The ACT Government has been issued with a fail on implementing its own gender equality program in a report card issued on the eve of International Women’s Day.
YWCA Canberra’s Leading the Change: The Pathway to Gender Equality report card, which assesses the ACT Government’s progress on gender equality since 2016, says progress has been slow on many key indicators, such as primary prevention for violence against women, workplace gender equality and sexual harassment.
Executive Director Frances Crimmins said the organisation saw gender parity in the ACT Legislative Assembly and the development of an ACT Women’s Plan in 2016 as positive signs, but that ACT women were still waiting to see real outcomes from year one of the 10-year Plan.
“It is concerning that the Plan remains unfunded, with no clear targets or evaluation measures to track progress,” Ms Crimmins said.
“The promised implementation of Gender Impact Statements and rigorous triple bottom line assessments with a gendered focus would demonstrate that the ACT Government recognises that gender inequality cuts across all areas of the Government’s work.”
The Report Card urges the Government to adopt mandatory K-12 Respectful Relationships education that exists in other states to combat violence against women and girls, commit to working with universities to end endemic sexual assault and harassment on campus, and increase funding for specialised women’s services.
It recommends greater resources for the Office of Women with transparent targets and evaluation measures implemented and applied across government.
It also urges a Gender Equality Act that includes tangible quotas and targets, and that companies be supported to introduce progressive gender equality policies and practices, including a gender pay audit, shared paid parental leave entitlements, domestic violence leave, reviewing sexual harassment and discrimination procedures, and preferential treatment for exemplar employers.
Ms Crimmins welcomed progress in some important areas, including funding to develop the Family Safety Hub and the introduction of a behavioural change program for men at risk of using violence.
The ACT Government has also made it illegal to discriminate against someone who is being subjected to domestic or family violence and criminalised the sharing of intimate text images without consent.
“YWCA Canberra have created this report card based on a belief that the ACT can be the leading jurisdiction for gender equality in Australia, and we will continue to monitor the implementation of the Plan and support the ACT Government to push for progress.”
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