In 2015, working women started running “WRAW (Women’s Rights at Work) Chats” - conversations and surveys of working womens’ experiences.
Women from all across Victoria participated. We heard from women working in blue collar jobs and in white collar jobs. Women who lived in cities, in suburbs and in towns. Women who were at the start of their working lives and women who were reaching retirement. Migrant women. Women from LGBTIQ+ communities. First Nations women. Women who were working, women who were on a break and women who desperately wanted to get into paid work.
They all shared a devastating and familiar story:
Women are not safe.
Two thirds of us have experienced sexual harassment and gendered violence at work. One in five of us has left a workplace because we did not feel safe.
Women are not respected.
Nearly half of us have experienced discrimination at work. We do the majority of unpaid, unvalued work of caring for our parents, children and households. Our childcare is some of the most expensive in the world and our early childhood educators - mainly women - are some of the lowest paid workers in the country.
Women are not equal.
We do not have equal pay. We are less likely to be promoted and more likely to be in casual, insecure and low paid jobs. We retire with half the superannuation savings of men. We are more likely than any other group to end up in poverty and homelessness in retirement.
We are right to be angry.