas: equal pay for comparable work; recruitment and promotion; leadership development and mentoring; flexible working; and organisational culture. This will occur initially through pilots and be the subject of evaluation (including cost-benefit analysis).
  • Continue to support flexible work arrangements in the public service, with all government departments to adopt a policy of all roles are flexible with a requirement to justify 'if not why not'.
  • Annual reporting by agencies on progress to improve gender equality, including reporting on the gender pay gap; uptake of flexible work; gender equality in recruitment and promotion; and access to training and development.
  • Introduce targets to achieve equity in employment, building on the commitment to 50 per cent women in executive roles and all roles as flexible.

Progressively introduce gender impact analysis in policy, budgets and service delivery

  • Commence work on Gender Budget Statements, from the 2017-18 Budget.
  • Develop and pilot gender impact analysis tools in policy, service delivery and budget development. Evaluation outcomes, including cost-benefit analysis, will inform wider roll-out. This will include sharing learnings with the private, not-for-profit and community sectors.

Leverage purchasing and funding power to influence change

Progressively introduce gender ethical procurement policies in relation to contracted organisations, suppliers and funded agencies, to encourage and promote:

  • Commitments to family violence leave.
  • Progressive work towards gender equality in their own workplaces.
  • Where relevant and appropriate to reflect gender equality considerations in procurement contracts.

These policies will apply only to larger contracts and to organisations with 200 plus employees. They will be developed in consultation with the relevant policy setters across all government procurement frameworks, including the Victorian Government Purchasing Board, Health Purchasing Victoria, Construction Policy and with stakeholders.

Explore undertaking gender audits for major transport projects.

Address the economic dimensions of gender inequality

Establish a Ministerial Council on Women's Equality to:

  • Provide expert advice on the identification of opportunities for quality ongoing and secure job creation, particularly through the Jobs Victoria employment network.
  • Research the accessibility of out of school hours care and work place childcare initiatives.
  • Consider strategies and research to address poverty, experienced by senior women, single mothers and women in caring professions.
  • Consider strategies to close the gender gap in a range of policy areas, including the economic independence of women.

Establish an Equal Workplaces Advisory Committee (EWAC). The Committee will:

  • Identify government action that will promote the achievement of gender equality including addressing gendered occupational segregation.
  • Identify, promote and publish good practice examples of where initiatives are working to promote gender equality in the workplace, across the private sector and Victorian Public Service (VPS).
  • Consider issues and linkages relating to pay equity, equality and productivity, building human resources capacity and achieving equitable outcomes for men and women.

  • Develop a model for valuing unpaid work and care and its impact on the Victorian economy.
  • Create a series of business cases with key partners on employer-sponsored early childhood education and care and flexible work arrangements.

Advocacy to the Commonwealth

  • Advocate to the Commonwealth on the economic benefits of gender equality through early childhood education and care subsidies, the tax system, the retirement income system, paid parental leave, media regulation reform, and investment in aged care, education and other relevant areas.
  • Leverage the Commonwealth's National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children, specifically the key actions related to gender equality.
  • Advocate for Family Violence Leave provisions to be included in the National Employment Standards.

We will work together

Gender equality cannot be achieved by the Victorian Government alone.

It is the responsibility of all of us-individuals, families, communities, work places, businesses, sporting associations, as well as media and the arts-to build a culture of respect and equality for all individuals.

The Strategy considers six key settings for early action:

  • education and training
  • work and economic security
  • health, safety and wellbeing
  • leadership and representation
  • sport and recreation
  • media, arts and culture.

The Victorian Government recognises women's leadership in gender equality, including proven strategies developed over time by women's health, community organisations and advocacy networks to improve the status of women and reduce gendered violence. Through the Strategy, the Victorian Government will continue to support and grow the specialist expertise and cultural competency in gender equality developed by women's services.

In particular, the Victorian Government will seek to grow the existing leadership of women's health services, multicultural women's organisations, women with disabilities networks, LGBTI advocacy groups, women's cultural organisations, women's sporting associations, business women's networks, women's leadership organisations, rural and regional women's networks, women focused philanthropy and international development organisations, and other organisations focused on women and the empowerment of women.

Strategic alliances with Aboriginal Victorians will occur within the frame of the Victorian Government's commitment to self-determination, ensuring that Aboriginal Victorians can lead efforts to identify and respond to the challenges of gender inequality as they affect their communities.


Education and training

Young people are concerned about the damaging impact of stereotypes, the problem of sexual objectification-including its effects on body image and self-confidence-and about sexual violence, victim-blaming and sexting.

