WHSN Combined Statement for 2024 International Women’s Day

Posted On: March 13, 2024

Since the commencement of our work over 30 years ago the Victorian Women’s Health Services have striven to address the barriers to intersectional inequity that prevent women from having the power and freedom to make choices and be emancipated to achieve their full potential.

Yes, in 2024 there is still work to be done.

The Victorian Women’s Health services welcome and celebrate the United Nations themes for 2024 International Women’s Day.

These themes draw attention to the ongoing need for women’s economic inclusion and the need to finance and fund the work of gender equality.

As we also focus attention onto the global negotiations occurring at the Commission for the Status of Women we call for the Australian Government, and all governments, to respond to what the UN is telling us – gender equality is at a crossroads.

We are not on track to achieve equality by 2030 and local and global crises, shocks and entrenched power make this less and less likely. The truth is that the economic and financing systems of Victoria, Australia and across the globe have goals that work against an equitable future.

It is crucial to recognise that addressing gender inequality transcends being merely a “woman’s problem.” However, the burden of remedying inequities disproportionately falls on women, yet the necessary funding and respect for this work remain insufficient. We continue to grapple with persistent discrimination and oppression, perpetuated by economic and social structures.

Beyond the entrenched pay gap, there exists a glaring “power gap” in leadership and decision-making roles. While Australia, and indeed all nations, endeavor to combat gender-based violence, we face mounting resistance and backlash against women’s rights and gender equality efforts.

Despite the overwhelming economic case for investing in gender equality, adequate funding remains elusive. The billions of dollars lost due to inequality’s impact on our economy, coupled with the intergenerational trauma it inflicts on our community and society, demand urgent and meaningful investment in addressing these systemic and structural challenges.


Women are still #SickofSmallChange.

As the combined leadership of the Victorian Women’s Health Service we call upon the Victorian Government to sustain the current funding levels of the Victorian Women’s Health Sector, with our sector work to:

  • Strengthen and have long term policy on women’s health and wellbeing including addressing the social determinants of health. Invest in specific resources and infrastructure for women’s health and wellbeing, with a focus on addressing the diverse needs of all communities.
  • Continue to invest and expand policy on gender based budgeting as well as the Gender Equality Act to non-government organisations
  • Ensure that all public hospitals and publicly funded health institutions apply an intersectional lens to their programs and services with a particular focus on the gendered impacts to those programs and services. This includes all health services that are in receipt of public funds to provide full evidence based services and referral to women including sexual and reproductive health
  • Invest in specialised infrastructure for women’s mental health and wellbeing to ensure that all women, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

The impact of this investment will be strengthened for all women if accompanied activities that address intersectional barriers to accessing resources, services and tools.

In partnership with the women’s health services government can:

  • Engage with the community to understand the needs of women.
  • Draw on existing research and evidence to design performance measures.
  • Integrate the services into the health system sustainably.
  • Develop a health promotion strategy to address the intersectional barriers that women face in accessing health and SRH services.

Signed from the leadership of the Victorian Women’s Health Services

State Wide Services

  • Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
  • Women’s Health Victoria
  • Women with Disabilities Victoria

Metro Services

  • GenWest
  • Women’s Health East
  • Women’s Health in the North
  • Women’s Health in the South East

Rural Services

  • Gippsland Women’s Health
  • Women’s Health Grampians
  • Women’s Health Loddon Mallee
  • Women’s Health Goulburn North East
  • Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West


  • The economic case for funding the Victorian Womens Health Services, commissioned by the Women’s Health Services from Impact Economics can be found here https://www.whsn.org.au/an-economic-case
  • A set of case studies illustrating the work and value of the sector can be found via the Women’s Health Services Network website here https://www.whsn.org.au/case-studies
  • A report on the collective impact and benefit of the Victorian Women’s Health Services (Small Change Big Impact) can be found here https://www.whsn.org.au/evaluation-report
  • A snap shot of key data, evidence and statistics highlighting the persistent prevalence of inequality globally and locally is attached to this statement.

Media Release to accompany this statement can be found here https://www.whsn.org.au/media-releases/iwd-at-a-crossroad.

