Priorities of Kate Jenkins - Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner

November 2017

"The world will never realize 100 per cent of its goals if 50 per cent of its people cannot realize their full potential. When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all."

- Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General 2015


Over the last century we have made significant progress for women: increased participation in education and work; increased prominence of women in leadership roles in many spheres of life; adopting international and domestic laws to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sex. We have seen equal pay for work of equal value enshrined in law and employers required to report on the gender pay gap. Rape in marriage is now illegal and there is a National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children. We have sworn in the first female Prime Minister and elected the first Indigenous woman to the Federal Parliament. 

However gender equality is yet to be achieved in Australia. 

Despite Australia ranking as first for educational attainment for women in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Index, our overall ranking in gender equality has regressed from 15th in 2006 to 46th in 2016. Australia ranks 42nd in women’s economic participation and opportunity, 72nd in health and survival and 61st in political empowerment.[1]

My purpose as Sex Discrimination Commissioner is to advance gender equality, consistent with the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Achieving gender equality in Australia is a role I share with all of you. It requires collaboration across government, community and business.

Within the resources of the Australian Human Rights Commission, I have chosen to prioritise the prevention of violence against women and girls, women’s economic security and empowerment and diversity in leadership across the high impact settings of workplaces, education and sport. My role as the Sex Discrimination Commissioner involves a number of activities, including: education and awareness, collaboration and connection, influencing policy and legislation, research and projects, and international engagement. After reflecting on the current state of gender equality in Australia over the last 12 months, my new focus areas going forward are women living in rural, regional and remote areas, technology and a commitment to intersectionality.

This document outlines why I have determined these priorities and what I plan to do. But to be able to see any progress will require the collective efforts of us all. I look forward to working with you and alongside you to unleash the true power of gender equality for Australia.

- Kate Jenkins


[1] World Economic Forum, Global Gender Index, 2016.