They called for safe spaces to talk about gender, gender equality curriculum and for school and community based strategies to empower and educate.

We start learning about the world around us and our place in it in early childhood

Children are able to 'self-socialise', which means that children's books and toys, their parent's jobs, the way people around them interact and the attitudes they convey, all influence how children think about themselves in the world.

From two years old, children begin forming concepts of gender and gender difference. By age five, children develop their gender identity and become aware of gender differences and by seven, children are developing rigid ideas of gender.

Primary school aged children already define jobs as 'boys' or 'girls' jobs and while they may be keen to challenge these categories, stereotypes can stand in the way.

Getting on with it: Sexuality Education Policy

The Department of Education and Training's sexuality education policy and gender policies govern sex education in Victorian schools, and aims to build on knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable young people to make responsible and safe choices.

At school, gender stereotypes become entrenched and shape attitudes, behaviours and choices

At age 15, Victorian boys outperform girls in numeracy, while in reading Victorian girls outperform boys. Girls are more likely to opt out of intensive maths-a critical prerequisite for many tertiary STEM courses.

Outside of the classroom, gender stereotypes also play a role and influence ideas about sexuality and body image. They also inform young people's expectations about intimate relationships.

Bullying, discrimination and mental health issues might also arise as a result of these gendered expectations, with negative consequences for girls, trans and gender diverse young people, and boys. Cultural connection and safety also impact on a child's confidence and sense of belonging.

Despite school dress code policies emphasising the need to treat students equally, in practice these codes can also be heavily gendered. Attempts to enforce modest dress codes for girls as a means of preventing sexist behaviour, harassment and violence reinforce the unhelpful notion that girls are responsible for ensuring their own safety.

There are big differences in tertiary and vocational pathways

Women make up 33 per cent of STEM undergraduates, 40 per cent of STEM PhD completions, and 14 per cent of STEM professors. Women account for less than 4 per cent of Victorian VET enrolments for construction, engineering and trades courses and less than 10 per cent of apprenticeships. Men comprise only 16 per cent of Victorian VET enrolments for the caring industries, including nursing, early childhood, aged and disability care.

Compared to male early school leavers, women are less likely to find full-time work and more likely to go into lower paid work. This reflects that women are 48 per cent less likely to re-engage with study following the birth of a child.

Getting on with it: STEM in the Education State

The Victorian Government's STEM in the Education State supports more girls to excel in STEM, become more confident in their STEM related abilities, understand the relevance of STEM learning to a diverse range of jobs and pursue STEM careers. A network of Science and Mathematics Specialist Centres also provide specific programs for girls, such as the Women in Engineering program and Women in STEM five-day program.

Respectful Relationships Education

In 2015 the Victorian Government announced the introduction of Respectful Relationships Education into the school curriculum.

The curriculum supports students to learn how to build healthy relationships and challenge negative stereotypes, attitudes and behaviours such as prejudice, discrimination and harassment that can lead to violence and excuse violence against women.

The Victorian Government is investing $21.8 million over two years to implement Respectful Relationships Education across schools and early childhood services because the best relationships are respectful ones. Expansion of the program was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Early actions

  • Develop gender equality programs with young people, including apps, gender equal reading lists and gender equality resources.
  • Encourage women and girls to undertake studies and career pathways in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

Work and economic security

Women still face barriers to workplace equality and economic security. They want action now, with demands that governments, businesses and the not-for-profit sector take equal pay seriously and create workplace cultures that embrace flexibility and better work-life balance for all.

Gender inequality hurts the hip pocket

Victorian women currently earn only 87.6 cents for every dollar earned by Victorian men. The strongest contributor to this disparity is gender discrimination. As a result Victorian women aged 55-64 years are more likely to have inadequate superannuation coverage compared to men, and to experience poverty.

Women are also far more likely to be in insecure work, reflecting the growing insecurity of service industry and community services sector, and the need for women to seek casual, part-time and flexible forms of work to help them balance work with parenting and caring responsibilities.

Victoria's labour markets remain divided along gender lines

Victoria's gender gap in workforce participation sits at 14 percentage points. The strongest contributor to this gap is unpaid care, especially of children. Victorian women undertake nearly twice the amount of unpaid work and care than Victorian men, making it more difficult to remain in the workforce. Variable access to flexible working conditions, paid parental leave, poor child care options and workplace discrimination all contribute to this problem.

Single mothers, women with a disability and women from culturally diverse backgrounds face additional barriers including racism and discrimination, lack of affordable childcare, and family pressures relating to traditional gender roles.

