Rose McGowan Lends Voice To #WalkoutOz For Pay Equality

Actress and women's rights activist Rose McGowan is lending her voice to Wednesday's #WalkoutOz event, urging Aussie women and men to take part.

Women in Sydney are being called on to walk out of their jobs at 3.50pm on Wednesday as a way to illustrate the gender pay gap. Organisers of #WalkoutOz say it represents the time women stop getting paid for their work every day, compared to a man.

The event has attracted support from abroad, with McGowan -- a prominent voice in the #metoo movement -- lending her support to Wednesday's planned walkout.

"Australia, women and men, speak up against inequality in wages," McGowan said in a video post.

"Join us, be brave, speak up."

Compared to men, Australian women work an additional 70 minutes a day on average for free due to the gender pay gap, founder and CEO of The Female Social Network Fi Bendall told 10 daily.

"Let’s go out there and really change things for ourselves, we don’t have to wait for someone else," Bendall said.

“We’re not asking for more, we’re asking for fair."

According to the most recent report from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Australia's gender pay gap stands at 21.3 percent -- an average of $25,717 more in the male pocket.

That's the smallest it's been since the agency began producing its annual report five years ago.

READ MORE: Gender Pay Gap At 20 Year Low, But Still Way Too Big

But with more than 40 percent of employers failing to enact any real change to address the issue beyond scrutinising pay data to detect pay gaps, there's a significant amount of work still to be done to bring wages in line.

“Last year, our data identified an ‘action gap’", WGEA director Libby Lyons said in the report.

"Organisations have policies and strategies in place, but they are not making managers accountable for embedding them in their workplaces. Regrettably, this gap has not narrowed."

Image: Workplace Gender Equality Agency

So it's action Bendall and the network of Australian women she's brought together are demanding.

"For me, women are 52 percent of the population and we still seem like a grassroots movement," she told 10 daily.

"But it’s not only about policy change but a mindset change. It’s about changing a historical mindset and the mindset of women who are scared to walk."

It's the mindset which has women who are otherwise frustrated with their situation not speaking out publicly, Bendall said, for fear of reprisal in their workplace or the stigma attached to the issue.

She hopes Wednesday's walkout will allow them the opportunity to come together with not only fellow women but also men to make a stance.

"If we don’t change the way people think, we won’t change anything."

READ MORE: Female Doctors Get Paid Less Because They 'Don't Work As Hard' Says Male Doctor

Protesters at a rally on Equal Pay Day in Canada. Image: Getty
Not Just Equal Pay, But Economic Security

Addressing the pay gaps which exist across the world is not only a part of fixing the big-picture problem of gender inequality, but of ensuring women have the means to create financial security.

Bendall said altering the mindset which is stopping women from demanding change has a flow-on effect throughout their lives.

"If you’ve got a bit of money, you can change things. You’ll probably feel more comfortable asking for more money, you can help yourself in a divorce situation, you can help yourself get somewhere safe if you’re a victim of domestic violence," she said.

"Of course, people are human beings so if they think they can get away with paying you less than they will. But the fact is if you’ve got a bit of confidence behind you you’re more likely to go ‘no, I want the same money as John’."

Australian women are earning on average $25,717 less than their male counterparts. Image: AAP

The rally isn't the first of its kind, following in the footsteps of French women in 2016 and Icelandic women in 2018 who walked off the job at 4.34pm and 2.55pm respectively.

Those participating in the walkout in Sydney will gather at Martin Place, where Victoria Weekes, Chairperson of the Australian Gender Equality Council and Eva Cox, a feminist academic and Adjunct Professor at UTS will speak.