|The West Australian Delegation|
After a few weeks in a new job I decided that it was time for a weekend away and the National Labor Women’s’ Conference in Brisbane was the perfect excuse.
All it took was a “Red Eye” flight (after a late shift at work) to propel me from one side of Australia to the other in a little under 5 hours.
This conference was a celebration of the women who make and have made a huge contribution to Australian society as well as discussion of the major issues facing Australian women today.
Thankfully, it didn’t turn out to be a bra burning and men-hating event that get associated with feminist activities but one of the big things that I learnt over the weekend was to separate men from the patriarchy.
For example, in 21st century we still live in a patriarchal society with many inequalities. Women are still paid 18% less than men and the number of women reaching senior management does not reflect the number of women in the private and non-government sectors and that more than half of people graduating from university are female.
At the domestic level, women are still expected to pick up most of the household duties despite also being employed.
One of the most interesting discussions at the conference was around why so many Generation Y women have negative connotations of feminism. Many of the answers we already knew but hadn’t spoken publicly about.
For example, it is common for gen y girls to think of short haired, loud angry women who hate all men and whose goal is for guys to do all of the house work and child care duties.
But what is sadly missing is a fight against this stereotype and not more of an appreciation of what feminism has done for women, little by little, over time.
It is the little things that we now take for granted, such as the right to vote, not having to give up work when we get married and not have to have the permission to get the signature of our husbands/fathers to open a bank account and acquire a passport.
There is also an absence of understanding of the challenges that are still before us.
Gen Y girls have grown up as equals to their brothers and they are told that they can do anything but it is when it comes to making in the professional world that the challenges start. For example, there are increasing problems with negotiating maternity leave and opportunities for advancement.
After this weekend I am more hopeful for the future. I am sure that one day in the future women are able be paid the same as men for the same day’s work and that men take on more of an equal share of the domestic responsibilities.