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Working for Women Strategy overview

The Australian Government is committed to creating a better, gender equal Australia for everyone. Working for Women: A Strategy for Gender Equality outlines where the Government will focus its efforts over the next decade to achieve its vision – an Australia where people are safe, treated with respect, have choices and have access to resources and equal outcomes no matter their gender. This Strategy is underpinned by Australia's longstanding international commitments to human rights and gender equality.

This Strategy responds to what women and others across the Australian community told the Government in a consultation process involving thousands of people and organisations. The lived experience and expertise shared in these consultations made it clear that – while Australia has come a long way in recent years and decades – there is an urgent need for change. There are persistently high rates of gender-based violence, damaging attitudes and stereotypes, and gender pay and earning gaps. Women feel exhausted and under appreciated. They must be constantly vigilant about safety, take on the pressure of navigating work and care, and shoulder the greater burden of unpaid labour; all of which puts pressure on their financial security, independence and choices.

This Strategy is intended to bring people together and acknowledge that people have different experiences because of their gender. In large part, reaching a gender equal Australia means improving outcomes for women – to benefit all Australians. Across history, gender inequality has overwhelmingly affected women more than men, with women who are marginalised because of their class, race and other factors facing even greater barriers. The data clearly demonstrates this continues to be the case – and nothing shows it more than the epidemic rates of violence against women.

Gender inequality and stereotypes also constrain men, limiting their choices, supports, and opportunities. Men are also victims of men's violence, and experience poorer education and health outcomes in a range of areas. They can feel unable to take on caring or traditional 'feminine' roles in their households and communities, and can miss out on connection with their families and friends.Note 1

More gender-equal systems, structures, policies and attitudes will work better for everyone – women, men, people of all genders.

Key elements of this Strategy

This Strategy outlines how harmful gender attitudes and stereotypes are the foundation of gender inequality. It identifies 6 long-term ambitions that are needed to reach the Strategy's overarching vision. It then sets out 5 priority areas for action – gender-based violence, unpaid and paid care, economic equality and security, health, and leadership, representation and decision-making. It shows how the Government has already taken action to drive change under these priority areas, and where there are further opportunities to act. It also outlines principles to guide action that has impact.

How it fits together: the Strategy's approach

The priority areas in Working for Women are closely tied to one another. This Strategy recognises, for example, that women's safety cannot be separated from their caring responsibilities, economic equality, health, or involvement in decision-making. The absence of action in any of these areas will limit how far Australia can move towards gender equality, and how well it can work for women.

This Strategy does not exist in isolation. The Government has significant national commitments on women's safety and health, led through the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022–2032 and the National Women's Health Strategy 2020–2030. Working for Women draws these commitments together, along with valuing and sharing care, advancing economic equality and improving leadership and representation. It sets bold new ambitions over 10 years to better balance unpaid work and care, and close the gender gaps in pay, retirement income, and leadership and representation in Australia. This builds on the report from the Women's Economic Equality Taskforce and Working Future: The Australian Government's White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities. The Strategy will also support and engage with similar state and territory government plans.

This Strategy recognises that achieving gender equality requires effort across Government, and for gender equality to be considered in all aspects of the Government's work.

Monitoring progress

The reporting framework at the end of the Strategy contains outcomes and indicators that will be used to track the success of the Strategy over time. While there are a range of relevant outcomes and indicators available, this Strategy uses those that, taken together, will demonstrate fundamental shifts are happening. Under each priority area, the reporting framework also identifies the interconnected actions that drive change – these are actions that can be taken across government, employers, media, sport and the community that are necessary to achieve these shifts.

Achieving gender equality in Australia is a long-term goal – but it must be pursued with urgency to improve people's lives as quickly as possible. This Strategy sets a framework for action over the coming 10 years. The Australian Government's actions are focused on the next 5 years. The Strategy will have a mid-point review in 2029 where progress, focus and further action will be considered. This recognises that, while this Strategy starts with a set of priorities that are most pressing to address first, further opportunities to drive progress will emerge over the life of the Strategy and may become a focus for future effort.

Annual reporting mechanisms, alongside the periodic reviews will track progress and report Government's investments and efforts to drive progress towards the Strategy's ambitions and vision.

This Strategy endeavours to include data and analysis to demonstrate the outcomes experienced by different groups of women, including First Nations women, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, women with disability, women of different ages, and LGBTIQA+ people. There are, however, limitations to data in some cases, particularly small population or sample sizes. The Government will work to improve data to help inform better outcomes for all Australians, noting that this needs to be culturally appropriate and protect the right to privacy.

Achieving gender equality in Australia is a long-term goal – but it must be pursued with urgency to improve people's lives as quickly as possible.

How the Australian Government will use this Strategy

This Strategy will provide a framework for the Australian Government to drive gender equality through its policies and programs. The Government has already made significant structural changes towards gender equality in anticipation of this Strategy. This includes investments to improve women's safety, increasing paid parental leave and early childhood education and care support for families, and industrial relations reforms. It also includes committing to cost of living support through tax cuts – particularly for those on low and middle incomes, who are primarily women; efforts to address gender bias in the health system; and strengthened targets for women on Government boards.

This Strategy points to what more the Government can do to shift outcomes – including through the way it governs, its policies and investments, legislation and regulation, partnerships with states and territories, representation of women in leadership and as an employer and purchaser.

Core to driving gender equality is gender responsive budgeting. Gender responsive budgeting puts consideration of gender impacts at the heart of policy design and Budget decisions across Government's policies and investments. This underpins informed and practical decisions to close gender gaps. Gender responsive budgeting is a key tool to implement the Strategy.

How the community can use this Strategy

Gender equality cannot be achieved by Government alone. While this Strategy focuses on how the Australian Government can drive change, it is also a call to action for every part of the community. Changing attitudes and stereotypes takes more than Government action, and it will take a collective effort to achieve gender equality.

Every institution, organisation, community and individual has a role to play. This Strategy sets out the roles and responsibilities of different parts of society to take action and drive change. This Strategy is an invitation to all parts of the community and economy to focus energy, efforts and resources towards achieving the Strategy's ambitions. Collectively, everyone needs to pull together for a gender equal Australia.