Friday 25 August is Equal Pay Day - the number of extra days after the end of financial year that it takes women to earn the same pay as men.
It spells out the stark reality of the gender pay gap that women work 56 days a year for free.
Every year, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) calculates the grim statistic using Australian Bureau of Statistics average weekly earnings data.
This year’s national gender pay gap is 13 per cent, a decrease of 0.3 per cent over the last six months. In Victoria the gender pay gap is 12.9 per cent (down from 13.5 per cent). Although we are heading in the right direction, that is still an average gap of $253 every week or $13,183 every year.
At the average rate of pay for women, this is the equivalent of eight weeks additional paid work (56 days).
It’s an issue that society has faced – and women have been fighting against – for many years.
Melbourne’s own Zelda D’Aprano was campaigning for equal pay for women back in 1969. She chained herself to a government building to protest against a ruling against equal pay for women, holding the iconic sign “No more male and female rates. One rate only”.
Zelda’s courage ignited a movement. Ten days later two teachers, Alva Geikie and Thelma Solomon, joined in the protest with Zelda. Together they went on to form the Women’s Action Committee, leading activists campaigning across Melbourne.
On trams they paid 75 per cent of fares because women were paid just 75 per cent of men’s wages and went on outdoor pub crawls because women weren’t allowed to drink in bars.
Zelda’s equal pay protest is immortalised in bronze in front of the Victorian Trades Hall in Lygon St as part of the Victorian Women’s Public Art Program. Sculptor Jennifer Mann created the work from the historic photograph.
Around the base is a quote from Zelda that reads: “Today it was me, tomorrow there will be two of us, the next day there will be three and it will go on and on and there won’t be any stopping it.”
As we remember Zelda’s campaign and note the Equal Pay Day figures, the Victorian Government continues working towards gender equality.
On Thursday 24 August, we launched Our equal state: Victoria’s gender equality strategy and action plan 2023–2027. One of its core focus areas is ensuring the economic rights and opportunities of Victorians are not limited by gender.
- Read and download Our equal state: Victoria’s gender equality strategy and action plan 2023–2027.
- Learn more about Honouring Zelda D’Aprano.