1. The Australian Council of Trade Unions is the peak body representing almost two million working Australians.  The ACTU and its affiliated unions have a long and proud history of representing women workers and advocating for pay equity. 

  2. We welcome the opportunity provided to make this submission to the Senate Inquiry into Gender segregation in the workplace and its impact on women’s economic equality.

  3. Gender segregation remains a stubborn feature of our labour market. Women are more likely to work in lower paid roles and lower paid fields, are more likely to work part-time or casually, and are more likely to take breaks from paid employment to provide unpaid care for others. Over their lifetimes, as a consequence, they will earn significantly less than men.

  4. The gender pay gap in Australia has not shifted in two decades and the economic disparity between women and men around the world is rising. The World Economic Forum estimated that at current rates, it would take another 170 years to close the global pay gap between men and women. This injustice must not be allowed to continue.

  5. Legislative reform to address the historic undervaluation of women’s work and structural inequalities that sustain wage inequality is urgently needed.

  6. Numerous government reports and academic studies have shown that reducing the gender pay gap and increasing women’s participation is in Australia’s economic interest. Moreover, recognition of women’s rights as human rights demands that we redouble efforts to achieve equality at work.

  7. In this submission, we propose measures to recognise and reward care work, address discrimination, harassment and violence against women, and promote pay equity.

  8. The ACTU supports the submissions and recommendations made by our affiliates to this inquiry.