Australian Office

Remarks by Representative Jenny Bloomfield at International Women's Day 2023 Lunch

International Women’s Day 2023 Lunch

“DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality”

Remarks by Australian Representative Jenny Bloomfield

9 March 2023


As is customary in Australia, I would like to begin by acknowledging all Indigenous peoples here today and pay my respects to their elders past, present and future.

This is my third International Women’s Day in Taiwan.  And it is wonderful once again to have so many distinguished leaders join us.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is, “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality”.

Or, as we call it in Australia: ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a Gender Equal Future’.

This year, we recognise and celebrate the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital and STEM education.

We are also shining a light on the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities; and on the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and addressing online and ICT-facilitated gender-based violence.

We live in a digital world.  But not everyone has benefited from these digital developments.  Women and girls continue to be excluded from fully participating in the digital age.

As the Executive Director of UN Women Sima Bahous has said, “The digital divide has become the new face of gender inequality”.

In fact, the digital gender gap has barely improved over the past decade.  

  • Globally, there are 250 million fewer women online than men, according to the OECD.
  • UN Women assess that women’s exclusion from the digital world has cost low and middle-income countries USD$1 trillion in GDP over the past decade.
  • And globally women hold only two in every ten science, engineering and ICT jobs; and in Australia, they still make up only 21 per cent of STEM graduates.

So we need to ‘Crack the Code’ , to give women confidence, to change the cultural, workplace and social codes and behaviours that keep women out and entrench discrimination and exclusion.

In this, education is critical.  Empowering and engaging women and girls in STEM education and careers, enabling their access to technology, and enhancing their digital skills and literacy, are key to reducing the gender digital divide.

Australia, like Taiwan, strongly supports gender equality:

  • We have an Australian Ambassador for Gender Equality
  • We are launching a new International Gender Equality Strategy, and Australia’s first domestic National Strategy on Achieving Gender Equality
  • We have a target requiring 80 per cent of Australia’s aid projects effectively address gender equality
  • We are one of three countries to have a National Domestic Violence Commissioner, and an eSafety Commissioner

           ○ and we are a founding member of the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse

  • We have an Advancing Women in STEM Strategy, and a Women in STEM Ambassador

           ○ in APEC, we have established the APEC Women in STEM Research Fellowships.

  • Women now comprise 57 per cent of the Australian Senate and 38 per cent of the House of Representatives; 10 out of 23 Cabinet Ministers; and over one-third of Australia’s largest companies’ directors.
  • We also have a female Chief Scientist and female heads of the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The Australian Government is also legislating to help close the gender pay gap by requiring all employers with 100 or more workers to publish their gender pay gaps on the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s website.

We are also reporting annually on our gender equality performance across government.

Taiwan too is a leader in gender equality and we are deepening our cooperation, including in APEC and in the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF).  We commend Taiwan’s significant achievements including a world-leading proportion of female lawmakers and local government leaders, an increase in the number of female Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and more women in business and in leadership positions.

Taiwan is also a global powerhouse in tech and the ICT industry.  And Australia is a key partner in these vital fields including as Taiwan’s largest energy provider and leading critical minerals supplier, and as a key partner in education and skills development including to promote women in STEM.

But for all of us, there is a still a long way to go.

And I would like to acknowledge here the important work of organisations like the Society of Taiwan Women in Science and Technology (TWiST),the Women’s Chemical Society in Taiwan, Women in IoT, and the Foundation of Women’s Rights, Promotion and Development.

For the past three years I have also been proud to support SEMI Taiwan’s Women in Semiconductors forum.  I believe strongly that women’s full and equal participation is key to addressing talent shortages in our critical industries and key to solving the many challenges facing our world.

As Australia’s Chief Scientist has said:

“We have urgent global challenges, and we need our best minds and our collective attention focused on them.  We will not come up with the right solutions if we are missing ideas from half of the population.  Science is a great career, and one where women can make a difference”.

Let all of us - governments, industry, educators, families – work together “to support women to follow their passions and change the world for the better” -  and “crack the code” to achieving gender equality.

I wish you all a happy International Women’s Day 2023!