As part of International Women’s Day celebrations, I attended a briefing by NSW Minister for Women Pru Goward on 6March. Being new to the role (since April last year), Goward is ramping up the Office for Women’s Policy and now has a very focused agenda. Goward has a strong pedigree in the women’s policy space. She was the Executive Director of the Office of the Status of Women in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (1997-99) and also the Australian Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner (2001-2007). She was also the recipient of a Centenary Medal in 2001 for services for women’s rights. Goward is now the Minister for Family and Community Services and the Minister for Women. She is determined to work on breaking the cycle of disadvantage for women and will work closely between her portfolios to do this. Goward shared her focused agenda for Women’s Policy in three key areas:
Reducing violence towards women and general family domestic violence.
There is an alarming upward trend of violence against women. Goward is implementing a number of initiatives to tackle this problem and is working with many NGOs to reverse this trend.
Creating a more integrated workplace by having more women in trades, more women in leadership positions (boards, executive roles, etc).
Goward thinks we have had some success in getting more women in executive roles and certainly in the white-collar world. However, the world of trades is another story. There aren’t enough women plumbers, electricians etc. Goward’s view is that a helpful step in having greater gender equality is by having a more integrated workplace in Australia. We all do still need more women on boards and in leadership roles as well, she says. And although the current percentage of women on NSW government boards is 38%, that figure has not moved in over ten years! This is another area she will address.
Research/data about women in NSW
Goward has commissioned a “Report on the Status of Women in NSW” which will be launched later this year. In order to bring attention to issues, you need to have facts. Empirical facts. Quite simply put, we need to know where we are starting from to know where we would like to be. I applaud Minister Goward’s approach of such a focused agenda. Women’s policy is a HUGE area and it would be very easy to look at too many areas and achieve nothing. I am thrilled that there is an influential advocate for women in NSW parliament.