Celebrating 100 Years of Women's Football

Today Abigail spoke in celebration of 100 years of women's football, and advocated for gender equality in all aspects of sport.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (20:22): On behalf of The Greens I support the motion and thank the Hon. Catherine Cusack for moving it. Consistently, year in and year out, the Matildas are ranked as one of Australia's most beloved sporting teams. The talent and ability of our athletes has seen them consistently achieve success on the world stage. But, unfortunately, being good at football does not necessarily equate to earning a living from it. The Matildas have consistently achieved far greater success than their male counterparts, with substantially less support or investment. They won the Asian Cup years before the Socceroos did and consistently made it to World Cup knockout stages while the Socceroos struggled to make it out of the group stages.

In 2019 the Matildas secured a new collective bargaining agreement that brought them as international athletes closer to pay parity with their male counterparts. It was heralded as a landmark achievement, setting up a tiered payment system for Matildas players, with a minimum wage set at $40,000 and going up to $83,000 for top-tier players. However, it is only the top-tier that matches the male Socceroos players' rates. The agreement now sees each team receive 40 per cent of the prize money paid to Football Federation Australia for their tournament performances; however, with men's teams attracting far more in prize money than women's teams, the financial disparity remains.

Women face even greater inequality in the domestic leagues. While the new agreement managed to set W‑League salaries at the same minimum hourly rate as the A-League, women's teams enjoy far fewer contracted hours per season than their A-League counterparts. In 2020 minimum wage for the W-League was $16,344, while the A-League sat at $64,100. That is before you go into the lucrative sponsorship deals available to male players that are unattainable for so many of our nation's elite female athletes. When this deal was announced in 2019, around 100 years since the first public match of association football between two women's teams, it was applauded that the Australian women's football team would be allowed to fly business class for international travel, access maternity leave, use the same gyms and training facilities as the men's teams and have access to a similar entourage of professional staff as enjoyed by the Socceroos.

What should be applauded is the collective bargaining power demonstrated and sustained by the Matildas, which saw them going on strike in 2015 to raise their salary above the poverty line. It was in the same year that they became the first Australian team, men's or women's, to win a knockout stage match at the World Cup. Equal pay for equal play is not a difficult concept to grasp. It is actually a fundamental question of whether people think the contribution of women is worth the same as men. Governments do not have the power to compel sponsors to put women athletes on the front of cereal boxes, but what they can do right now is refuse to provide grants or funding to any code or competition that does not pay equal salaries and prize money to female competitors. I implore the Government to do just that. It is with great pleasure that we support the motion.


The full transcript and debate can be found in Hansard here.

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