Comment Gender Inequality Laid Bare: Transparency as a Tool to Drive Progress, Ethical Leadership and Good Governance in Victoria
The state, in particular through its ability to enact legislation, has the capacity to either perpetuate or confront forms of systemic and structural disadvantage and inequality. Increasingly, transparency is being seen as key to designing effective equality law, and the ambitious new Gender Equality Act 2020 (Vic) (The Act) is a leading example. The Act seeks to break down outdated stereotypes and systemic inequalities—particularly those that relate to gender. Central to the design of the Act is its commitment to transparency. The Act mandates a level of organisational transparency about the advancement of gender equality that has not previously been required in the public sector in Victoria, or in the rest of Australia. This transparency underpins the ambitious objectives of the Act and is integral to the obligations it puts in place to drive progress towards gender equality. A focus on transparency serves four main purposes in accelerating the pace of change towards a more gender-equal society and providing leadership in this arena. Firstly, it functions as a practical tool to encourage knowledge-sharing and innovation along the path to gender equality. Secondly, transparent reporting of defined entities’ progress towards gender equality acts as a form of pressure to make material progress, instead of participating in box-ticking exercises. Thirdly, the transparency within the Act is a marker of ethical leadership, by democratising knowledge in this space. Lastly, a commitment to transparency is a sign of good governance; it both allows the public to access and interrogate public sector progress towards gender equality and ensures that government plays a leadership role in pushing for positive social change. The Gender Equality Act 2020 (Vic) is thus an example of how laying bares our challenges related to organisational gender equality can help drive progress towards a more gender-equal future.
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