Migrant and refugee women in particular are overrepresented in insecure work and are often overqualified for their employment positions. The importance of supporting economic participation for Aboriginal women-through education, employment opportunities and investment-is a key driver to improving workforce participation.

What works: Access to early childhood education and care

Reducing high effective tax rates and the net cost of child care can incentivise second income earners with limited financial incentives to work full time. Although estimates vary, most studies find that a 10 per cent reduction in child care costs increases maternal employment by between 0.5 and 4 per cent.

Getting on with it: Flexible work

The Victorian Government is committed to making flexible roles common practice across the Victorian Public Service.

Women continue to be under-represented in industries such as finance, construction, utilities, science and technical services

A failure to attract and skill women for careers in these industries has a twofold negative economic impact: a loss of productivity gains, by not drawing on the skills and capabilities of a large sector of the labour force; and further entrenching occupational segregation, with potential to widen the gender pay gap and reduce economic security for women and their families.

Sexism, sexual harassment, bullying and workplace violence are common

62 per cent of working women are likely to face gendered discrimination, workplace violence or sexual harassment over a five year period. Casual sexism is also prevalent in the workplace. Importantly while many workforces turn a blind eye, these frequent, less intensive behaviours are just as harmful as single instances of sexual coercion or unwanted sexual attention.

More women are becoming entrepreneurs

Over the last two decades, the number of female-run small businesses has increased by nearly 50 per cent, almost double the rate of male-run small businesses. The rate at which women are entering the start-up and innovation sectors is also growing. Promoting entrepreneurship is a key avenue for women to enter the workforce, particularly for newly arrived migrants and refugees (almost a third of female business operators are born overseas), women in rural and regional areas (just under a third of female small business operators live in regional areas) and women with disabilities (12 per cent of women employers and sole operators have a disability).

What works: Gender audits in workplaces

Good practice workplaces are now undertaking gender audits-covering their culture, leadership, policies, practices and systems. Audits are used to identify and disrupt harmful workplace cultures, encourage participative forms of leadership and shift the structures and systems that produce inequality. This includes countering unconscious bias in recruitment and promotion, setting targets for women's representation, encouraging male advocacy in the workplace, and supporting men out of the paid workforce with flexible working conditions and parental leave. They are also establishing zero tolerance policies and educating workers about the harmful impacts of sexism.

Getting on with it: Women's roundtables

The Victorian Government has established a Women's Roundtable as a conduit for actioning gender equality strategy and leadership in the local government sector.

Early actions

  • Raise awareness of economic insecurity and the challenges of balancing work and family for working women.
  • Direct WorkSafe to examine how gendered violence in the workplace can be addressed by facilitating training of Health and Safety Representatives in gender equality.
  • Promote women's entrepreneurialism and innovation by working with investors to support female entrepreneurs.
  • Host the first all women international trade delegation to China in 2017.
  • Support women in small business through:
  • Leveraging the annual Small Business Festival to promote, connect and strengthen women's small businesses with a dedicated week of activity.
  • Enhancing opportunities for women through existing Small Business Packages.
  • Request the Victorian Aboriginal Economic Board to consider specific issues facing Aboriginal women in business and advising on strategies in conjunction with the delivery of the Victorian Aboriginal Business Strategy.
  • Foster support for Aboriginal women to have financial security, including through funding to Victorian Aboriginal women's organisations supporting educational and employment pathways.
  • Foster support for women from migrant and refugee backgrounds to have financial security, including by examining underemployment, insecure work, opportunities for improved education and employment pathways, and financial management training.
  • Explore opportunities for joint Commonwealth/State pilot programs to support key cohorts, such as single parents returning to the workforce and older women who are unemployed.

10 things Victorian business leaders can do for gender equality

  1. They understand the economic benefits that come from diversity in decision making and make this part of their bottom line strategy.
  2. They recognise the gender gap and conduct an immediate audit of their workplace to assess women's roles, seniority and pay parity.
  3. They set targets and timeframes by which they will achieve diversity.
  4. They understand that change must come from the top so they talk about their objectives 24/7 and make it part of their company's core business.
  5. They recognise that girls from a young age are conditioned to accept second place so they actively seek out women for development and promotion.
  6. They introduce and promote flexible workplaces for everyone and introduce family violence leave provisions.
  7. They call out and act against sex discrimination, sexist language, sexual harassment and sexist workplace norms without causing harm to women.
  8. They prioritise diversity competency in staff, promote those who support diversity goals, share their objectives and ideals and bring in expertise from outside when needed.
  9. They make the change happen by making it central to their business plans, key performance indicators and company strategies.
  10. They regularly audit progress and are publicly transparent about how they are performing over time.

