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A Woman's Place Is In Her Union

The AEU would like to celebrate International Women’s Day with you today.

The AEU would like to celebrate International Women’s Day with you today. The first International Women’s Day was the initiative of German Communist Clara Zetkin in 1911. It has continued every year since then. We collectively remember the women who have struggled before us, the Suffragettes, the women who fought for equal pay and still fight, the women who fought for reproductive rights and still fight.

We'd like to celebrate with you: suffrage for Saudi Arabian women since 2015, Oman in 2003, as we recognise that Swiss women have been voting since 1971, and New Zealand women as the first female voters in 1893. Putting domestic violence leave in our Enterprise Agreement for the first time in 2015 recognises how pervasive and urgent the issue is to our union, and hopefully chips away at its stigma to help our society find viable and sustainable solutions.

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On Friday the AEU ACT held a dinner to celebrate women’s rights in the workplace. We were fascinated by a vital call to action about women, work and family in Australian history, by Professor Marion Baird, Chair of the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies in the University of Sydney Business School and Professor of Gender and Employment Relations. A delegation of members also attended the United Nations International Women’s Day lunch, a great opportunity to galvanise our members to keep taking action in our workplaces and wider social circles.

We have come a long way but we have many more battles in front of us. Please take with us the opportunity to reflect on the inequality and injustices still faced by women in our communities every single day. Domestic violence, pay and superannuation inequality, threats to paid parental leave, and the human rights of women in detention, are all clear and present dangers. Nine women have been killed by violence in Australia in the last two months. The average female wage in Australia remains 87% of the average male wage. Dog groomers make more per hour than women who educate our children -- read about the gender pay gap here. The same act that made Australia the second country to let women vote, in 1902, also disqualified Indigenous men and women from voting, and was not corrected until 1962. As long as there is inequity we must continue in our struggle for freedom.

 

We collectively resist because our struggle is far from over, and we collectively hope because our struggle is not just for ourselves but for our female students. The girls and boys we teach will lead happier and more fulfilled lives, the more equal women in our society are.

Yours in solidarity,

 

AEU ACT

 

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Women’s freedom is the sign of social freedom.
Rosa Luxemburg

 

There is no such thing as the voiceless,
Only the deliberately silenced
And the preferable unheard.
Arundhati Roy

 

I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.
Audre Lorde

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