This year marks 40 years since International Women’s Year in 1975, when the Federation’s Women’s Program (then called the Women’s Action Program) was established with funding from the Whitlam government.
With women still underrepresented in promotions positions and many continuing to experience discrimination in the workplace, it is timely to remind ourselves how far we have come.
Some of the decisions from Federation’s 1975 Annual Conference give an idea of the circumstances women were working against. Federation was seeking to abolish or change:
- the requirement for teachers to commit to teaching anywhere in the state in order to be eligible for permanent employment. This caused women, who commonly take on carer roles, to form 80 per cent of the temporary teacher workforce and to miss out on important securities and employment entitlements
- requirements for women to repay maternity leave if they failed to meet the 62 days’ post-leave work requirement
- the low rate of women in promotions positions — at the time, around 33 per cent in primary schools and only 18 per cent in secondary schools
- the rate of a woman’s allowances being dependent on her marital status, in some cases paid to her husband
- pay increments being dependent on continuity of service.
This year, Women’s Conference will be held on Saturday August 15. As 2015 marks 40 years of the Women’s Program as well as 30 years of the Anna Stewart Program, the conference will provide us with an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come, but also to focus on how far we’ve got to go. So mark the date in your diaries. More information and registration forms will be available soon.