Fiona Richardson, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Public Sector Women in Leadership Summit 2015, based on learnings gained during gender equality consultations.


Leadership and participation

Women continue to miss out on the highest levels of leadership and decision-making in business, government and community. Representation of Aboriginal women, women with a disability, and women from culturally diverse backgrounds remains disproportionately low.

Gendered ideas about leadership are formed early

Almost a quarter of teenage girls and 40 per cent of teenage boys prefer male over female political leaders. Girls are less likely to take up leadership opportunities available through schooling, sport and recreation, and other co-curricular activities. Gender stereotypes and a lack of visible female role models can undermine girls' and young women's confidence and impede the accumulation of skills, experiences and networks that underpin leadership.

Gender equality in workplace leadership varies by industry and sector

Women continue to be under-represented in business despite the development of clear gender equity targets-25 per cent of ASX companies have no women in senior management roles. Women in professions such as STEM, banking and finance, law, medicine and emergency services face strong cultural and institutional obstacles to leadership. This is despite the fact that women often have far higher postgraduate qualifications and are more likely to be overqualified for their work and wage than men in the same work.

Special measures are needed

At all levels of government, business and community, women face a range of barriers to gaining leadership positions. These include unconscious bias, poor recruitment practices, male-dominated industries and poor workplace cultures. Research also suggests that women are often held to a higher standard than men in application processes.

Without clear targets and quotas for women's representation in leadership, progress can be incredibly slow. Targets work best when supported by programs that create a pipeline of talented women leaders to choose from, training and networking opportunities, mentoring programs and scholarships.

Gender equality in leadership benefits us all

When women are empowered in the home, their greater control over household resources often translates into higher expenditure on food and education, to the benefit of children. When women are empowered in business, the economy profits. Having more women on the trading floors of stock exchanges reduces the risk to financial markets. Female public and political participation fosters economic growth, because when more women work, economies grow.

Early actions

  • Launch the Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leadership Program for Women, enabling a pipeline of new leaders through development, networking and mentoring.
  • Launch the Women on Boards Leadership Program to provide flexible support packages for women pursuing a board career, including through networking, scholarship programs, mentoring and capacity building.
  • Enhance the visibility and functionality of the Victorian Women's Register.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of Victorian women by expanding the reach and visibility of the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.
  • Support the establishment of HERPlace, the Women's HERitage Centre to record the history of women in Victoria and promote women's leadership role in the Victorian community.
  • Foster support for Aboriginal Victorian women to self-determine programs that lift women's voices, participation and leadership.
  • Foster the leadership of women from culturally diverse backgrounds, LGBTI communities, as well as women with a disability, as an integral strategy to build gender equality.
  • Re-establish the Rural Women's Network.
  • Support local councils and the community sector to trial and evaluate gender auditing within their own organisations.

Health, safety and wellbeing

Gender is one of the most powerful determinants of health outcomes. All Victorians-men, women, trans and gender diverse people-are affected by gendered health inequalities.

Gender is a core determinant of health

Women experience common mental health disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety at two to three times the rate of men. They also make up over 60 per cent of reported cases of intentional self-harm and attempted suicide in Australia. Many women experience multiple and severe health disadvantages as a result of intersectional discrimination associated with their background, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, where they live and their economic means.

Men are more likely to engage in violent and risk taking behaviours and excess alcohol consumption, placing them at greater risk of harm and injury. They are also more likely to work in dangerous occupations, exposing them to greater risk of injury or death, and are less likely than women to attend a GP consultation. Norms that teach boys and men to be physically and emotionally strong have been linked to higher rates of depression and a reluctance to seek psychological help.

Getting on with it: Capacity Building and Participation Program

The Victorian Government recently established the Capacity Building and Participation Program, providing community grants aimed at strengthening the participation, inclusion and contribution of Victoria's multicultural communities and building community capacity to respond to family violence.

Gender inequalities place women at a lifelong health disadvantage

Gender inequalities in workforce participation, caring responsibilities and remuneration contribute to poor health outcomes for women. Women's concentration in low-paid, low-status and often insecure lines of work exposes them to greater stress and vulnerability to serious illness, including heart disease, mental illness and musculoskeletal disorders.

Women also tend to be under-represented in clinical trials for new drugs, treatments and devices in Australia and around the world. This can mean that gender responsive data and research is limited. Accurate and comprehensive data and evidence-based research are critical for effective policy, planning and service delivery for women.

