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Media Release: From gender-based violence to gender pay gaps, new research finds that awareness of how gender inequality impacts women and girls is still shockingly low in Australia

Plan International Australia 5 mins read


Friday 8th March, 2024: For immediate release


Press release 


From gender-based violence to gender pay gaps, new research finds that awareness of how gender inequality impacts women and girls is still shockingly low in Australia


New research by Plan International Australia, released as the world marks International Women’s Day has revealed that awareness of how gender inequality manifests in some of the most devastating ways in Australia – and in more vulnerable contexts overseas - is alarmingly low.

Almost half of Australians (47%) surveyed in Plan International Australia’s Gender Compass research said they do not believe that physical and non-physical violence against women is extremely common.

Violence against women is a serious and widespread problem in Australia – with two in five Australian women having experienced violence firsthand since the age of 15. On average, one woman is killed a week in Australia by a former or current partner, according to Our Watch.

And despite women being the most over represented group when it comes to homelessness – only 45% of Australians surveyed in the Gender Compass believe this to be true.

Only 2 in 10 (21%) of Australians are aware that medical research in Australia has studied men’s health more than women’s.

Almost six in 10 Australians think we have, in fact, already achieved gender equality in Australia.

These new statistics are being released today in a second installment of Plan International Australia’s groundbreaking Gender Compass research: a first of its kind study revealing what ordinary Australians really think about gender equality.

The UN theme for this year’s IWD is “Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress” - with the day set aside in this year’s UN calendar to “examine the pathways to greater economic inclusion for women and girls everywhere.”

However, when it comes to how inequality plays out in the workplace and politics, the Gender Compass findings on gender equality awareness revealed that:

  • Almost four in 10 (37%) Australians aren’t aware that there is a gender pay gap in Australia.
  • More than a third of people (34%) were not aware that senior positions in business/industry in Australia are dominated by men
  • Around the same amount (34%) do not believe that women do the bulk of unpaid labour in households.
  • Close to half of Australians (48%) do not agree that women are typically underrepresented in politics.


“Our Gender Compass findings highlight the importance of moments like International Women’s Day in continuing to drive critical awareness and action towards gender equality. We need to have conversations about gender equality with Australians in a way that they can understand to make a difference. The impacts and negative effects of gender inequality are invisible to too many Australians,” said Plan International Australia CEO Susanne Legena.

With the Australian Government today releasing the country’s first ever strategy for gender equality, alongside its second annual Status of Women Report Card, now is a critical time to accelerate progress on gender quality.

As one of Australia’s leading humanitarian and girls’ rights organisations, Plan International Australia works to build a world where we are all equal. Together with research, civil society and philanthropic partners, Plan International Australia developed Gender Compass to reveal the prevailing views on gender equality, who holds them, and what drives them. The hope is that this will lead to more targeted and effective communications and advocacy efforts by individuals and organisations working to advance gender equality everywhere – particularly in more vulnerable countries overseas, where progress on gender equality is even more fractured.

Aseel, a 22-year-old Palestinian young woman that Plan International supports said that on International Women’s Day, she is calling for a future where every young person was safe, where women and children were not the target of wars and conflict, and where all children, and especially girls, have access to an equal education.

“The right to an education is sacred. No schools should ever be bombed, no teacher should ever be the target of attacks. No war should make children miss a whole school year, or go hungry and cold,” she said.

“The world is getting hotter, conflicts are erupting at a rate we haven’t witnessed in generations and extreme poverty is on the rise – and the risks of gender-based violence are only heightened during crises like these,” added Ms Legena.


“In Sudan, UN estimates state 4.2 million girls and women are at risk of gender-based violence with that expected to increase to 6.9 million this year. Right now in Gaza, women and girls are being killed and injured in unprecedented and unspeakable ways. The death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 30,000 people in five months – more than 70 per cent of them women and children. Two years on since conflict escalated in Ukraine, gender-based violence has sky-rocketed. In Haiti, which has just declared a state of emergency, a new Plan International study found increased incidents of rape and child early and forced marriage amongst adolescent girls.

For girls around the world, who were already disproportionately affected by these issues and held back because of their gender, there is so much at stake. The fear of physical, sexual, and emotional violence is inescapable.  We cannot look away,” she said.

“Current projections indicate that the next five generations of girls and women will never see gender equality. Everyone should be alarmed by this. We need to do better. This International Women’s Day, we want to see a future where girls can live without fear of violence and discrimination.  We must come together to beat the clock on gender inequality, until we are all equal in this world.”


Notes to editors:

Gender Compass (available here) was developed by Plan International Australia with funding from Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Trawalla Foundation and Minderoo Foundation.Segmentation data was generated from an online survey of 2522 members of the Australian public aged 16 years and older. The survey ran from 8 June – 16 July 2023.The Gender Compass steering committee includes: Care Australia, Oxfam Australia, IWDA, ActionAid, Fair Agenda, Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, Women with Disabilities Australia, Equality Rights Alliance, along with academic advisors Professor Rae Cooper AO (The University of Sydney), Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill (The University of Sydney) and Associate Professor Ramona Vijeyarasa, Faculty of Law (University of Technology Sydney)

For further information or interview requests, please contact: 

Claire Knox, Plan International Australia Media Manager: 0452326549;


About Plan International Australia

Plan International Australia is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. We believe in the power and potential of every child but know this is often suppressed bypoverty, violence, exclusion, and discrimination. And it is girls who are most affected. Working together with children, young people, supporters, and partners, we strive for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges girls and vulnerable children face. We support children’s rights from birth until they reach adulthood, and we enable children to prepare for and respond to crises and adversity. We drive changes in practice and policy at local, national, and global levels using our reach, experience, and knowledge. For over 85 years, we have rallied other determined optimists to transform the lives of all children in more than 80 countries. We won’t stop until we are all equal.

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