Office for the Participation of Women, Australian Catholic Bishop's Conference
Australians are today encouraged to join with people around the world in reflection and consideration for the particular challenges women face when they live outside metropolitan areas.
International Women’s Day is celebrated each year on 8 March and 2018 welcomes the theme of Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives.
The day will help give voice and support to the work, the rights and the activism of women living in rural areas across the globe. They make up more than one quarter of the world’s population.
They till the lands and plant seeds to feed nations, ensure food security for their communities and build climate resilience. Yet, on almost every measure of development, because of deep seated gender inequalities and discrimination, rural women fare worse than rural men or urban women.
Furthermore, 2018’s International Women’s Day comes on the heels of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. Sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women have captured headlines and public discourse, propelled by a rising determination for change.
‘The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day invites all Australians to salute women and acknowledge the rich support that they provide to family, community and Church,’ said Bishop Michael McCarthy, Bishop Delegate to the Council for Australian Catholic Women (CACW). ‘Our Catholic tradition honours the many ways that women minister and provide pastoral care.’
CACW chair Lorraine Barker said women who live in rural areas are experiencing a number of disadvantages, faring worse than men in rural areas and women who live in urban areas.
‘The inequality that exists across a whole range of areas is unacceptable and while it shouldn’t take International Women’s Day to put the spotlight on this issue, 8 March must be a day for us all to consider how we help correct this injustice,’ she said.
International Women’s Day 2018 is an opportunity to transform this momentum into action, to empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and celebrate the activists who are working relentlessly to claim women’s rights and realise their full potential.
Turning to an Australian focus, John Ferguson from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council said it was vital to consider the circumstances and environment for women in rural areas throughout the country.
‘In Australia, the impact of disadvantage can be exacerbated for women in rural and remote locations, where employment opportunities are scarce, welfare and health services are limited, and where family and social support networks can be stretched due to the tyranny of distance, population decline because younger generations are moving to metropolitan areas and the loss of social infrastructure.’