Violence against women is the leading cause of preventable death, disability and illness for women aged between 15 and 44 years

A 2012 study found that Victoria had a higher proportion of women who had experienced multiple incidents of violence during the 12 months prior to the survey, compared to the national average. Women facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and disadvantage are at even greater risk of violence, and encounter greater difficulties in accessing support.

Women require better access to reproductive health services

Family planning is widely recognised as one of the most cost-effective health interventions, with positive effects on women's long-term health, employment prospects and income.

Yet a lack of access to local health services and female GPs, particularly in rural areas, has a major effect on the sexual and reproductive health status of women. Fewer clinical services, transport problems, the fear of judgemental attitudes from health workers, and a lack of confidentiality and anonymity is leading to poorer access to emergency contraception, counselling and abortion services.

Getting on with it: Reproductive Rights Education Program

The Victorian Government supports the Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program, working with women, girls, men and communities who may be affected by female genital mutilation or cutting.

Early actions

  • Work to prevent family violence through a Statewide Family Violence Action Plan and Primary Prevention Strategy.
  • Continue to improve the gynaecological and reproductive health of Victorians by increasing access to best practice prevention, diagnosis, early intervention and treatment services.
  • Continue to incorporate gender conscious parenting approaches in maternal and child health communications, including app development.
  • Challenge unrealistic and unhealthy female beauty standards and promote healthy body image.
  • Develop a Gender Gap App to identify and evaluate gender equity in urban environments.
  • Partner with and listen to women and girls on their health care and service provision.
  • Foster networks of support and connectivity for women and girls, particularly those from migrant and refugee backgrounds.
  • Continue to provide support for women and girls who have experienced female genital mutilation.
  • Progress implementation of the health sector strategy facilitating cultural change for employee health, by addressing bullying and harassment and ensuring equity and diversity (2016 Our Pathway To Change: Eliminating Bullying and Harassment in Healthcare).

Sport and recreation

Victorians love sport. As a highly visible and valued part of our state's culture and identity, sport has the capacity to challenge gender stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes and to promote core values of fairness and respect. Having more women involved in sport and recreation is important in promoting health and well-being, and improving social cohesion and inclusion.

Sport is a powerful vehicle for change

Sport can change the way women and girls see themselves and the way communities perceive them. Seeing girls play sport challenges gender norms and assumptions about the capability, status and value of women and girls. It can also be a great leveller, helping people see beyond their prejudices and helping to break down barriers.

Sport also plays a powerful role in bringing communities together and enhancing social connectedness and cohesion. This can be the case particularly in regional and rural Victoria, where sporting clubs are often focal points for their communities.

Sport is critical to female empowerment and good health

Physical activity improves mental and physical health, confidence and self-esteem. The benefits of sport and recreation are particularly significant for women and girls, who are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, and are more likely to suffer lower self-esteem and body image issues.

Gender gaps persist

Female participation rates in sport and recreation are lower than those of men. This trend begins at an early age and persists into adulthood.

Gendered barriers to participation include: fewer opportunities to participate, competing time demands, prohibitive costs, discomfort with uniform requirements, fewer career opportunities, discrimination, racism and the fear of being judged by others.

Women also lack access to appropriate facilities. Many sporting facilities do not have female change rooms, are not accessible to women and girls, or are only available at inconvenient times.

Women are under-represented in sports leadership positions, making up only 29 per cent of executive officers in State Sporting Associations. Gender inequalities also persist in the sports media, with accounts of men in sport making up 93 per cent of total television sports coverage. There is also a gender gap in the financial rewards and sponsorship opportunities available to elite athletes, with the majority of Australian female elite athletes unable to participate in their chosen sport on a full-time basis due to insufficient earnings.

Getting on with it: Victorian Government Sport Inquiry

The Victorian Government established the Inquiry into Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation. The Government is now working with the sector and local government to implement all recommendations, with $1 million already allocated to assist this work

Early actions

  • Work with State Sporting Associations and other appropriate partners to pilot gender equality and prevention of family violence education in grassroots sporting clubs, using sporting ambassadors.
  • Work with local government and State Sporting Associations to promote equitable treatment of men and women in the provision of and access to infrastructure and facilities.
  • Include consideration of expenditure on sport and sporting infrastructure, including in educational facilities, as part of the introduction of gender impact analysis.
  • Create an Advisory Committee in partnership with Department of Health and Human Services and specialist organisations to address family violence and gender inequality through sport.
  • Call on the Commonwealth Government to mandate a minimum amount of coverage of female sport by the ABC.

