It is no secret that women face a number of barriers that deny them opportunities to progress their career and achieve greater success. While some forms of employment, such as government legal recruitment, have put in place mechanisms that aim to counterbalance this trend, the Australian government is ramping up its efforts.
In a recent announcement, Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop outlined a new strategy to promote better opportunities for women both economically and socially. The aim is to foster equal societies and highlight the important of engaging with women and women's issues around the world.
The government's new Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment Strategy will deliver better economic outcomes, reduce poverty and increase development and security. The first-of-its-kind strategy is targeting three core areas:
- Abuse of women
- Empowerment through economic opportunities
- Participation in leadership
These priorities will be discussed with nations using Australia's trade and diplomatic engagement. The new strategy builds on Australia's commitment to gender equality within both the country's foreign affairs and aid contributions. One of the examples that Ms Bishop highlighted was the Gender Equality Fund and the aim of having 80 per cent of aid promoting women's issues.
The external focus is a show of strength from the Australian government that has made gender equality a focus over the last several years. Beginning with the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, which outlawed discrimination based on sex and gender, Australia has made it a priority to increase equality locally.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) is a prime example of the government working towards its target of a gender-equal Australia.
According to the WGEA, close to 35 per cent of employers have a scheme or policy in place that supports workers who have experienced or are experiencing domestic violence - an increase from 32.2 per cent recorded in 2013-14.
However, there is still much to be done. WGEA Director Libby Lyons said the figures show that there is still work to do to encourage more support for those experiencing domestic violence.
"Employers can make a real difference to employees experiencing domestic violence through targeted and appropriate support," she said.
"There is still a long way to go until support for people experiencing domestic violence is embedded in Australian workplaces, but it's very encouraging to see measurable progress being made."
With the continuing focus on gender equality, those in government legal jobs will be expected to continue the development of a legislative framework that supports and empowers women both locally and overseas.