However, good times do not always become the best. Though the country, fed by the new workforce, soared high in certain fields, women still did not gain complete and utmost freedom which is their basic birthright. This happened to the underlying prejudices and stereotypes already built in the very fundamental system of Australia’s politics and their people’s mindset. This biased attitude of their own people gave birth to the social stigma related to women discrimination.
In this essay, I will explore the concept of gender equality or inequality in Australia. I will talk about sexual harassment, Australian labour force and Australian politics. With each topic, we will learn how it impacts to women and how it led to the gender rights gap between the two most known societies of men and women.
The country went up the ladder of gender equality by the sex discrimination act of 1984. This act implies clear cut restrictions on discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy or potential pregnancy in a variety of areas within the Australian public as well as personal life. The act voluminously covers wide sphere such as work, accommodation, house, education, provision of good, facilities, services, the activities of various clubs and the administration of any Commonwealth laws and programmes.
The sex discrimination act aims at uplifting the life and providing opportunities to those who are involved in family responsibilities and also, in many cases, to eliminate the raging of sexual harassment cases, especially in public sector.
The act of sex discrimination intends to create a sense of equality in the mindsets of men and women both. It also involves promoting the principle of recognition and acceptance within various communities for both the genders. However, this act too contained quite a many loopholes. Hence, in June 2010, the sex discrimination amendment bill was introduced so as to improvise and correct the wrongs of the previously governed act.
This new amendment made numerous changes to the first one. It allowed the exemption of discrimination on the ground of family responsibilities to both- men and women. It also increases its laws for cases of sexual harassment involving students and workers. There has been a lot of effort by the Australian government in order to reduce sexual harassment cases especially in the public sector with the introduction of the new amendment. However, the application of the act, though improvised, has propped up some serious questions regarding the evident loopholes in the management of the same. Over a quarter of the century, Australia has fought against all the odds of gender discrimination yet only little barriers seem to have dissolved. Eventually, the sex discrimination act proves to be limited and controlled.
The key basis of discrimination in Australia is the harassment and violence against women who are helpless but want to contribute to the total gross development of the country. Women aim at achieving economic, social and cultural freedom while they have only been granted the sophisticated political freedom to elect their leaders. They lack the freedom in their own households.
Another huge liability in the sphere of gender discrimination is the growing number of sexual harassment cases. Between 2006 and 2007, there were a total of 472 complaints made under the sex discrimination act. Majority of them, that is around eighty percent, of the victims, were women. Although, many men faced the issue, the large number of women victims highlight how this gender is more subjected to sex bias in the country. This ensures why Australia should formulate a key contrast against the bias happening with women which have now become a major human rights issue in Australia. Another shocking fact about these cases claims that nearly one out of three women admitted having faced this violence and sexual harassment from an intimate partner such as husband or lover. This highlights the crude mentality of the common men of the country. It is high time that the government realized the real issue plaguing the mentality of the sex discrimination in the common people.
Due to these cases of gender discrimination, Australia has faced the loss of about five hundred million dollars per year on an average because of the employees of Australian business. Hence, lack of proper protective measures in the field of gender discrimination has not only affected the quality of living of the people but also infected the country’s economy by gashing monetary problems as well.
The country has seen a great fall when we talk in terms of female employees working in different fields and sectors. One of the prime reasons for this reduction in female employees after sexual harassment is the maternal responsibilities of women. As I spoke about how it changing mindsets of people is more important and efficient than changing laws and making new amendments. A recent research found that about sixty-three percent of women left their jobs willingly as compared to the male dominant authorities who consider the maternal responsibilities as the duty of the woman only. Over forty-one percent of women who took a break of more than three months or left the job abruptly due to pregnancy or childbirth. It also happens because there is no other family member at home to take care of the children. Also, it is known that for certain reasons females have a more difficult phase in joining their work industry again after a gap of few years than it is for the men. Physical health plays a vital role in helping the women overcome a professional barrier. However, the great perception of men and even women themselves which state that women are less qualified for a certain position matters the most and happens to be one of the biggest tragedy in Australia’s history of gender discrimination. Also, there may be fluctuations in the demand for labour work and this may reduce or increase the demand for female workers. This reason prevails mostly in fields where physical labour work is required such as agricultural industry and product factories.
The social stigmas and prejudices against women make them feel helpless and sometimes guilty of choosing a job that only men are able to do or are considered fit to do so. The stereotype that the girl can only be related to kitchen and children is very old and has been carried on from centuries to centuries. A woman teaches her daughter that she isn’t capable of a man, who in turn teaches the same thing to her daughter and this way, they learn the wrong things and pass on.
To change this practice, certain laws should be implemented such as making the paycheck read the same digit for a man as well as for a woman. The only problem here is the thinking of the men who start feeling inferior to the lady in charge and that hurts their ego. However, the society has to understand that the ego of these men should not be fed. Instead, they should be taught how to behave with a woman as well as how to look at her as an equal in every sphere of life.
Australia has already set the world in precedent by giving their women political freedom but now it should focus on allowing its people to accept, understand and cherish the success of a woman with a proud jubilation. The discrimination practices in the country have seeped through institutions and structures of every organisation. To amend it, Australia needs to address the key issues of culture, society, ethics, technicalities and of personal beliefs with a stronghold of brotherhood as well as of womanhood. Australia should now focus on the underlying aspects of thinking among its society and finally move towards a true and real sense of gender equality.