Each for Equal

Our Wellbeing At Work

Posted on 06 Mar 2020

Working towards gender equality is often considered a women’s issue. However, this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) - on 8 March 2020 - explores the idea that gender equality is an economic issue, essential for communities to thrive, and therefore an issue that affects all people.

Each for Equal, the 2020 theme, encourages everyone to help create a gender equal world by actively choosing to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions and improve situations, leading to a healthier, wealthier and more harmonious world.

South Australia is well-known as a leader when it comes to gender equality, being the first state in Australia to introduce legislation giving women the right to vote and stand for parliament.

Lord mayor sandy verschoor each for equaly

lord mayor of adelaide sandy verschoor strikes the #eachforequal pose.

Now in her second year as the city’s civic leader, Lord Mayor of Adelaide Sandy Verschoor has forged a successful career across the arts, business and local government. While she has seen progress on gender equality continue and many improvements realised along the way, there is more work to do.

“There are still occasions when I am the only woman in the room. Often there are equal numbers in the workplace but once you get to CEO or general manager levels, equality tends to drop off,” Sandy said.

By addressing the balance, Sandy believes better outcomes can be gained.

“When there are females in the room, the conversation changes and becomes a proper representation and reflection of the reality that half the population is female. There will often be a greater focus on equity, wellbeing, and how workplaces can ensure females continue to have a career and meaningful work throughout raising a family, in addition to governance and business best practice.”
Lord Mayor of Adelaide Sandy Verschoor

Research has shown that when women are excluded from working, economies are restricted, and poverty continues its cycle*.

“If you really want to break the cycle of poverty, you need to give women access to education. The more that women have access to education, the more they feed that back into the wellbeing of the whole community, and help their children have opportunities they didn’t have.”

One aspect of this year’s IWD theme is that everyone needs to work together to bring about equality, men included.

Sandy talks about how her father encouraged his daughters to have a great education.

“My father wanted us to be independent, able to earn a good living, and have choices in life. He wanted us to have the same sorts of opportunities that he had.

“In comparison, my aunty on my mum’s side wasn’t allowed to go to University when she was younger. So, when she was in her late forties she went to Uni and got her degree – something she had wanted her whole life. We were so proud of her.”

While the 2018 South Australian local government elections saw a record 34.5 per cent of women councillors elected, Sandy is only the third female City of Adelaide Lord Mayor in history.

“It’s still so new to have a female Lord Mayor that there is no official title for a male partner in the same way that there is for a female partner of a male Lord Mayor (Lady Mayoress). That’s extraordinary to me in this day and age.

“At the last election it was front page news that there were 26 female mayors out of the 68 councils. I really hope that by the time my daughters are my age, that being a woman in politics or local government or in any position of power is not newsworthy, it’s just normal.”
Sandy Verschoor

How the media covers women in politics can also be quite different than it is for men.

“Women face a lot more scrutiny of their dress sense and presentation - I have felt that pressure, especially when I first came into office.

“I had a bit of fun recently by purposefully wearing the same dress when I launched the start of our Gawler Place upgrade and then again a year later when we announced the completion. And people actually noticed and contacted me about it. It’s astonishing that people felt the need to point that out.”

Iwd2020 lm and coa leaders


Lord Mayor of Adelaide Sandy Verschoor (centre) with (LEFT TO RIGHT) City of Adelaide's Director Place, Klinton DevEnish; Deputy CEO & Director Culture, Clare Mockler; CEO, Mark Goldstone; Director Growth, Ian Hill.

Sandy praised the City of Adelaide for its gender equality.

“The City of Adelaide has been the most extraordinary workplace I’ve seen in how it enables women to choose to be caregivers and still have a really great career.

“When you have equality and equity in a workplace, everybody benefits. For generations, men were expected to be the sole breadwinner and missed out on the opportunity to be a part of their children’s upbringing.

“That is starting to change. When people have choices, there’s equal contribution and more equitable partnerships and I’m proud that the City of Adelaide encourages men access to paternity leave.”

Looking to the rest of her term as Lord Mayor, Sandy would like to see more women step forward.

“I would encourage any woman who wants to represent their business or residential community to run for local government. I love local government and I think it is served well by female representation."
Sandy Verschoor

“Over the next few years I would like to acknowledge the extraordinary women who are making Adelaide a better place, who have taken the time and energy to represent and work with their local communities and who are making a difference.

“The more we can share those stories, the more we can encourage women to step forward, and inspire people to support them. We’re all stronger when we stand side by side.”

International Women's Day
#IWD2020 #EachforEqual
March 8, 2020


Article by

Paula Stevens

Paula Stevens

Discovering the unfamiliar in the familiar

Paula has called Adelaide home her entire life and has spent many years exploring its nooks and crannies. She is excited and inspired when uncovering a new story, a hidden place, and hearing the stories of people who add to the colour and life of the city.