A decision by top female political leaders to snub the biggest women’s march in Australian history has been labelled as ‘absolutely devastating’ by organisers.
Tens of thousands of women are expected to march across 40 metropolitan areas in Australia from midday on Monday to demand an end to gendered violence, inequality, and misogyny in the workplace.
The march has been dubbed the biggest uprising of women that Australia has ever seen and comes in the wake of rape allegations levelled at Attorney-General Christian Porter, which he denies, and a former Liberal staffer.
Despite claims against parliamentarians, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, opposition leader Jodi McKay and the state and federal ministers for women Bronnie Taylor and Marise Payne will not go to the rallies in Canberra or at Sydney Town Hall.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) will not be attending the historic March 4 Justice on Monday
Pictured: Western Australians rallying for women’s right in Perth on Sunday. Demonstrations will be held across the nation on Monday
Organiser Janine Hendry believes the leaders decisions to forfeit the demonstration is akin to saying women’s right are not important.
‘In light of what’s happening, not only in Parliament but other major institutions, when our very own representatives don’t want to hear our voice, what does that say about how they really think about women?,’ she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘It’s saying we don’t matter, and they don’t want to hear our voices and that’s not OK.’
A petition by protesters, which has more than 22,000 signatures, calls for full investigations of gendered violence and for the full list of 55 recommendations by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner report to be implemented.
NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay will not attend the women’s rights event in Sydney on Monday
Liberal candidate for Bass Bridget Archer (pictured) is the only female MP to say she will march alongside Australians
Ms Payne told organisers she will receive the petition ‘via correspondence’ rather than in person.
A spokeswoman for the minister said she was not invited to join the Sydney rally, but that she is is ‘always keen’ to meet with women and discuss their concerns.
The only female Liberal politician to confirm attendance is Tasmanian MP Bridget Archer, who was asexually abused as a child, will march alongside Australians in Canberra.
‘I have pledged to do more to address violence against women,’ she said, according to the publication.
‘It is time for change – as a parliamentarian I want women to know – I hear you, I see you, I am listening to you.’
Pictured: Women marching in Perth while holding signs on Sunday at the historic March 4 Justice rally
Ms Hendry rejected a private meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday.
‘We have already come to the front door, now it’s up to the Government to cross the threshold and come to us,’ she wrote on Twitter.
‘We will not be meeting behind closed doors.’
Mr Morrison also said on Sunday that he would not be attending the events.
‘I won’t be going out to the march,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘I will be happy to meet with a delegation from the group that is coming to Canberra.’
He said the issue of violence against women continues to be a high priority of his government.
Pressed on why he won’t attend the march, Mr Morrison said: ‘I don’t have a habit of going to any marches when I come to Canberra because as prime minister when you are in Canberra it’s a very busy day.’
ACTU Secretary Sally McManus will attend the march in Canberra and said the event will be the biggest in Australian history. Pictured: Protesters in Perth
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is also too busy to attend.
‘I’ve already got commitments that I will meet, and I believe if you make commitments, then you should stick to those,’ he told the ABC on Sunday.
KEY DEMANDS OF MARCH 4 JUSTICE ORGANISERS
* Investigate gendered violence within parliament
* Stand down politicians who perpetrate violence
* Implement recommendations of Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work report
* Ratify Convention on Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the World of Work
* Strengthen Sex Discrimination Act so parliamentarians and judges are held to account for sexual harassment and discrimination
* Create code of conduct for federal MPs that includes prevention of gendered violence
* Mandate annual gendered violence and sexual harassment training for federal MPs and their staff
* Enact federal Gender Equality Act and conduct a national gender equity audit of all parliaments
* Lift public funding for gendered violence prevention from one per cent to world’s best practice standards of nine to 12 per cent of the federal budget
* Ensure all Australian parliaments are gender equal by 2030
‘I appreciate that this is an important issue and I understand, part of democracy, that people have their right to march and protest.’
ACTU Secretary Sally McManus will attend the march in Canberra and said the event will be the biggest in Australian history.
‘Women are saying ‘enough’s enough’,’ Ms McManus told 9 News.
‘We’ve had enough, and these marches, as you can see, are happening right across the country. I think this will be the biggest uprising of women that Australia’s seen.’
Michele O’Neil, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, told the network that movement is needed to protect women.
‘In workplaces all over the country, women are being harassed, they’re being assaulted, and even in some cases raped,’ he said.
‘And we know the answers to this. The government knows the answers to this. And they just refuse to act. So we’re here, with thousands of other women, to make sure the government can’t ignore the call to act.’
Labor leader Anthony Albanese will also be attending the event in Canberra.
‘I think the issue of women’s rights is one that, absolutely, I’m not surprised that it’s being campaigned on, he said.
The rallies are being held to protest the ‘unacceptable’ treatment of women in the workplace and the community and the right of women to feel safe.
They come as the Morrison Government is under a cloud over the alleged rape of a former Liberal staffer by a colleague and rape allegations dating back to 1988 levelled at a federal minister, which he strongly denies.
‘Enough is enough. This is a national reckoning,’ Fair Agenda executive director Renee Carr said in a statement.
‘Women and girls around the country are completely grief-stricken by the federal government’s failure to respond to this crisis, and intervene in the systems that enable gendered violence across our communities.’