Continuing our partnership with UN Women Australia, Autopia attended this morning the International Women’s Day Breakfast in Sydney , along with 2,000 people, all committed to ending violence against women.
We heard some horrifying statistics and some frightening stories. We heard Australia’s Governor General, Peter Cosgrove, acknowledge “Violence against women is the issue of our time.” and we heard the former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, succinctly sum it up when she noted “Gender inequality is both the cause, and the consequence of violence against women”.
Two in three women in the Pacific are victims of domestic violence
However as Julie MacKay, outgoing Executive Director of UN Women Australia said:
“Today is all about hope, and courage to reduce the violence against women.”
Hope was delivered in two ways this this morning.
- The fact that there were so many leaders in the room all determined to change the world.
- One of those leaders – NSW Premier Mike Baird – announced “100% of all public service jobs in NSW will be flexible by 2019”
Whilst we acknowledge there’s no silver bullet in resolving the issue of violence against women, introducing flexible work practices (for men and women) is a great place to start. If flexibility becomes “the new normal” then we’re another step closer.
Courage was delivered by Sister Lorraine Garasu, who spoke of her work in building the Nazarene Centre in Bougainville, a shelter for women and children to seek refuge when in fear for their lives. And how heartbreakingly, sometimes they have to turn women away because they just don’t have enough room.
If there is a not-so-quick ‘fix’ to it all, it was identified by Tura Lewai, a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Network of Men Leaders, who spoke of changing the perception of masculinity in the Pacific Islands, and starting from the ground up.
“We’re not born biased or domestic violence perpetrators; we learn this behaviour. We need to relearn these behaviours, and we need to start with our kids.”
And that’s where we all have to start. If we want our children to live in a better world, then we need to start with education, and we need to start at home.
Thanks to UN Women Australia for such an inspiring event, and we’ll most certainly #faceittogether.