MEDIA RELEASE 23 January 2018

Gender Targets needed for Gongs

A movement of women working towards equality in our national awards system has called for gender targets to be immediately introduced into the Australian Honours. 

The three co-founders of Honour a Woman have grown impatient with the perennial gender imbalance favouring male recipients of the Order of Australia and have been lobbying the Federal Government to ensure women are equally acknowledged by the year 2020. 

Co-founder Dr Elizabeth Hartnell-Young explains:

“On 26 January, many worthy people who have enriched our community will deservedly be recognised. But yet again, we will see men awarded the majority of the awards, as they have ever since the Honours began in 1975.” 

“In a country that prides itself on equality and fairness, how can men continue to receive on average two thirds of our honours while many worthy women remain unacknowledged? The system does not reflect the rich diversity of our society” she said.

“Honour a Woman calls on the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer to introduce targets in our national awards so that we can fairly celebrate diversity, while recognising outstanding service”said co-founder Ruth McGowan OAM.

Receiving an Order of Australia, or a ‘gong’ as they are affectionately known, generally relies on a citizen being confidentially nominated by a member of the community. Men are nominated at a higher rate than women and consistently receive approximately 70 per cent of the awards. 

Co-founder Carol Kiernan said, “Government has to stop blaming the community for the low nominations of women. The system is broken. It’s time to change both the way people are nominated for Orders of Australia and the whole selection process. Targets will bring in some fairness.”

When the nominations are announced on Australia Day, Honour a Woman is hoping to see an increase in women recognised as a result of their extensive efforts over the past year. “But what we really want is structural reform that commits to fairly recognising women and their outstanding contribution to the Australian community. After 43 years, it’s surely time for equality.”said Dr Hartnell-Young. 


Contacts for additional comment and media enquiries

Honour a Woman