Sojourn in Balimo: beautiful people, culture & nature
Reflections on the borderland dilemma

Bumps on the road in the push for equality


NOOSA – The local newspaper where we're staying, Noosa Today, last week ran a piece from someone pushing anachronistic, sexist, mansplaining propaganda which I could not let pass.

In a published response in the same newspaper, I pointed out that we can all agree that no one – man, woman or other – should face discrimination, emotional abuse or physical violence.

However attempts to portray men as a victimised, marginalised and vulnerable group are a total nonsense.

Here are some real and alarming numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare comparing the impacts of family, domestic and sexual violence on women and men:

1 in 4 women have experienced emotional abuse by a current or previous partner. The comparative figure for men is 1 in 6.

1 in 6 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a current or previous partner, nearly three times the rate of men.

1 in 10 women have been sexually assaulted and/or threatened. Four times the rate for men.

The data for Papua New Guinea is harder to find but various surveys indicate that about two-thirds of women experience physical and emotional abuse in their relationships. Data for the abuse of men does not seem to exist.

In Australia, inequality also pervades the workplace. Australia’s gender pay gap is 14%. In May this year average full-time earnings for women were nearly $300 less a week than for men.

These facts are not, and should not be taken as, an attack on individual men. Nor do they mean we should categorise people using overly simplistic measures of goodness and badness.

However, there are structural inequalities and flaws in society which fail women more often than men, and which need to be addressed.

Instead of being defensive, men must partner with women to work towards greater equity for all.

That's an ambition I believe most people agree with and it’s a goal we are progressing towards.

In Noosa, 2020 saw the re-election of a woman to State parliament and the number of women on the local seven-person council increased from one to three, including the position of mayor.

These are welcome indicators that the Noosa community wants gender equality and more women in leadership positions.

My article has been well received in Noosa, with only a couple of men taking exception to it.

Gender inequality and violence against women are challenges Australians and Papua New Guineans must face up to and address. And if a few men's egos are dented along the way, so be it.

Ben Jackson is communications manager for a major international development program strengthening governance, education and health outcomes in Papua New Guinea. It includes an emphasis on gender equity and social inclusion


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