“Privilege is invisible to those who have it” – Jimmy Kimmel.
I was in the mood for something wholesome and a few laughs. I clicked on a suggested video from his live talk show on YouTube. The thirteen million views and the title reeled me in; Kids Explain Why Women Are Paid Less Than Men. The camera-shy and slightly confused kids on Hollywood Boulevard uttered towards an idea that women don’t work as hard and weren’t taught how to do their job as well as men. A girl, around twelve, mic in hand, sporting some confidence started strong by saying women don’t have equal rights and group of people around the world should rally for them. Then the dealbreaker; with a good president like “probably Donald Trump”. Cue live audience laughter. A boy around the same age looks at the reporter deadpan and said women in the workforce are underrated because they can do more but people expect them to do less. My guy right here.
The 2021 theme of the worldwide Human Rights Day on December 10 is Equality: Reducing inequalities and advancing human rights. The United Nations proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. Gender equality is a human right. There has been progress towards achieving these rights within the school and social sector and in leadership, but without momentum through this pandemic, women will continue to be abused, the economy won’t prosper, and societies will suffer.
With all the unwanted effects of COVID-19, we may not have considered how women are more vulnerable to the economic effects because of existing gender inequalities. Women’s unpaid care work has increased due to school closures and taking care of the elderly. The figures back up the research; more women than men lost their jobs during the outbreak. While sixty per cent of jobs created since May 2020 have been filled by women, the effects are still rampant. The women who are unable to work are experiencing poorer health outcomes and gender-based discrimination on career progression. Women working within the health sector are one of the groups impacted heavily by COVID-19. The Australian Medical Association called the Commonwealth Government for an updated Gender Equality Act to ensure gender equality by increasing funding for parental and carers leave, flexible working arrangements, childcare, and domestic violence support. This Act has been passed in Victoria.
The other point of discussion is the increase in domestic and family violence against women in this pandemic. Many women (and girls) are in or have been in lockdown with their abusers with restricted access to support services and social distancing rules in place. Data from one Australian study showed that abuse experienced by women had increased and intensified in line with the onset of the pandemic. The UN put forth a COVID-19 response plan to mitigate the crisis on women which prioritises, among other strategies, to reduce gender-based violence, including domestic violence. Direct access to support services may be affected by the pandemic, but services are rapidly adapting and developing new ways to deliver services which the UN encourages victims of violence to use. In Australia, women and children leaving a violent relationship now have access to payments to cover essential items to establish a new safer home under a new trial scheme. The extra support has helped to assist women faster, especially those with more complex issues.
A human rights-based approach is the best way to reduce inequalities, increasing quality of life for the future and achieving the fifth goal of the 2030 Agenda: Gender Equality. The last girl in the Kids Explain video innocently says, “I don’t know, the world is just a messed up place”. I mean, she’s not wrong, but hopefully it gets better.
If you or someone you know is impacted by family and domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.