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Sandra Sully: Men, Can You Hear Me? I Need You NOW More Than Ever

I WANT men. I NEED men. I won't ACHIEVE anything without men.

Psst, girlfriend -- little note to self: If we are honest, we have always needed men. Many of us have always wanted men, but now we need them more than ever before.

Why?

Because it's time -- it's time they stood up and spoke up.

It's time we fought the good fight together because we'll never achieve anything unless men sing and scream as loudly as women do.

We need them to use their voices and their positions of power and authority to make Australia a far more equitable nation for both men and women.

Friday is International Women's Day and the numbers don't lie.

Women make-up just over 50 percent of the population and the gender pay gap is currently 14.6 percent.

Women are still under-represented on Australian boards -- just 28.4 percent of ASX 200 companies -- and are only 32.9 percent of the Australian parliament.

Almost half of all employed women work part time (44 percent), compared with 16 percent of employed men.

Women are retiring with nearly half the retirement savings of men and are twice as likely to live in poverty in their old age.

"While Australia leads the world in educating women and girls, we perform poorly in three critical areas: violence against women and girls; women’s economic empowerment; and diversity in leadership," says Australia's Sex Discrimination Commission Kate Jenkins.

Kate Jenkins.

Australia's domestic violence rates are still dangerously high:

  • On average, 1 woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner:
  • One in 3 Australian women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15;
  • One in 5 Australian women has experienced sexual violence;
  • One in 4 Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner;
  • This isn't a SHE issue, it's a WE issue.

We have to stop preaching to the converted -- namely women -- and convert a different audience to our cause.

Men were shocked and outraged when #MeeToo swept the world. Let's harness that empathy and transform it into tangible action that delivers real outcomes.

My new book -- A G E N D A -- which I launched as part of International Women's Day, seeks to capture the Australian Women's narrative and work out what's relevant to us, what matters to us, what we need to change and where are we winning and failing.

I enlisted 15 remarkable women -- trailblazers in their respective fields -- and of various ages. From Dame Quentin Bryce to Kate Jenkins, athlete Turia Pitt and acclaimed author and academic Jane Caro.

One of the key questions was: What's men's role in this?

Dame Quentin Bryce said:

It is critical. I'm disappointed to see how few men have the courage and sense of justice to support our long struggle for equality of opportunity and equal state of women. Yes, some do, but not many.

Jane Caro argues:

Many men are standing shoulder to shoulder with women as they fight for their rights, and this is wonderful. Many are also realising that the liberation of women is also the liberation of men. If we can throw off the stereotypical straitjackets of gender roles, we will all, I believe, be happier and healthier as a result.

Sandra Sully and Dame Quentin Bryce at the International Women's Day Long Table Luncheon at Hyatt Regency Sydney on March 01, 2019.

So where to after #MeToo?

Progress, I hope, after what was a monumental, historic and shocking awakening where women in the western world collectively demanded an end to discrimination, injustice, inequality and double standards.

While it provoked an avalanche of accounts of unthinkable crimes against women, importantly it also exposed the staggering gamut of inequality experienced by so many.

The 'gender' conversation has irrevocably changed, but the focus must now shift to creating an open and transparent environment where real progress will be measured by permanent and new standards of justice, equality, fairness, accountability and behaviour for all.

How do we close the gaps?

"Men and women working together for TRUE equality to liberate us from outmoded discriminatory attitudes and practice," said Dame Quentin Bryce.

"We need to transform cultures, attitudes and systems that perpetuate gender inequality," said Kate Jenkins.

"Gender inequality allows and enables violence against women, economic insecurity and women’s under-representation in public life and leadership roles."

We must:

  • understand the evidence;
  • build visible leadership;
  • improve engagement with and education awareness , especially on gender equality;
  • improve our responses;
  • hold ourselves to account, by monitoring and evaluating our progress.

I'll wrap with one of my favourite quotes by Jane Caro from the book:

If women are so damn precious, ethereal and in need of protection, why is it always me that has to scrub the toilet.

When we stop carrying the lion's share of domestic work and I stop hearing conversations and moans like that, then I will know we are there.

We are not even close.

Psst, girlfriend -- pass it on.

x

To purchase the book click here. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to Share the Dignity.