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Almost 6 in 10 Aussie women & non-binary people don’t feel represented on IWD

4 min read

Campaign by More Voices, More Representation finds close to 6 in 10 women with intersecting identities feel excluded from International Women’s Day celebrations in Australia. 

For its second annual campaign, More Voices, More Representation surveyed 202 women, trans, gender-diverse, and non-binary people, and found 59% of respondents do not feel represented at International Women’s Day (IWD) events, panels or in the media. The report will be launched at the “Count Us In – Diversity is Strong and Invincible” IWD event hosted by SSI in Parramatta, Sydney on March 6th.  

The 2024 More Voices, More Representation campaign, in partnership with SSI, brings to light the shortcomings of how 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.  

Out of the 202 respondents (of which 2% identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander), 100% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, 83% of women of colour, 83% of black women, 68% of CALD women and 67% of immigrant and refugee women, close to 8 in 10 respondents with a disability and 71% of people from the LGBTQIA+ community reported that they have felt excluded from IWD celebrations in Australia. 51% of respondents over 55 years old don’t feel that events and panels surrounding IWD have been representative of their demographic  

The top reasons for feeling excluded or not represented are that the women speaking at previous IWD events appeared to be from economically privileged backgrounds (52%), they did not look or sound like them (45%), they could not relate to the issues or the achievements the women were discussing at IWD, and that the women speaking at IWD events don’t think or communicate like them (29% respectively) 

The More Voices, More Representation campaign is the result of a coalition of 28 Australian advocates and organisations joining forces to help create an International Women’s Day that has greater intersectional representation to ensure all women are recognised, celebrated and represented and that more intersectional voices are given access to platforms for IWD and beyond.  

Women from CALD backgrounds make up a significant proportion of the Australian population. According to the 2021 Census, Australia is becoming increasingly diverse with 3 in 10 Australians (27.6 %) born overseas, with the number of people who speak a language other than English at home having increased by nearly 800,000, rising to over 5.5 million people.  

Read more: Implementing the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce Report benefits all

The three largest groups of respondents to the More Voices, More Representation survey identified as CALD women (46%), women of colour (32%) and migrant women (31%), and the majority say they had not felt represented at IWD in the past.  

“There is astonishingly little consideration given to the different facets of our diverse population’s identity and adjustments required to create inclusion and belonging,” said Astrid Perry OAM, Head of Women, Equity and Domestic Violence at SSI. 

“We’ve seen in SSI’s work to uplift women from culturally and racially marginalised backgrounds into corporate leadership roles that these women are made to feel invisible and unheard. This clearly extends to their participation in International Women’s Day and beyond.” 

When asked if there has been more representation of their intersecting identity across media, events, and speakers over the past 12 months, 34% said yes, 28% said no, and 38% said about the same. Of those who said yes, 60% said the increased representation has had a positive impact on them and their community, 1% said it’s had a negative impact, and 38% said it had not changed anything.  

When asked how Australia can make IWD more inclusive and representative of all women in Australia in 2023 and beyond: 

  • 19% said corporate and political organisations need to lead by example by showing greater representation in their leadership teams 
  • 19% 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 
  • 18% said having a more diverse representation of women at events, panels or in the media 
  • 17% said we need to bring together women with lived experience to shed light on the issues that women face, especially women with intersectional identities 

Tara Croker, proud Wiradjuri yinaa (woman) and Founder of Yaala Sparkling highlighted that when they include intersectional voices on IWD, they move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to gender equality and acknowledge the diversity of women’s experiences. 

“This is important for creating a world where all women have the opportunity to thrive.” 

Caroline La Rose, Senior PR Director at Vu Consulting added that this year’s survey results once again have shown that Australia still has a long way to go to change the narrative for, and representation of, women with intersecting identities at IWD events. 

“60% of the respondents who witnessed an increase in the representation of their intersecting identity across media, events, and speakers over the past 12 months reported it had a positive impact on them and their community. The benefits of representation are innumerable for society as a whole.” 

“It is time for Australia to make IWD more inclusive by adopting an intersectional approach which is representative of its population otherwise IWD will remain a day that mostly celebrates, recognises and uplifts white, straight and able-bodied women,” added La Rose.  

La Rose added that Australia needs to take the small steps towards making all women feel represented on IWD and beyond, by firstly increasing the number of diverse speakers at events and on panels and increasing the number of intersectional voices featured in the media. 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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