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Groups suffering disadvantages in society: Women

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Throughout history, women have always been known to hold less power than men in society. They have always had the role of staying at home and raising children while their husbands worked to provide for the family. HohHowever, during the 1960s and 1970s, women started questioning their rights and status in society. Issues such as sex discrimination, workplace discrimination and domestic violence were challenged, therefore resulting in gradual law reforms and the emergence of many organisations and agencies. There are both legal and non-legal responses to the issue of women being disadvantaged in society.

Disadvantages and challenges for women

Women in Australian society face many disadvantages and challegenges, such as gender inequality, sex discrimination, domestic violence and sexual assault. Gender inequality is distinctly shown in the workplace and politics. In 2007, Australian Women earned on average 18.4% less than men and held only 7% of the most senior and highly paid positions in the workplace. Women also only made up 26.5% of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament in 2003. Sex discrimination occurs in

Legal Response: Domestic Legislation
The main government legislations protecting women’s rights include; Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), Women’s Legal Status Act 1918 (NSW), Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Cth) and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth).¹

Sex discrimination means to be treated differently or unfairly on the basis of sex, marital status or because of pregnancy. The Sex Discrimination Act aims to eliminate this in areas such as employment, education, goods and services, housing, superannuation and insurance.

Legal Response: International Law

Legal Response: Government Agencies and Organisations

Non-legal Reponse: Trade Unions
Non-legal responses to this issue include trade unions and NGOs such as the Women’s Electoral Lobby and Action Aid Australia.

Non-legal Response: Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)

Non-legal Response: Media


[ 1 ]. Cambridge Preliminary Legal Studies Second Edition. Paul Milgate, Kate Dally, Phil Webster, Daryl Le Cornu, Tim Kelly. Page 213-215 [ 2 ]. Sarah Stephens 2010 ‘Discrimination – adopting a positive action approach to sex discrimination’ Alternative Law Journal Vol 35:1 Page 36 Retrieved from Informit online [ 3 ]. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office of the Status of Women, according to facts from the Australian Bureau of Statistics October 2002 Retrieved from Issues in Society Vol 222 Page 2 [ 4 ]. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 13 September 2002. Retrieved from Issues in Society Vol 222 Page 11

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