Australia lags behind developed countries in gender equality

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Melbourne, Dec 3 (ANI): A survey has found that Australia lags behind developed countries when it comes to gender equality.

Australia was ranked 17 out of 21 OECD countries on the new Fairness and Families Index, beating only the United Kingdom, Austria, Japan and Switzerland.

Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark took out top honours due to generous parental leave and family benefit schemes as well as high female workforce participation rates.

The index compiled by UK think-tank The Fatherhood Institute compared policies between countries, ranking them on 10 different markers, including gender pay gaps, parental leave and childcare spending.

It also looked at the number of men in part-time work and female representation on company boards and in parliaments.

The index didn't consider Labor's 18-week minimum wage scheme, which begins in January, but researcher Richard Fletcher says it would be unlikely to boost Australia's position.

"If they do the index again next year we will still be pretty low," News.com.au quoted Fletcher from the University of Newcastle, as saying, noting Australia's scheme is average by world standards.

Fletcher, who helped compile data from Australia for the index, noted that the study had a particular focus on paternity leave.

"The area we fall behind in, and will continue to fall behind in, is paid paternity leave," he said, noting Labor's scheme offers eligible secondary carers two weeks' leave from July 2012. (ANI)

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