About Women’s Health Services Network

The Women’s Health Services Network has been a driving force progressing and shaping Victoria’s women’s health and equality space for four decades. While our services were established and funded independently of one another, collaboration has been a strong part of our history. Today, the 12 women’s health services funded through the state government’s Victorian Women’s Health Program collaborate under the title the ‘Victorian Women’s Health Services Network’. This enables us to work as a coordinated, mutually-reinforcing statewide network comprising both place-based and


State of Women’s Equality and Wellbeing

A snapshot of evidence, data and statistics from the Victorian Women’s Health Services to make the case for economic inclusion of women, and funding and financing the work of gender equality

Globally none of the indicators for the Sustainable development goal on gender equality have been met:[1]

  • Strong legal frameworks can promote positive change, but despite progress, 54% OF COUNTRIES still lack laws in all key areas of gender equality
  • At the current rate of progress, the next generation of women will still spend on average 2.3 MORE HOURS per day on unpaid care and domestic work than men.
  • 4% of PRIME WORKING AGE WOMEN are in the labour force compared to 90.6% of PRIME WORKING AGE MEN.
  • Women are TWICE as likely as men to report instances of discrimination based on sex and almost twice as likely as men to experience discrimination on the basis of marital status.
  • The number of women and girls living in conflict- affected contexts reached 614 million  in 2022,  50% higher than the number in 2017.
  • 17% of inventors in international patents in 2022 were WOMEN, compared to 83% MEN.
  • 1 in 4 WOMEN AND GIRLS are expected to be moderately or severely food insecure by 2030.
  • If current trends continue, over 340 million WOMEN AND GIRLS will still live in extreme poverty by 2030.

Australia, and indeed Victoria is not immune to this.

  • In 2021/22, 4,620 women aged 15 years and over (average of 13 women/day) were hospitalised due to family and domestic violence[2] and is significantly worse for women with disabilities, migrant and refugee women and First Nations women.
  • 1 in 2 women compared to 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime[3]
  • 1 in 4 women compared to 1 in 13 men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.[4]
  • On average women aged 15-64 years do 55.4 hours of work a week (2 hours more than men). 7 hoursof these are unpaid.[5]
  • While attitudes to sexual violence have improved, rejection of domestic and family violence has plateaued in Australia[6] including Victoria
  • A significant minority of Australia’s agree that many women “misinterpret innocent remarks as sexist”[7] and further there is a persistent, significant minority of Australia’s still accept harmful myths and stereotypes about violence against women including that violence against women is a normal reaction to stress and frustration[8].
  • There are persistent negative attitudes and beliefs to gender inequality in the workplace including that men make better leaders[9]
  • 77% of Australians aged 15 or older have experienced sexual harassment at some point in their lives (89% of women and 64% of men) with 1 in 3 people being the victims of sexual harassment in the last 5 years (41% women and 26% men).[10]
  • In the last 10 years, there has been a three-fold increase in intentional self-harm hospitalisations for young girls[11]
  • Women do more unpaid housework than men even when they are the primary breadwinner. There is a  5 hour gap[12]
  • And there is a persistent pay gap across every industry in Australia averaging a gap of 7% or, women taking home on average $26,393.00 less than men[13] and contributing to women holding 23.1% less in superannuation.[14]

[1] Taken from UN Women and United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division 2023 Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: A Gender Snapshot 2023

[2] Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (2023) Family, domestic and sexual violence, Data tables: National Hospital Morbidity Database via Our Watch “Quick Facts” https://www.ourwatch.org.au/quick-facts/

[3] ABS (2021). Sexual harassment, 2016

[4] ABS (2021). Sexual violence – victimisation, 2016

[5] ABS (2022). How Australians Use Their Time, 2020-21, Table 6. Office for Women calculations from Status of Women Report Card 2023 Australian Government, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet https://www.pmc.gov.au/resources/status-women-report-card-2023#_fn10

[6] https://www.ncas.au/findings-for-australia

[7] ANROWS, National Community Attitudes Survey 2021 Attitudes towards Gender Inequality  https://www.ncas.au/findings-for-australia#AusAGIS

[8] ANROWS, National Community Attitudes Survey 2021 Attitudes towards Violence against Women https://www.ncas.au/findings-for-australia#AusAVAWS

[9] ANROWS, National Community Attitudes Survey 2021 Attitudes towards Gender Inequality  https://www.ncas.au/findings-for-australia#AusAGIS

[10] Australian Human Rights Commission Time for Respect: Fifth National Survey on sexual harassment in Australian Workplaces 2022

[11] AIHW (2021). Suicide & self-harm monitoring: Intentional self-harm hospitalisations among young people 2020-21 from Status of Women Report Card 2023 Australian Government, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet https://www.pmc.gov.au/resources/status-women-report-card-2023#_fn10

[12] Melbourne Institute, Applied Economic & Social Research (2019) HILDA Statistical Report Waves 1 to 17, p.98 from Status of Women Report Card 2023 Australian Government, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet https://www.pmc.gov.au/resources/status-women-report-card-2023#_fn10

[13] Workplace Gender Equality Agency Gender Pay Gap Data: How big is the gender pay gap?  https://www.wgea.gov.au/pay-and-gender/gender-pay-gap-data

[14] ATO (2020) Taxation statistics 2019-20, Snapshot Table 5, Chart 12, Median super balance by age and sex rom Status of Women Report Card 2023 Australian Government, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet https://www.pmc.gov.au/resources/status-women-report-card-2023#_fn10