Mind the gap: a century on, women still fight for equality

Adele Horin, Sydney Morning Herald, March 5, 2011

An inspiration ... feminist and labour activist Edna Ryan, who was one of the five women to organise the first International Women's Day March in 1928, at her home in Glebe in 1984.

An inspiration ... feminist and labour activist Edna Ryan, who was one of the five women to organise the first International Women's Day March in 1928, at her home in Glebe in 1984.

THEY were young, feisty and fearless - and equal pay for women was high on their agenda.

The five women who organised the first rally in Australia for International Women's Day on March 25, 1928 addressed several hundred people in the Sydney Domain about the rights of working women.

Equal pay is still the burning issue for the women organising events this week to mark the 100th anniversary of the first International Women's Day that was held in Germany, Austria, and Denmark, and is now celebrated around the world on March 8.

''We're still talking equal pay 100 years on,'' said Anne Barber, one of the organisers.

Full-time women workers still earn 83 per cent of full-time male earnings, earnings data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last month show. The pay gap is even bigger when overtime is included.

When part-time workers are counted in the comparison - and many women are obliged to work part-time in order to manage home and children - women's earnings are just less than two-thirds of men's.