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Major moments for women in 2018

Major moments for women in 2018

By Cassandra Charlesworth

As the heady excitement of Christmas subsides and we look back at the ledger of 2018, it’s a timely opportunity to ponder how the year shaped up for women.

The past 12 months brought some fascinating revelations, some tragic lows and a spotlight on women’s equality.

So, let’s flip back through the pages and recap three major issues for women that consistently hit the headlines in 2018.

#metoo

The #metoo movement might have started in late 2017 but hit its stride in 2018.

This was the year that brought more revelations about Harvey Weinstein, saw Bill Cosby sentenced to jail for sexual assault, and in Australia resulted in Geoffrey Rush and Craig McLachlan both subject to harassment allegations.

Then in November, NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley resigned amidst allegations he had inappropriately touched an ABC reporter.

Violence against women

In early 2017, the Australian Human Rights Commission noted: “Australia has a disturbingly high rate of violence against women”.

Little changed in 2018. In June, Australia awoke to the tragic news Melbourne comedian Eurydice Dixon had been murdered just metres from her home.

“Women must be safe everywhere – on the street, walking through a park, in their homes, at work,” PM Malcolm Turnbull noted at the time.

But they weren’t. In December, there was universal outrage when a video went viral showing a Fortnite player verbally and possibly physically abusing his pregnant wife.

Then just days ago, the heartbreaking story of Olga Edwards again hit the headlines after she took her own life. Ms Edwards’s two children were murdered by her estranged husband in July this year.  

And the violence was nothing new. After almost four decades, former high school teacher Chris Dawson was officially charged with the murder of his wife. The arrest came after two coronial inquests and multiple police investigations into Lyn Dawson’s disappearance from her home on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in 1982.

Politics

In politics, there was a growing focus on the gender divide, prompted by a vicious leadership spill. Former Deputy PM Julie Bishop began speaking out about the “boys’ club”, noting: "I have seen and witnessed and experienced some appalling behaviour in Parliament, the kind of behaviour that 20 years ago when I was managing partner of a law firm of 200 employees I would never have accepted.

"Yet in Parliament, it's the norm."

It brought an onslaught of similar sentiments from women on all sides of the political divide.

As news.com.au noted: Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi threatened to name and shame her workplace tormentors, Labor MP Emma Husar quit because of slut-shaming and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young claimed to have endured over a decade of rumours and sexual innuendo.

Then after flagging her intention to resign in August, Liberal MP Julia Banks officially quit the liberal party in November, citing bullying and intimidation.

“There’s the blinkered rejection of quotas and support of ‘the merit myth’, but this is more than a numbers game. Across both major parties the level of regard and respect for women in politics is years behind the business world,” she said.

So, what did we learn?

The report card for women’s issues in 2018 may not be glowing, but there is consolation to be found. This year has seen an avalanche of women prepared to speak out, with many raising their voice from lofty positions.

It has seen a focus on the roles women hold and the respect they are entitled to as equal contributors in modern society. Importantly, it has also offered the hope that the crimes of the past have not been forgotten, and violence against women is an issue for all - whether that’s verbal, sexual or physical. 

Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer with 20 years’ journalism experience. She loves a good old-fashioned story and getting to the heart of a great yarn. She’s also a mum to three children who have encouraged her to hone some secret skills. Nimbly navigating Lego pieces left on her loungeroom floor and creating stylish Barbie attire from all manner of household objects are just a couple of credentials she’s recently added to her resume.

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