Why women’s organisations still matter in 2016


Margaret Thatcher famously said in 1982 that The battle for women’s rights has been largely won.”

We vehemently disagree.

No country in the world has achieved gender equality. Every day, we witness violations of women’s rights, discrimination based on gender, and a lack of women’s representation in positions of power.

Worldwide, one in three women still experience violence. This isn’t just in developing countries – According to Our Watch, 25% of Australian women have experienced physical and sexual violence.

Women remain severely underrepresented in government: globally, they make up just 23% of national parliaments. In Asia this percentage is 19% and in the Pacific: 16% – the lowest of any region.

This power imbalance cuts across all sectors in every country in the world.

Economic factors are one of the biggest barriers globally to gender equality. In 2016, female CEOs are still few and far between – according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, just 15.4% of CEOs in Australia are women.

Victoria’s Minister for Women has even highlighted that in Australia, there are more CEOs named Peter, than there are women.

Around the world, women earn an average of between 10-30% less than men for doing the same type of work. Women also perform the majority of unpaid work, which while less visible is critically important to society.

Too often systems are not designed to allow women to succeed. Gender inequality is perpetuated by both formal and informal systems, structures and attitudes. To achieve truly systemic change, laws, policies, behaviours and cultural norms must be radically altered.

We believe diverse women should have an equal say in, and power over, the decisions that affect their lives, their homes, communities and countries, in regional and international spaces. We believe women have the right to full and effective participation in leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and social life.

At our current rate of progress, it will take 170 years for women to achieve this equality around the world.

This is simply too long to wait and it is why dedicated women’s organisations matter.

Women’s rights organisations are led by and for women with the primary objective of working to advance gender equality and women’s rights.

Some of the most important advances have been secured through the efforts of women’s movements. Having gender equality as the core organisational goal allows organisations like IWDA to focus our energy and funding on advancing and protecting the rights of women.

Women’s rights organisations and movements have been central to building knowledge on gender discrimination through research, innovative concepts and gender-specific data collection.

At IWDA, we believe that supporting and working in partnership with women’s rights organisations and networks is crucial for achieving systemic change.

Women are stronger together, and local knowledge drives long-term solutions. That’s why we work with program partners that are all based in the countries where they work. Our program partners range from regional groups with extensive resources, to small emerging organisations where we are their only partner.

Women around the Asia Pacific region are leading change in their countries and communities, working to transform the causes of gender inequality. We work together with them to advance women’s rights across our region.

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