Full report to be launched at One Day Forum “Working Together for Equality:Moving Forward

 

Executive Summary

The ‘Working Together for Equality: Beijing+20 Review 2014’ study is part of the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the commitments made by the Australian Government and Civil Society to the advancement of women through use of the agreed strategies from the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) (1995), and the Beijing+5 Outcomes Document (2000). The purpose of this study is to measure Australia’s progress against the BPFA 20 years since it was agreed in 1995. A broad and interactive community consultation formed the basis of this study, with analysis of data from these consultations highlighting the key issues, gains, gaps and challenges for women in Australia in 2014.

This study builds on the findings from the 15[1], 10 and 5year NGO reviews of the BPFA and presents collaborative thought, analysis and advocacy for the advancement of women in Australia.

The issues and language highlighted in this study reflect the voices of 1,879 women and 151 men who participated in the review process.

This Beijing+20 Review is drawn from information gathered from Australia-wide caravans, an online survey and submissions from national women’s alliances, peak bodies, Thematic and Identity organisations and other civil society groups.

Throughout the research process the key challenge that was faced was the outreach to indigenous women. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance and other indigenous networks were approached. Reaching indigenous women requires longer timeframes, good communication, financial and other resources to ensure quality, inclusive engagement. These resources were not available at the time of this study and as such indigenous women’s issues and voices are underrepresented in this study.

The data collected was analysed against the 12 Critical Areas of the BPFA:

  1. Critical Area A: Women and Poverty
  2. Critical Area B: Education and Training of Women
  3. Critical Area C: Women and Health
  4. Critical Area D: Violence against Women
  5. Critical Area E: Women and Armed Conflict
  6. Critical Area F: Women and the Economy
  7. Critical Area G: Women in Power and Decision-making
  8. Critical Area H: Institutional Mechanisms for the Advancement of Women
  9. Critical Area I: Human Rights of Women
  10. Critical Area J: Women and the Media
  11. Critical Area K: Women and the Environment
  12. Critical Area L: The Girl-child

While JERA International was responsible for the coordination of the project, there were many other organisations; supporters, advocates and individuals who assisted JERA International to achieve the broad reach of this project.

This study received no government funding. Organisations and individuals conducting the study, participating in or facilitating caravans and/or the review process, undertook all resourcing.

The findings from this study are freely available for civil society and government information and advocacy. In particular the study deadlines were in anticipation of sharing the information at the Asia Pacific Beijing+20 Civil Society Forum (14–16 November, 2014) and the UN ESCAP High Level Government Forum (Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing+20 Review) (17–20 November, 2014), and the 59th Session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (9–20 March, 2015) where the 20 years of the BPFA is to be reviewed. Information from this study will also feed into the CSO Post 2015 Development Agenda discussions and contribute to background information for the Australian Government, ESCAP and UN Women.

The report is presented in four sections.

Section One contains the rationale and scope of the study; a brief background to the BPFA and reviews; Methodology and Conceptual Framework for the Study.

Section Two outlines the overarching context within which the study sits. The overarching context is divided into three parts; Inequality and Intersectionality, Feminisation of Poverty, and Working with Men and Boys. These overarching issues / themes consistently arose throughout the analysis of the data collected. Accordingly the study is contextualised by these overarching themes and they present strongly throughout the subsequent analysis of the 12 critical areas of the BPFA.

Section Three outlines the top four issues for women in Australia that arose throughout the study. These are:

  • Critical shortage of affordable, appropriate and safe housing (including emergency housing and shelters) for women experiencing violence
  • Increased economic discrimination and disadvantage as a result of the widening of the national gender pay gap and the unequal burden of unpaid care work
  • Shortage of effective and appropriate support services, funding, and lack of coordination between already existing services for women experiencing violence
  • Under-representation of women in all high-level decision-making and leadership positions within a broader cultural context of misogyny and sexism.

Section Four presents the findings of the study and outlines for each of the 12 critical areas the strategic objectives; the overarching concerns identified by the study for that critical area; and suggested reforms and actions to address these by government and civil society.

[1] Working Together for Equality B+15, JERA International