What works: Title IX

Title IX, the US federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs, has been credited with the exponential growth of women's participation in sport in the US. According to the Women's Sports Foundation, before Title IX was enacted in 1972, only 1 in 27 girls participated in sport in high school. 40 years later, 2 in 5 high school girls play sport, and the number of women playing college sports has increased by more than 500 per cent. The legislative requirement to provide male and female students with equal opportunities is also heralded as the driving force behind the success and media profile of US national women's sporting teams. According to Abby Wambach, two-time Olympic gold medallist on the US Women's Soccer Team, "Title IX gave me a national championship ring."

What works: This Girl Can

In the United Kingdom, two million fewer women between 14 and 40 years play sport regularly compared to men, yet 75 per cent of women say that they want to be more active. Sport England's 'This Girl Can' campaign challenges the fear of judgement by others, which has been identified as a major barrier holding women back from participating in sport. This fear covers concerns over their appearance, ability or the fact that they are choosing to spend time on themselves, rather than on their families. 'This Girl Can' is a celebration of active women who participate in physical activity no matter how well they do it or how they look. As a result of the campaign, 1.6 million women have started exercising.


Media, arts and culture

Media and the arts are powerful sources of information and culture, shaping social norms, attitudes and public discourse around gender. These industries have the potential both to reinforce and to challenge restrictive gender norms.

Media and the arts shape cultural norms and attitudes around gender and violence

In 2016 gender stereotypes still dominate the mainstream media and the arts, shaping ideas about how one should look, act and treat others.

When women and girls are depicted, they are twice as likely as men to be shown in sexually explicit scenes; they are also more likely to be the subject of violence.

The implications are far reaching:

  • Idealised depictions of women as young, thin and (sexually) submissive, and men as muscular, powerful and unemotional can contribute to poor body image, low self-esteem, depression and sexual dysfunction.
  • Rigid constructions of 'masculinity' and 'femininity' contribute significantly to violence against women.
  • Depictions of violence against women can serve to normalise it and increase its acceptance in real life.
  • Stereotypical depictions of beauty, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation intensify the gender-based discrimination faced by diverse groups of women and girls.

What works: Banning sexist advertising in Iceland

In Iceland, sexist advertising is regulated under the Act on the Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men, which mandates that advertisements do not 'work against the equal status and equality of men and women in any manner.' Violations of the law are followed up by the Centre for Gender Equality and companies can be fined if they do not voluntarily remove advertisements after being instructed to do so.

What works: Making gender inequality visible

Evidence shows that simply drawing people's attention to a problem can bring about change. In 2014, ABC News' internal analysis found that 80 per cent of interview time was dedicated to men. Over the next 12 months, women's representation in interviews grew by 6 per cent, and ABC News has since made greater diversity a requirement, aiming for equal male and female representation to more accurately reflect Australian viewers.

Changing industry culture starts with greater workforce diversity

Diversifying media messaging around gender requires that we first overcome gender discrimination within these sectors. Despite higher participation rates in creative industries, girls in Victoria enjoy fewer opportunities than their male counterparts for careers in these sectors. Leaders and decision makers (including exhibitors, distributors, sales agents, investors, producers, directors and writers) are also overwhelmingly male.

Across Australian arts awards, only 30 per cent of nominations go to women, even though the gender balance in the overall artist population is relatively even.

Women comprise just 22 per cent of senior managers and 29 per cent of middle managers in the Australian news media.

Women in the media earn on average 23 per cent less than their male counterparts-a gap wider than in other industries.

Despite making up 50 per cent of the population, Australian women represent less than 23 per cent of all sources quoted in the news.

In the arts, less than 25 per cent of all films are about women or include women as principal characters.

Getting on with it: Film Victoria Fellowships

Film Victoria has introduced fellowships for women in the Victorian screen industry and gaming sector, and has introduced diversity and equality considerations as assessment criteria for film funding.

Early actions

  • Promote women's cultural activities and innovations within community and business settings.
  • Promote an annual calendar of women's cultural and campaign events.
  • Work with major media entities to raise awareness about gender equality and challenge stereotypes.
  • Examine workplace initiatives in major media and arts bodies to address discrimination and increase women's representation in decision-making roles.
  • Promote strategies that lift women's visibility as subject matter experts, leaders and spokespersons.
  • Review, with a view to strengthening, the Victorian Government's Gender Portrayal Guidelines. The review will also consider the portrayal of positive images of cultural and religious diversity in Victorian women.

Outcomes framework

So that we don't lose sight of our long term objectives, the Victorian Gender Equality Strategy establishes a framework for measuring and reporting on our progress.

