A recent nationwide survey of 419 women, trans or gender-diverse and non-binary people revealed that 69.4% of respondents do not feel represented at events, panels or in the media. Half of the respondents indicated having at least two intersecting identities and being from racialised, minoritised or marginalised communities such as First Nations, refugees, people with a disability, women of colour, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD), and LGBTQIA+, amongst others.
The More Voices, More Representation campaign is the result of a coalition of 25 Australian advocates and organisations joining forces to help create greater intersectional representation to ensure all women are recognised, celebrated and represented on that day and beyond and that more intersectional voices are given access to platforms.
The campaign has launched with a survey of 419 women, trans or gender diverse women and non-binary people, with 4.8% identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander brought to light the shortcomings of how events such as IWD is approached and celebrated in Australia and how the month-long celebrations across the country are not reflective of Australia’s diverse population of women.
According to the 2021 Census, Australia is becoming increasingly diverse with 3 in 10 Australians (27.6 %) born overseas and the number of people who speak a language other than English at home has increased by nearly 800,000, rising to over 5.5 million people. Women from CALD backgrounds make up a significant proportion of the Australian population.
The three largest groups of respondents to the More Voices, More Representation survey identified as women of colour (54%), CALD women (52%) and immigrant women (42%), and the majority did not feel that IWD has been representing them in the past. 83% of women of colour, 79% of CALD women and 75% of immigrant women reported that they have felt excluded from IWD celebrations in Australia, the top reasons being that the women speaking at previous IWD events appeared to be from economically privileged backgrounds, had more opportunities and access to networks and that they did not look or sound like them.
Brenda Gaddi, Founder and Managing Director, Women of Colour Australia commented, “Whilst these statistics are not at all surprising, they are still depressing to hear. We all need to do better. My invitation to our allies is to show up and stand up for First Nations Women and Women of Colour. If you are invited to an event and it is not diverse and inclusive, bring it up to the organisers, question them about it, give up your speaking spot for a First Nations woman or a Woman of Colour, or just say no. Being an ally is about using your power and privilege to call out inequities and inequalities”.
While the issues surrounding gender equality are well documented, there is very little conversation or advocacy for the advancement of women with intersecting identities on, or outside of IWD. Around 1 in 6 (18%) people in Australia – or about 4.4 million – have a disability and yet of the 19% of respondents who identified as having a disability, 75% reported that there was no representation of their community on IWD.
Key findings from the survey include:
- Only the Aboriginal women who celebrated IWD within their own community felt represented on IWD. 27% of Aboriginal women reported not feeling like IWD in the past years have celebrated or honoured them.
- 83% of women of colour, 79% of CALD women and 75% of immigrant women reported that they have felt excluded from IWD celebrations in Australia.
- 54% of respondents over 55 years old don’t feel that events and panels surrounding IWD have been representative of their demographic so far.
When asked how Australia can make IWD more inclusive and representative of all women in Australia in 2023 and beyond, 31% of respondents said there need to be more women with lived experience to shed light on the issues that women face, especially women with intersectional identities. 20% suggested that IWD events need to empower participation on panels and at events by paying Indigenous, Black, Women of Colour and non-binary folk for their labour, time and expertise.
Larissa Minniecon, a Kabi Kabi, Gureng Gureng, Ambryn and Torres Strait Islander woman part of the we are the mainstream collective said, “We, the First Nations women have survived alongside the fringes of this nation for over 200 years, we have sacrificed our lives, our bodies, and our voices, for our passionate plea for land rights within this country, now called Australia. Through a First Nations woman, our 60,000-year-old bloodline will never be broken, our bodies are an act of resistance to colonisation, and our very existence is a threat to the Australian identity. In this country, we are the most traumatised and unrecognised race and gender, in the world, so how do I create an alternative narrative where our voice is legitimate? By inviting them to the table and creating spaces for them to have a courageous conversation for truth-telling and truth-listening that centers the First Nation woman’s voice as the mantle and the expression of representation in all IWD events.”
Mylan Vu, Managing Director and Founder of Vu Consulting added, “The survey results indicate the need for Australia to shift the conversations around and representation of, women with intersecting identities at IWD events. Unless Australia celebrates IWD with an intersectional approach which is representative of its population, IWD will remain a day mostly for white, straight and able-bodied women. The results show there is no silver bullet solution, but as a starting point for all women to feel represented on IWD and beyond, we need to make a collaborative effort to increase the number of diverse speakers at events and on panels and increase the number of intersectional voices featured in the media around IWD 2023”.
For more information about the More Voices, More Representation survey and campaign, click here.