International Women's Day is a great opportunity to acknowledge the great achievements of women and the progress made in terms of gender equality.
But it's still a stark reminder of what still needs to be done. It's not just about achieving equal pay for equal work and removing the glass ceiling; it's also about ending discrimination and pushing for gender equality in every area of our lives.
Men still dominate the startup sector in Australia. In October 2020, there were 355,000 registered startups, but just 22 per cent are all-women led — that's a rise of just three percent in 20 years.
Nicole O'Brien, CEO of startup community Fishburners, is familiar with statistics that show, traditionally, women are thrown into more unpaid and unrecognised responsibilities compared to men.
"This reduces their freedom to follow their dreams. We aim to turn this around and make sure our future belongs within a much more diverse and inclusive community. Fishburners aims to turn this around and make sure our future belongs within a much more diverse and inclusive community," Nicole says.
"We are empowering women with programs such as our 'Fempowered program', which works to upskill women of all backgrounds and expertise to build a startup and become their own CEO."
Founder of Family Calendar Assistant myWhānau
Michelle believes we all need more affordable services designed around improving productivity at home – as well as the recognition that this can benefit productivity at work.
"One of the barriers to gender equality is how hard it is to outsource household chores right now. It is just too hard, too expensive, quality is 'hit and miss' and parents don't know where to start. A key reason is because products and services in the marketplace have not been designed specifically around parents' needs; particularly mother's needs – this is what I'm trying to fix," Michelle says.
"There is another barrier I have found; I've realised that mothers tend to devalue their time compared to the dads. This is why more historical 'masculine chores', such as gardening and lawn services, have greatly increased. And yet chores more associated with women, such as cleaning, have only changed modestly. Research has shown that outsourcing is not related to the female income, but whether women's time is valued.
"My wish for IWD is something that we can control and that is to value our time more. And I'm working to ensure that we can make it easier, cheaper and quicker."