We aim to achieve real change over time by setting targets and measuring success against quantifiable and qualitative indicators.

Our draft Outcomes Framework includes:

  • Domains (our aspirations for cultural, attitudinal, behavioural and structural change).
  • Outcomes (the differences we want to see for Victorians).
  • Indicators (to answer the question of how we will know if we are progressing towards the outcomes and targets).

While some targets have been set, many more require further development. This reflects that while there is an enormous amount of data collected across different fields to track our progress, much of the data is not gender disaggregated or analysed.

Aligning with other outcome frameworks

This Strategy aligns with other Victorian Government reforms particularly the 10 Year Plan for ending family violence.

That plan specifically highlights gender equality as a key outcome in its efforts to end family violence. The reforms included in Safe and Strong form the foundation for this work, particularly in the key area of preventing family violence from happening in the first place.

Next steps

Our critical next steps are to:

  • Review and refine the draft Outcomes Framework with key stakeholders.
  • Review the full range of existing data sources and data sets available across Victorian Government and from bodies such as ANROWS, VicHealth, Our Watch and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, as a basis to develop our measures.
  • Establish a baseline position, that tells us the current status of gender equality in Victoria, including 'where we are performing well' and 'factors holding us back from achieving gender equality'.
  • Setting additional targets by June 2018, drawing from our baseline analysis.

Table: Victorian Gender Equality Strategy Outcomes Framework

Vision: All Victorians live in a safe and equal society, have access to equal power, resources and opportunities, and are treated with dignity, respect and fairness.

Domains Outcomes
Victorians live free from gendered norms, stereotypes, and expectations.

1. Participation in learning, education, the economy and society is not limited by gender.

2. Victorians are rewarded equitably for their contribution in all aspects of society.

3. Victorians do not tolerate attitudes and behaviours that support gender inequality.

Victorians are empowered, healthy, safe and strong.

4. All Victorians are visible, have an equal voice and occupy decision making roles not only at work, but in communities, sport, media and the arts.

5. All Victorians are safe in their homes, communities and workplaces.

6. All Victorians are socially connected and healthy.

As Victorians we value and champion gender equality.

7. Victorians model and promote a commitment to gender equality.

8. All Victorians benefit equitably from the enjoyment and empowerment of sport.

The Victorian Government is a leader on gender equality.

9. Gender equality is embedded in all Victorian Government decisions and actions.

10. The Victorian Government models gender equality best practice in the workplace.

Table: Domain / Goal indicators

Outcome Indicators Targets
Domain 1: Victorians live free from gendered norms, stereotypes and expectations
1. Participation in learning, education, the economy and society is not limited by gender.
  • Reduced gender segregation in occupations and education.
  • Increased availability and uptake of flexible working arrangements.
  • Reduced reports of everyday stereotypes and sexism.
  • Reduced gender gap in workforce participation.
  • Increased workforce participation by women with a disability.
To be determined by June 2018.
2. Victorians are rewarded equitably for their contribution in all aspects of society.
  • Increased gender income equity and security.
  • Increased recognition of women's expertise (media, sports, the arts).
To be determined by June 2018.
3. Victorians do not tolerate attitudes and behaviours that support gender inequality.
  • Increased awareness and understanding of the extent and impact of gender inequality.
  • Increased culture of challenging gender inequalities, across all settings and across all life stages.
To be determined by June 2018.
Domain 2: Victorians are empowered, healthy, safe and strong
4. All Victorians are visible, have an equal voice and occupy decision making roles not only at work, but in communities, sport, media and the arts.
  • Increased representation of women in media, professional sports and at all levels of leadership.
  • Increased diversity of women leaders.
  • 50 per cent of new appointments to paid public boards are women.
  • 50 per cent of new appointments to courts (including VCAT) are women.
  • 50 per cent women councillors and Mayors in local government by 2025.
  • Other targets to be determined by June 2018.
5. All Victorians are safe in their homes, communities and workplaces.
  • Increase in the number of people who feel safe reporting discrimination and bullying.
  • Decrease in family violence.
  • Decrease in prevalence of reported sexism, sexual harassment and gendered bullying.
  • See interim and long term targets in Ending Family Violence: Victoria's Plan For Change.
  • Other targets to be determined by June 2018.
6. All Victorians are socially connected and healthy.
  • Increased access to gender sensitive health services.
  • Increased emphasis on understanding and addressing gendered health issues.
  • Improved mental wellbeing.
To be determined by June 2018.
Domain 3: As Victorians, we value and champion gender equality
7. Victorians model and promote a commitment to gender equality
  • Increased number of organisations that demonstrate a commitment to gender equality.
  • Increased promotion of gendered equality by key social influencers.
To be determined by June 2018.
8. All Victorians benefit equitably from the enjoyment and empowerment of sport.
  • Increased participation of women in sport and physical activity.
  • Increase in women leaders in sport.
  • 40 per cent of appointment to state sport and recreation organisational boards are women by 2019.
  • Other targets to be determined by June 2018
Domain 4: The Victorian Government is a leader on gender equality
9. Gender equality is embedded in all Victorian Government decisions and actions
  • Increased focus on gender equality in Victorian Government procurement.
  • Increased focus on gender equality in Victorian Government budgeting.
  • Increased focus on gender equality in Victorian Government policy making.
To be determined by June 2018.
10. The Victorian Government models gender equality best practice in the workplace
  • Increase in gender pay equity within the Victorian Public Service.
  • Increased uptake of flexible working policies within the Victorian Public Service.
  • Increased satisfaction by all employees in workplace culture.
  • Reduction in the gender gap in the uptake of parental leave in the Victorian Public Service.
  • Increased representation of women across all levels of leadership (VPS 6 upwards).
  • Reduced gender segregation of roles in the Victorian Public Service.
50 per cent of executive appointments in the Victorian Public Service are women.

