A University of Adelaide researcher says gender equality continues to be a struggle for most women around the globe, including those in the Western world, with key issues impacting on women including career and domestic workloads and the gender pay gap.
In the lead up to International Women's Day (Saturday 8 March), researchers say true liberation for women has not yet been achieved because of a lack of societal support.
"Every year I hear on talkback radio comments like, 'Do we still need an International Women's Day?'," says Dr Anna Szorenyi (pronounced: Sor-enni), Lecturer in Gender Studies and Social Analysis at the University of Adelaide.
"From my point of view, the day people stop asking that question will be the day when we don't need it. People are happy to celebrate Mother’s Day but are still uncomfortable having a day which celebrates women in themselves and all their activities, not just their care for others. That says something about how women are valued."
Dr Szorenyi says there are many issues impacting on women that prevent them from achieving true equality.
"If you speak to women around the world, no matter what their background or culture, the majority of them will be faced with the same issues: the gender pay gap, the sheer amount of work they're doing, producing enough income for the household, juggling career and family responsibilities, the double load of career and domestic duties they carry, and not being fairly compensated for all that they do.
"These are very large and critical issues but as a society we simply don't grapple with them.
"In our society, work has been seen as 'liberation' for women, but that hasn't come with liberated conditions. It goes beyond just the wage problem – we need to have a debate about working conditions, flexible working arrangements, domestic labour, and the redistribution of hours, to name just a few areas."
This morning, Dr Szorenyi was among the thousands of women to attend the annual International Women's Day breakfast held at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
"This is the biggest event of its kind in Australia to celebrate International Women's Day – but of course we needed to be there at 6.30am so we could fit it into our schedules! These are incredibly busy times for women," she says.
"There are 365 days in the year – being able to spend one of those celebrating women and discussing issues that are important to the future of our society is the very least we can ask."
Dr Anna Szorenyi
Lecturer, Gender Studies and Social Analysis
The University of Adelaide