Newsroom Archive: Mar 2014
26 March 2014
The Australian National Committee for UN Women supports today’s announcement that Executive Director Julie McKay has been appointed as Gender Adviser to the Chief of the Defence Force. McKay will provide General David Hurley with expert advice on gender issues, acting as his agent, and supporting programs initiated by the Services and Defence People Group.
General Hurley said today; “Ms McKay is a well-known advocate for women and I look forward to gaining her insight as we continue to work towards a more inclusive organisation.”
McKay has had involvement with the Defence Force as founding member of the Secretary and Chief of the Defence Force Gender Equality Advisory Board (GEAB), and has held the position of Executive Director at the Australian National Committee for UN Women since March 2007. In addition to holding an Executive MBA and a Masters in Public Policy, Ms McKay has been awarded a Churchill Fellowship to continue her research into workplace gender equality in non-traditional sectors, including Defence.
McKay will continue in her role as Executive Director of the Australian National Committee for UN Women, and will manage both positions on a part-time basis.
“I am looking forward to taking on this new challenge in Defence,” says McKay. “I am very proud to have led the team at UN Women NC Australia for nearly 7 years and am excited to be able to take on this new opportunity, supporting culture change within Defence, to advance gender equality. I have the highest respect for General Hurley and all of the dedicated men and women who make up the Australian Defence Force. I look forward to working alongside them to achieve their gender equality goals.”
“The role is a credit to Julie and her leadership on gender equality in Australia and internationally,” says Donelle Wheeler, President of the Australian National Committee for UN Women Board. “There is strong alignment between the work that Julie will be doing at Defence, and the work she has led for many years for UN Women Australia.”
25 March 2014
After two weeks of intense negotiations, the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women ended early on Saturday morning with a strong call to prioritize gender equality and the human rights of women in order to achieve sustainable development.
The Commission was convened at the UN headquarters in New York to address the challenges and achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in improving the lives of women and girls in developing countries. While the MDGs resulted in a reduction of poverty in some respects, the goals furthest from being achieved are those focused on women and girls—particularly on achieving gender equality and improving maternal health. With the MDGs set to expire in 2015, the Commission’s outcome document will help shape priorities for the next global development framework.
The Commission specifically called for a stand-alone goal on gender equality, a move that was applauded by governments and women’s rights organisations.
“A stand-alone goal on gender equality is critical recognition that gender equality and women’s rights are central to all aspects of development, and an urgent priority for government investment,” says Julie McKay, Executive Director of the Australian National Committee for UN Women. “A stand-alone goal needs to recognize the importance of targeting the root causes of gender inequality, including women and girl’s access to quality education, decent work, reproductive rights and their ability to live free from violence in their communities and home.”
The Commission also stated that the post-2015 development agenda must include gender-specific targets across other development goals, strategies, and objectives—especially those related to education, health, and economic justice. The Australian Government championed the inclusion of language calling for governments to address the discriminatory social norms and practices that foster gender inequality, including early and forced marriage and other forms of violence against women and girls, and to address the specific needs of marginalized women and girls.
The Agreed Conclusions reaffirmed the Cairo Programme of Action as well as the Beijing Platform of Action, which called for investments in “quality comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care” including emergency contraception, information and education, safe abortion where allowed by law, and prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and HIV.
The governments expressed concern that several critical issues related to gender equality were not adequately addressed by the MDGs, including violence against women and girls, harmful practices such as early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation, women’s and adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, women’s and girls’ disproportionate share of unpaid work, particularly unpaid care work, the gender wage gap, women’s equal access to and control of resources including land, women’s inheritance rights and women’s full participation in decision-making at all levels. The Commission also noted the specific and complex needs of women with disabilities and indigenous women.
Despite landing a strong agreement, Ms McKay notes that “it was disappointing to see that a number of conservative governments continued to object to concepts as fundamental as gender and the human rights of women throughout the two weeks negotiations”. She noted particular concern relating to a lack of recognition of the diversity of the family, sexual orientation and gender identity and the intersectionality of discrimination, which were ultimately left out of the Agreed Conclusions.
The Australian Delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women was made up of the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Ambassador for Women and Girls Natasha Stott Despoja AO and senior officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Prime Minister and Cabinet. The Government also included two NGO representatives on the delegation, Ms Julie McKay and Dr Susan Harris-Rimmer. Many Australian NGOs also sent observer delegates.
7 March 2014
The University of Sydney Business School is partnering with UN Women National Committee Australia in a joint effort to promote gender equality at the most senior levels of the nation’s public, corporate and not-for-profit sectors.
The unique partnership, which includes funding for an MBA scholarship and industry placement opportunities for undergraduate students, was announced by UN Women Australia’s Executive Director, Julie McKay, at an International Women’s Day event in Sydney.
Ms McKay told her audience that the key priorities for UN Women National Committee Australia were economic empowerment through access to decent work and the promotion of women to leadership roles.
“Access to education is crucial to gender equality and the University of Sydney Business School has an opportunity to influence the gender equality agenda,” Ms McKay said.
Commenting on the MBA scholarship to be sponsored by UN Women National Committee Australia, Ms McKay said she hoped it would attract the interest of women from across the country.
“We are looking for someone who really has leadership potential, who has shown an interest in promoting women’s rights and gender equality and who will work with us in years to come to promote women’s leadership,” she said.
Welcoming the partnership agreement, the Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Ms Belinda Hutchinson, said, “UN Women National Committee Australia plays a pivotal role in raising public awareness of gender and development issues impacting women here and around the world”.
“The MBA scholarship is a tangible way of empowering women through the opportunity to develop their leadership skills,” Ms Hutchinson said.
The partnership also provides two industry placement opportunities for Business School undergraduate students which will allow them, in Ms Hutchinson’s words, “to promote women’s empowerment and the need to end violence against women”.
Ms McKay said she hoped the partnership with the Business School would help to broaden the conversation around gender equality, particularly in the media.
“Effectively managing diversity, promoting gender equality at work and advancing more women into leadership roles across business are amongst the most critical issues for Australian business,” added the Business School’s Associate Dean, Management Education, Professor Richard Hall. “Our partnership with UN Women National Committee Australia is an important part of our contribution to progressing those issues.”
Co-Dean of the Business School, Professor David Grant, said he was “delighted” to be partnering with the National Committee of UN Women Australia.
“This partnership reflects the School’s long-term strategy to provide talented women with an opportunity to develop the skills that current and future generations of business leaders will need if they are to meet the challenges facing Australian industry and the wider community,” Professor Grant said.
Ms McKay described her own participation in the School’s Global Executive MBA program as, “one of the best things that I have ever done”.
“The Business School provides unique opportunities to learn from academics who are prepared to challenge students to think differently about the workplace of the future and what they want that to look like,” she said.
The Australian National Committee supports UN Women through membership programs, raising public awareness of gender and development issues and fundraising for projects around the world.
The Australian National Committee for UN Women also works to strengthen relations between UN Women and the Australian government and with other civil society groups in Australia and the Pacific region.