Definitions

Gender: The socially-constructed differences between men and women, as distinct from 'sex', which refers to their biological differences.

Gender equality: The equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women, men and trans and gender-diverse people. Equality does not mean that women, men and trans and gender diverse people will become the same but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on their gender.

Gender equity: Entails the provision of fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities on the basis of gender. The concept recognises that people may have different needs and power related to their gender and that these differences should be identified and addressed in a manner that rectifies gender related imbalances.

Gender norms and structures: Ideas about how people should be and act according to the gender they are assigned or identify with. We internalise and learn these 'rules' early in life. This sets up a life-cycle of gender socialisation and stereotyping.

Gender stereotypes: Simplistic generalisations about the gender attributes, differences and roles.

Intersectionality: A methodology of studying the overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.

Trans and gender diverse: Transgender (often shortened to 'trans') refers to a person whose gender identity, gender expression or behaviour does not align with their sex assigned at birth. In Australia, children are assigned as male or female at birth. Male children are raised as boys and female children are raised as girls. A person classified as female at birth who identifies as a man may use the label trans, transman or man. Similarly, a person classified as male at birth who identifies as a woman may use the label trans, transwoman or woman.

Gender diverse and non-binary refers to people who do not identify as a woman or a man. In the same way that sexual orientation and gender expression are not binaries, gender identity is not a binary either. It is important to challenge our thinking beyond the binary constructs of male and female.

Intersex: This refers to the diversity of physical characteristics between the stereotypical male and female characteristics. Intersex people have reproductive organs, chromosomes or other physical sex characteristics that are neither wholly female nor wholly male. Intersex is a description of biological diversity and may or may not be the identity used by an intersex person.

Quotas: Quota systems have been viewed as one of the most effective special measures or affirmative actions for increasing gender equality in participation. There are now 77 countries with constitutional, electoral or political party quotas for women. In countries where women's issues had always been relegated to the lowest priority, increases in the number of women in decision-making positions help move women's agendas up to a higher priority level.


References for the data contained in this document can be found online at http://www.women.vic.gov.au/

Aboriginal acknowledgement

The Victorian Government proudly acknowledges Victorian Aboriginal people as the first peoples and Traditional Owners and custodians of the land and water on which we rely.

We acknowledge and respect that Aboriginal communities are steeped in traditions and customs built on an incredibly disciplined social and cultural order. This social and cultural order has sustained up to 50,000 years of existence.

We acknowledge the ongoing leadership role of the Aboriginal community on gender equality and the prevention of family violence. As First Peoples, Aboriginal Victorians are best placed to determine a culturally appropriate path to gender equality in their communities.

Accessibility

If you would like to receive this publication in an accessible format, please contact the department on 9651 5111

Information in this document is available on http://www.vic.gov.au/women/gender-equality/a-victorian-gender-equality-strategy.html

Copyright

© State of Victoria (Department of Premier and Cabinet) 2016

This work, Safe and Strong, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 . You are free to re-use the work under that licence, on the condition that you credit the State of Victoria (Department of Premier and Cabinet) as author, indicate if changes were made and comply with the other licence terms. The licence does not apply to any photography, branding, including Government logos.

Disclaimer

This publication may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.

Reviewed 19 March 2019

Was this page helpful?