When Australia was rationalising it’s forms of currencies way back in 1988, I wonder whether gender equality was something that was genuinely part of the decision making process. If you are like me, I naturally assumed that there were more men then women on on Australian bank notes. Turns out I was wrong. We actually have 5 women, 4 men and Parliament house. In fact, I realised that the only thing I really knew about Australian money is that they are water proof, they come in wide range of colours and that there is a trick that makes the $5 note when folded, look some what dubious. Interestingly, if we had an orange note, we’d also have the pride flag all over our money.
The five women who are em blazed and immortalised on our legal tender are:
- Queen Elizabeth II
- Dame Mary Gilmore
- Mary Reiby
- Edith Cowan
- Dame Nellie Melba
The worst bit is, that apart from the Queen, I don’t even really know who these women are. So if you are like me, here is a quick refresher. Dame Mary Gilmore was a socialist idealist, who was renown for her literacy, poetry and journalistic career. She is known for the work she did as the editor of The Worker, campaigning for better working conditions for women and indigenous Australians. Mary Reiby was an English convict who arrived in Australia in 1792 and was an extremely well regarded business woman and known for her work in education and charity in her later years. Edith Cowan was the first woman elected into Australian Parliament in 1920 and was known for her work within women’s equality and her philanthropic work within many areas of social injustice. Finally, Dame Nellie Melba was one of the most famous opera singers of the Victorian era and was the first Australian to achieve international recognition as a classical musician.
Ironically in the case of equality, our female representation on our money, doesn’t translate into the real world. It is almost astonishing that the pay gap has actually increased over the last two decades. For the first time since 1994, the pay gap increased to over 18% last year, signalling some major issues within the area of gender equality. It is crazy to even look at stats, such as mens pay increases averaging at 2.9% per annum compared to women at 1.9%. What is going on here? For all the great work that has been done for the women’s equality movement, it seems that we are actually going backwards. It hurts to say this, but I’m actually not that surprised. With extremely soft political governance of this nation over the past 8 years, it’s almost inevitable that no brainer issues such as this, are just getting left behind.
The thing that really bothers me is the attitude of many men within Australia. I see it all over my Facebook page, men complaining about gender equality. A great example of this was last weekend during International Women’s Day. The typical argument is that women can’t pick and choose where they want this equality. Hey blokes, you know what? Suck it up. Women have had the raw end of the deal since, well, forever. To those non-romantics out there also, equality doesn’t mean the end of chivalry. Also just adding to the fact that whilst not an argument of equality but more to the ridiculous attitude of some men, in regards to sexual assaults and domestic violence. Simple fact, the main cause of death to men under the age of 45 is heart disease, whilst the main cause of death to women under the age of 45 is men. Australia also ranks alarmingly high in sexual assaults. With a rate of 28 women in every 100,000, being victims of sexual assault. More than double the rate of the perceived crime ridden Mexico.
It is time to end the ongoing systemic ‘mans’ world idealism, still bantered around today. Why is equality such a hard concept to grasp for a lot of people? Are some men that insecure with themselves? I have no idea what the answer is, but I am hoping that the world I can help form, will create one which will lead my future children into one that embraces men and women for their differences and also respects the notion of equality. One, which we do everything in power to create a much safer world for women and men. Let’s me be clear also, that I am not forgetting the men who suffer under these horrible situations and with equality in mind all these horrible situations should be treated with a level of thought that violence is not gender specific, but it is definitely biased.
I started with gender equality and drifted into violence against women, but I do really think it is all part of the same problem. The man-centric world. The term gentlemen is one of those that sometimes spits in you in the face with some irony. If you are a man and reading this and feel in anyway the need to argue against equality, then you, yourself are part of the problem. Think about it for a while, get your head out of the sand and get in touch with reality friend, because it is the year 2015. This shit has got to change and we the men, need to be the ones who lead it. They say the the fish rots at the head, let’s start by looking at some real equality within parliament, one, which is not just a fair representation of gender, but of society as a whole. First fix that and I think some real progress may just start to happen.