Remarks at International Women’s Day Lunch
Australian Representative Jenny Bloomfield
14 March 2022
As is customary in Australia, I would first like to acknowledge all Indigenous peoples here today and pay my respects to their elders past, present and future.
This year marks my second International Women’s Day as Australia’s Representative in Taiwan. And I am delighted once again to be celebrating IWD with such a distinguished group of inspiring leaders.
The theme of International Women’s Day this year is ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’ - recognising the contribution of women and girls around the world who are leading the charge on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, to build a sustainable future for all.
Ensuring that we have a diversity of perspectives on these issues will be crucial to ensuring effective responses, and the role models we have in this room are evidence of the difference that women’s participation in realms that were once considered ‘male’, such as science, technology and engineering, can make.
Like Taiwan, Australia has committed to achieving ‘net zero’ by 2050, and we are supporting climate and disaster risk management policies and programs that are socially inclusive and gender-responsive - acknowledging that women, girls, Indigenous peoples, and people with a disability, are amongst those most affected by disasters and the impacts of climate change.
Gender equality is a critical component of Australia’s international engagement, and we contribute over US$1 billion each year to support gender equality across our development program, with a focus on responding to the interests and needs of women and girls. We work particularly closely with our Pacific family, and I acknowledge and thank all of our inspiring Pacific ambassadors and representatives here today for their friendship and support.
Taiwan is a leader in gender equality, and we are deepening our cooperation. Last year, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, the United States, and Canada partnered to co-host a workshop on Women’s Participation in Public Life under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, or GCTF, of which Australia is now a full partner.
And Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand, the United States, and since last year also Canada, co-fund the APEC Women and Economy Sub-fund, providing ongoing support to boost women’s economic participation across our region.
Events like today are a great opportunity for us to come together and reflect on our achievements.
At our International Women’s Day lunch last year, I was proud to announce that women occupied almost half of all positions on Australian Government boards, but women now hold the majority of these positions. More than half of our senators are women; more than 34 per cent of the largest companies’ directors are women; Australian women’s workforce participation rates are at an all-time high; and the gender pay gap continues its downward trend.
I know of course that Taiwan also has much to be proud of – including a world-leading proportion of female lawmakers, some of whom are here today.
These achievements are very important, but we know that there is a long way to go. Cultural issues, biases and stereotyping, inflexible workplaces and attitudes, can all prevent women’s full participation. We need to work even closer together to address these barriers, challenge gender stereotypes, and provide practical support – through upskilling, mentorship, improving networks and support systems, and empowering women and girls – to help ensure that all of us, men and women, have the opportunity to excel and achieve our full potential, and fully contribute to our economy and society.
Today gives us an opportunity to meet and discuss these important issues with our colleagues and fellow women leaders, and reflect on the important work that is still to be done.
Let’s all seize that opportunity, enjoy this time here today, and take forward our shared goals, together.