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How Kate Jenkins Changed The Way Gender Equality And Sexual Harassment Is Addressed

Kate Jenkins’ work while serving as Sex Discrimination Commissioner sparked cultural change, conversation, and improved laws for gender equality and addressing sexual harassment.

In her seven years in the role, she served to advance gender equality and the rights of LGBTQI+ communities to align with the Sex Discrimination Act and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Listen to the chat with Kath Jenkins here:

Ms Jenkins was also responsible for delivering the landmark Respect@Work report, which made several recommendations that laws be changed around workplace sexual harassment.

Originally released in 2020, the report initially sat in the then-Attorney General’s desk drawer, for more than a year before the allegations of Brittany Higgins and others forced the issue onto the political agenda. 

In her final week in the role as Sex Discrimination Commissioner, she joined Jamila Rizvi on The Weekend Briefing.

Ms Jenkins said during her work, she first learnt a lot about the systems in place at the time and what drove sexual harassment. This helped her direct her future work.

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“People totally understand if you’re a waitress in a bar, you’re a much more risk of sexual harassment than me sitting at my computer,” she said,

“The other thing I learnt really was that drivers of sexual harassment are power imbalances, and the biggest power imbalance still is gender inequality. And lack of diversity and lack of accountability.

“So those big drivers are important to understand because then if we can work on those, we can reduce the prevalence of sexual harassment.”

To hear more about Ms Jenkins time as Sex Discrimination Commissioner, the landmark changes she helped implement and her plans for the future, listen to the full episode of The Weekend Briefing.

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