The following is a message from the CEO of Laureate Australia and New Zealand and the President of Torrens University.
“Today, on International Women’s Day, we pause to celebrate the achievement of women and reaffirm our commitment to gender parity in Australia, New Zealand and around the world. Furthermore, we reflect on the role of education as perhaps the most powerful equaliser and enabler of the change we need to see.
Many people ask me why we still need International Women’s Day. Unfortunately in Australia each week a women dies through domestic violence. While we are seeing more female graduates overall, there are still fewer than 15% of the most senior executive positions are held by women across Australia, and in many companies, a woman doing the same job can earn 16% less than a man each year. While the statistics vary a little in New Zealand, many of these entrenched challenges remain the same.
Here at Laureate Australia and New Zealand (LANZ), of our 1756 employees, 1112 are women (a little over 63%) and 70.2% of our actively enrolled and engaged student population is female. We also have well over 50% of leadership positions filled by women. I’m proud of these statistics and am proud of the environment we are creating which allows women to pursue their passion and nurture their talent.
Beyond LANZ, I look across the Laureate network and continue to be inspired by incredible women and by the men who understand that gender parity is something we must all strive for. I think about more than one million students currently enrolled across our network and how for so many of them, they are the first in their families (or first in their entire community) to have the opportunity to pursue higher education. Imagine the impact this has. The Global Partnership for Education estimate 131 million girls around the world remain out of school and without access to education. It is devastating to consider what our world misses out on by not affording these young women the right to learn.
Today I think about the inspiring women who are part of our local and global network.
I think about another Laureate student Carolina Zuheill Rosales, from Universidad del Valle de México (UVM) who is providing healthcare to the most isolated populations in Mexico.
Or Fatima Casa Nova and Alessandra Bahia, professors at FG – Centro Universitário who were among the first responders during the outbreak of Zika in Recife, Brazil.
Today I also think about all those phenomenal women who are not recognised, and who are working every day to make a positive contribution in the lives of others.
I think about our academic staff who open up a world of passion, imagination and opportunity in the lives of our students, and I think about the students who make incredible sacrifices to study, and who use their talent and skill to create positive change in the world.
Today I also want to thank our supportive male colleagues who through respect and a belief in equality are supporting diversity by celebrating and supporting every individual.
As we look ahead, you have my personal commitment to continue to be a champion for all women and for the men who know our company, our community and our world will be stronger when difference and diversity is valued, and when inclusion is never compromised.
I am proud of our diversity across LANZ and by celebrating today we help shine a light on areas of discrimination that still exist. We take this responsibility seriously and as always, strive to be Here for Good.
Enjoy this day, and be sure to find a woman who inspires you and say thanks.