Gender inequality has an impact on the lives of all Australians. For older Victorians, and more specifically older women, the impacts of structural and cultural bias experienced across the life course can be far-reaching and numerous. COTA argues that implementation of the strategy will only be meaningful and bring real change if government departments and business are made accountable in activities designed to achieve better gender equity. Impacts and outcomes must be carefully evaluated and measured against agreed standards for gender equality.
Older women are uniquely positioned to add their knowledge and experience to this debate and to the development of this strategy. There is great value in using peoples’ own stories to illustrate the nature and the consequences of gender discrimination experienced by women. Data is critical, but lived experience cannot be separated out from that.
COTA’s Gender Equality Listening Post conducted focus groups in 2016 to support the submission to the Victorian Gender Equality Strategy. We found that older women overwhelming agree it is imperative that their daughters and granddaughters are empowered to avoid the discrimination, barriers and gender expectations they themselves have faced. The Gender Equality Listening Post tour consisted of eight focus groups and a number of supplementary interviews with older women over February and March 2016. The following paper documents the lived experience and ideas of almost 60 women from their early 50’s to late 80’s on gender inequality over their lifetime. Participants were keen to share their experiences of gender roles and discrimination and ideas of what could meaningfully contribute to the development of a Victorian Gender Equality Strategy.