How can we achieve gender equality? A vision for change


What can we do to reach gender equality in our lifetime? 

It is our belief that rather than fixing a system that’s already broken, we need to envision what it is we want.

As social change expert, David Gershon says, asking people to solve a problem is very different to asking someone to envision change: “in the former, outcomes will be defined by the parameters of the problem; in the latter by the parameters of people’s imagination.”

Much of the commentary and debate around equal pay, for example, has revolved around explaining the reasons for it. In our experience, most of us understand how the pay gap is calculated, and how it came to exist. But when women are more likely to earn $1 million less than their male counterparts over their lifetime, we need to do more than explain it: we need to transform it.

We need a vision that will provide women with economic and personal security over their lifetimes; that will see them retire with adequate superannuation balances and transform the beliefs that continue to undervalue their contributions.

As Prue flagged at the outset of this paper, our vision for gender equality is a world in which women can realise their full potential, personally and professionally, are equally responsible for the most important decisions in our society, and live free from workplace oppression and violence. A society where men can also be vulnerable, care freely, and work flexibly.

What will bring the breakthrough?

To get there within our lifetimes, we advocate for the adoption of two concepts: ‘dadirri’ and grace.

In Aboriginal culture, the term ‘dadirri’ means to practice deep and respectful listening to encourage people to explore and learn from their ancient heritage, culture, knowledge and understanding. While we can speak 150 words a minute, neuroscientists believe our brains can process up to 1,000 words a minute when we listen.

Imagine if we were able to unlock the power of deep listening in our workplaces, in our homes, in our workplaces and in our Parliament?

What would happen if the corporate, political and community leaders of Australia modeled - and - rewarded leadership with ‘grace’.

We love the term grace. And its one that means something different to each of us.

In our minds, acting with grace requires self-awareness. Grace inspires compassion, and reminds us to embrace vulnerability. Grace promotes justice, and encourages us to stand up for what is right and fair. Grace means using our power graciously so as to serve others, and acknowledging our privilege for the benefit of the disadvantaged. Grace asks us to listen to understand, not just to respond, because to act with grace requires us to place humanity at the heart of all we do.

Best of all, grace empowers others believe in themselves, encouraging them to build awareness of their own gifts, and to imagine their own potential.

That is our vision for change, and what we like to think is our superpower: the power to imagine. For as we like to say: if she can dream it, she can be it.

Join us this year, as we celebrate 70 years since the International Declaration of Human Rights, by reflecting on how “dadirri” and a dose of grace can empower you to achieve gender equality.

DiscriminationPrue Gilbert