The viral takedown of Australia's then-opposition leader, Tony Abbot, by former — and Australia’s only female — Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the floor of Parliament marked its 10th anniversary this month.
The speech, made in response to accusations of unworthy leadership, has been embedded in the minds of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people across Australia and the world, with the iconic chant “not now, not ever” transforming into the ultimate motto against gender inequality.
For those unfamiliar with her iconic speech, here’s a short snippet of Gillard’s now globally recognised take on misogyny in Australian politics.
"I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not. And the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever. The Leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well I hope the Leader of the Opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation. Because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror.”
To mark the speech’s 10-year milestone, here are five important gains and five significant setbacks Australian women have seen in the decade since.
1. Strong Showing of Women Political Candidates
In June this year, nine years of conservative rule came to an end with Labor’s Anthony Albanese becoming Australia’s 31st Prime Minister. The monumental shift saw a record number of women included in Albanese’s ministry, with 45% of the government's 30-strong leadership roles, and just under half of the government's 23 highest-ranking minister roles, going to women.
Previous Prime Minister Scott Morrison had seven women in his 22-member frontbench, a record-high act at the time.
2. Parliament Apologises for Culture of Abuse
Staying within the government sphere, another significant step in the right direction over the past decade came this year when Australia's top policymakers formally apologised for the culture of bullying, abuse, sexual harassment and violence within parliament halls. The apology was spurred by months of mounting anger after a report revealed over half of all people currently employed in Australia's parliament had experienced bullying, sexual harassment or sexual assault.
Over 60% of women parliamentarians faced sexual harassment, against 24% for their male counterparts.
3. Free Pads and Tampons at Public Schools in States Across the Country
Victoria became Australia's first state or territory to provide universal access to free sanitary products for all government schools in March this year. Queensland followed suit, as did New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia. Gender equality activists and advocates have long highlighted that a lack of access to menstrual products is a critical issue driving gender inequality, and that addressing period poverty could bring a new focus to issues like medical misogyny.
4. Victoria Makes Kindergarten Free for All
In 2020, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced kindergarten would be free across the state from 2021, a move he said would “make it easier for parents — particularly women — to return to the workforce as we recover from this pandemic.”
The economic and social fallout from the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on women in Australia, with women accounting for the majority of all job losses. A lack of workplace flexibility for women — who are much more likely to take on caretaker, unpaid and domestic work — is a leading contributor to the nation’s gender pay gap.
5. Australia’s Women Soccer Team Earn Equal Pay Deal
In 2019, Australia's soccer governing body, the Football Federation of Australia, and the players' union, Professional Footballers Australia, confirmed the pay disparity between Australia's top women's team, the Westfield Matildas, and the top men's side, the Caltex Socceroos, would be closed.
1. The Gender Pay Gap Continues to Grow
Despite progress in numerous areas relating to gender equality, Australia's key point of decline is a lack of progress regarding the gender pay gap.
The latest figures, from August of this year, show Australian women earn, on average, $253 less per week than their male counterparts — at a gap of 14.1%. Over the past two decades, this gap — the difference between the average salary earned by men in Australia and the average salary earned by women — has hovered between 13% and 18%. In 2012, when Gillard made her famous speech, the gap sat just under 18%, with the most considerable difference during the last decade occurring in 2014.
In late 2020, the gap sat at its lowest, at 13.4%.
Australia currently ranks 43rd out of 146 nations for overall gender parity, behind countries including the Philippines, Costa Rica, Namibia and Burundi.
2. Domestic Violence and Poverty Remain Unquestionably Linked
Progress to address Australia’s deep-seated issue of domestic violence has likewise been painfully slow going.
Women’s safety experts labelled 2020 the “worst year for domestic violence” in Australia, as the COVID-19 pandemic saw widespread lockdowns, rising unemployment, overworked support systems and intense financial stress on individuals and families across the country.
The rate of one woman a week dying at the hands of her former or current partner has remained unchanged since 2012.
Similarly stark is the continued link between domestic violence and poverty, with 90,000 women, out of 275,000 surveyed who endure abusive, violent relationships, revealing they had wanted to separate but couldn't do so. A quarter of these cited a lack of financial support and fear of poverty as the fundamental reason they could not leave.
3. Australian Men Continue to Rank Among Most Misogynistic in Western World
A report on gender bias and online abuse from 2022 found that Australian men hold some of the most misogynistic views in the western world — ranking well above the global average. Australian men ranked second-highest in the survey of 20,000 people across 30 nations, when asked whether they agree that men have “lost out” economically, politically and socially “as a result of feminism.”
Australian men were likewise the second-highest surveyed to agree that “gender inequality doesn't really exist.”
4. Australia Fails to Implement Majority of UN Recommendations
Last year, it was revealed that Australia had fulfilled just a quarter of its international obligations to advance women's progress. The tasks came from United Nations recommendations made through the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women branch, which Australia has long ratified.
Many of the nation's low- and middle-income Pacific neighbors performed significantly better.
Those with higher implementation rates include the Cook Islands, Fiji, Laos, Samoa, Timor-Leste and Tuvalu.
5. Australia’s Recognition Gap of Abuse & Consent Remains Severe
Damning data from 2020 showed that Australian society continues to misunderstand the definition of consent, abuse and violence. For example, the report revealed that, within the 18 to 34 age bracket, over 50% of men do not think constant phone calls or electronic spying count as domestic abuse. In addition, just under 50% do not believe controlling finances to the extent that an individual is dependent on the other is domestic violence.