Our mission is to assist women to advocate for change on issues that matter to them through our democratic processes

Representation of women in public and private sectors

Where are we at?

Women make up more than 50% of Australia’s population but hold substantially less than a third of decision making roles.

Why does it matter?

Women should be equal participants in decisions that affect them, their families, their communities and the nation.

Higher levels of female representation in politics and senior leadership would drive changes in gender norms and have flow on benefits to workforce participation and economic productivity.

Source:  (1) Inter-Parliamentary Union (1 January 2019); (2) Composition of Australian parliaments by party and gender (15 January 2019); (3) PMC Ministry List (2 March 2019); (4) Workplace Gender Equality Agency 2019 Data Explorer; (5) WGEA 2018 “Australia’s Gender Equality Scorecard”

Women’s workforce participation

Where are we at?

Despite equal ability, women do not have an equal opportunity to fully participate in the workforce. Australia’s ranking for women’s opportunity is a dismal 46th out of 149 countries.

Why does it matter?

Cultural and gender norms on caring responsibilities combined with insufficient access to childcare and discrimination prevent women from realising their full potential in the workforce.

Two thirds of working women are in part-time or casual employment, twice the rate of men, and women make up the bulk of the workforce in lower paid occupations.

Improving women’s workforce participation could deliver $60bn p.a. to Australia’s economy by 2038 and provide flow on benefits to women’s financial security and superannuation.

Addressing the workforce participation gap would have positive flow-on impacts on:

Women’s representation in public and private sectors, the superannuation pay gap, and women’s financial security.

Source: (1) World Economic Forum “The Global Gender Gap Report 2018”; (2) WGEA “Australia’s gender equality scorecard” (Nov 2018); (3) Melbourne Institute HILDA Survey 2018; (4) WGEA “Gender Equity Insights 2019”; (5) Productivity Commission “Childcare and Early Childhood Learning” (October 2014); (6) Australian Human Rights Commission “Everyone’s business: 2018 sexual harassment survey”;

Women’s financial security

Where are we at?

Women face a significant gender pay gap through their career and this translates into a 42% lower superannuation balance at retirement on average

Why does it matter?

The gender pay and superannuation gaps leave women exposed to financial insecurity, particularly in retirement.

Even when adjusted to compare only full-time workers, women earn 14% less base pay than men.

The impacts of low income compound over a person’s lifetime. Low income levels mean that more women than men retire with no or limited savings and superannuation. As a result, women disproportionally rely on the aged pension during retirement.

Women’s financial insecurity places them at greater risk of poverty than men because they are more likely to be out of the workforce or working part-time due to caring responsibilities, and need their superannuation savings to stretch further due to their longer life expectancies.

Source: (1) ABS 6302.0 Average Weekly Earnings (November 2018); (2) World Economic Forum “The Global Gender Gap Report 2018”; (3) ASFA “Superannuation account balances by age and gender” (2017)

Violence against women

Where are we at?

Gender-based violence overwhelmingly impacts women and children. Women are 8x more likely to experience sexual violence by a partner than men, and one woman dies every week at the hands of a current or former partner.

Why does it matter?

Violence against women affects victims’ well-being and prevents them from fully participating in society over long periods of time. Violence against women is estimated to cost the Australian economy $22bn p.a.

Domestic violence has a compounding effect. Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to be affected by violence as adults, either as victims or as perpetrators.

Family and domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness: 72,000 women, 34,000 children and 9,000 men sought homelessness services in 2016-17 due to family violence.

Source: (1) AIHW “Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia 2018”; (2) ABS 4906.0 Personal Safety, Australia, 2016; (3) Australian Human Rights Commission “Everyone’s business: 2018 sexual harassment survey”

Women’s health and reproductive rights

Where are we at?

Women face cost, access and legal barriers to reproductive freedom.

Why does it matter?

When women can control their fertility, they can control their future.

Women in all regions should have access to low cost, medically appropriate (for their bodies) contraception and legal abortion services.

Preventing unplanned pregnancy is an important public health goal – planned parenthood has health benefits for mother and child.

A survey of reproductive age women found that 26% had experienced unintended pregnancies in the previous 10 years.

1 in 5 women who have ever been pregnant reported having an abortion (potentially under-reported, due to sensitivity of topic).

More than half of women reporting unintended pregnancies were not using contraception at the time.

Criminalisation of health services that only women require, such as abortion, is a form of discrimination against women.

(Source: Taft et al (2018) MJA 209(9))

Source: (1) Shankar et al (2017) ANZ J Pub Health 41(3): 309-314; (2) Choice “Contraceptive options go beyond the pill” (2017);  (3) Children By Choice website; 


The Mary Lee Project

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