Working for Women: A Strategy for Gender Equality

Ambitious but concerns remain

On 7 March Katy Gallagher, Minister for Women launched Working for Women: A Strategy for Gender Equality at the National Press Club

The Strategy is ambitious and welcome. It envisages ‘an Australia where people are safe, treated with respect, have choices and have access to resources and equal outcomes no matter their gender’.

Working for Women is designed to drive the Federal Government’s gender equality policy formation, programs and initiatives and budgetary decisions through to 2034.

WEL and other feminist advocacy organisations will use the Strategy to evaluate the Government’s progress against our policy platform.

WEL has some concerns and questions which we will pursue with the Minister.

Accessibility to community use

Working for women is a long document which uses corporate and policy language. This may make it difficult to read and interpret - especially for people unaccustomed to policy analysis and interpretation.

There are no ‘vehicles’ (other than good will) to drive the Strategy’s emphasis on change at the community level even though it promotes the idea that ‘Every institution, organisation, community and individual has a role to play.’ 

In addition to current and future government actions, each priority includes a section suggesting ‘what others can do’.  Commendable references to the ‘collective action of individuals, families, communities, workplaces and institutions’ lack specific agency. The education system is barely mentioned.


The five priorities for action and change in the areas of violence, care, economic equality and security, health and leadership/representation omit other pressing challenges for women.

These include: the gendered dynamics of climate catastrophe; the need to encode women’s rights beyond a reliance on sex and anti-discrimination discrimination legislation; the inadequacy of the Social Security payments system to combat poverty- especially women’s poverty- and embedded gender biases in key government provisions and services, such as the social security payments system itself, Medicare and the NDIS.

‘Women’s Voices’

While the Strategy proposes to access ‘women’s voices’ during the implementation phases, it is unclear how the Government will tap into these beyond an annual survey.

The Women’s Alliances are only mentioned as contributing to the development of the Strategy. They remain seriously underfunded and WEL understands the 2024 Budget will not increase their funding. 

Intersectional voices

A strength of the Strategy is the explicit links with Wihi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Institute and the Change Agenda for First Nations Gender Justice. 

There is limited acknowledgement of the intersectional dimensions of women’s experiences and the challenges in accessing marginalised ‘voices’ from women with disabilities, LGBTQI+ women, women with diverse cultural and linguistic experiences, including refugee, migrant and recently arrived communities and working women living in poverty with insecure lives.

Independent oversight

WEL had anticipated that a new independent committee would replace the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, following delivery of their final report and the Minister’s announcement of Working for Women.

The Government (through the Minister) will oversee implementation of the Strategy.

It would be preferable to have an independent body to assist in monitoring implementation and provide ongoing advice during the implementation period.

States and territories?

There is no role for the states and territories in delivering the Strategy.

Since state delivered services, state institutions, state based legislation and regulations shape women’s experiences across each of the five priority areas, this is a puzzling and worrying absence. Especially so when other national plans, such as the Plan to Eliminate Violence against Women, have detailed state and territory implementation strategies.

Women's Electoral Lobby Au


Women's Electoral Lobby is a national, independent, non-party political, feminist lobby group working to ensure the rights of Australian women are protected.