By Fiona Craig, Founder, SmartWomen Connect

I’ve coached professional women for close to 9 years now. I’ve heard stories, so many stories. Stories that continue to shock me to the core.

There are the many stories of women being made redundant while on maternity leave (Backed up by the WGEA in 2018 reporting that 1 in 5 women indicated their role had been made redundant, restructured or their contract not renewed while on maternity leave).

There is the story of a client being asked by a senior executive if she was “going shopping” when she left the office at 2.30pm to pick up their children (as per their contracted hours).

I’ve been told about sexual harassment and bullying at work.

I’ve had women confide in me about abusive partners at home.

I’ve had countless women tell me how they have been asked about their “family plans” during interviews.

I have lost track of how many clients have been put on the “mummy” track when they come back from maternity leave.

And recently, within two weeks of each other, I’ve had two senior female clients tell me that they have been asked why they need to work anyway given they have such a successful and wealthy husband (one in an interview, one by their employer).

If I was making a movie of these stories, it would fall into the horror genre.

Even with all these stories, I’m a really positive person. I see the good in people, and generally manage to recognise the upside of most situations.

I believe in celebrating success, in taking time to reflect on how far we have come.

Today, International Women’s Day 2019, is a day to do just that, but more importantly it’s a day to also recognise and listen to these stories – to ALL of the stories – and to reflect on just how far we have got to go, and for each of us to resolve to play our part in creating #BalanceforBetter.

Because the facts speak for themselves, and we’ve got a big job ahead of us…

  • According to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Gap Report we remain 202 years off gender parity.
  • On average, Australian women have to work an extra 56 days a year to earn the same pay as men for doing the same work.
  • The national gender pay gap has lowered, but it’s still 14.1%.
  • Women only make up 7% of CEOs in the ASX200
  • Women will have on average approximately 60% of the superannuation that men do, on retirement. Older women are one of the highest growing sectors experiencing homelessness.
  • 1 in 2 women will experience sexual harassment in their lifetime (#metoo – you too?).
  • 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual abuse from age 15.
  • 1 in 5 women have experienced violence by a partner since age 15.

There are many, many more facts that impact the progress we are making.

It’s easy to throw up our hands and decide that the problem is too big to be solved.

We know we have so much to do. We can’t take our eye off the ball. As journalist and passionate advocate for gender equality (and the fantastic facilitator of our SmartWomen Connect IWD panel Breakfast this week) Georgina Dent says in her article for Women’s Agenda this week:

”Women don’t need a pedestal for one day. We need equality. Every Day.”

But there is one thing that I know for sure, based on the women who have bared their souls and shared their frustrations, fears, hopes and dreams with me over the last few years.

Women are STRONG. Women are RESILIENT. Women are BRAVE.

You may be tired of hearing that. Some days, most days perhaps, it’s the last thing you want to hear. But never forget it. We are stronger together, and along with the men in our lives who support us, we can and will make a difference for the generations that will come after us, just as those that came before us did.

Our Pledge

At SmartWomen our pledge today on International Women’s day and EVERY day is to help organisations and individuals achieve #BalanceforBetter by providing a community and platform that educates, informs and lifts women up and propels them in their chosen career.

What’s your pledge? Let’s all work together to achieve #BalanceforBetter sooner, rather than later.


A poem written by SmartWomen member Yolanda Isabel Regueira Marin. Thank you Yolanda.