By STAFF WRITERS
An estimated 10,000 people attended the Women’s March 4 Justice in Sydney today, as part of a national day of gatherings held simultaneously in over 40 cities and towns across Australia.
Nationwide, around 100,000 women and their supporters joined the rallies, calling for change to the way women are treated in workplaces, schools, government, inside their homes and on the streets.
The Sydney event, which commenced outside Town Hall in George Street, was followed by a march though CBD streets to the NSW Parliament in Macquarie Street, where it concluded at 2pm with a rousing rendition of the late Helen Reddy’s ‘I Am Woman’.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian did not attend the rally, instead giving a press conference on the roof of the new acute services building at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, where she briefed media on the latest Covid-19 situation.
Asked why she did not attend the event, Ms Berejiklian told reporters that she had to work.
“For every woman that marches, there are thousands of others who support the cause but who, because of work or family commitments, can’t get to the march and I put myself in that category,” she said.
However, several senior NSW Government figures did attend the rally, including Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Attorney-General and Minister for Prevention of Domstic Violence Mark Speakman, and Minister for Mental Health and Women Ronnie Taylor.
Other politicians who attended included NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay, Greens MP and Member for Newtown Jenny Leong, and Greens MP and Member for Balmain Jamie Parker.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore was among the local government representatives who took part.
Sharing a photo of the crowd to her Facebook page, the Lord Mayor wrote: “Women should be safe in their homes, safe in their workplaces, safe everywhere.
“I joined thousands at Town Hall today to #March4Justice – our numbers increase, our voice gets ever louder. Enough is enough.”
The rally went ahead without incident after NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard signed a last minute exemption to Covid-19 public health orders allowing 10,000 people to attend the Sydney rally.
The protests were in response to the experience of political staffer, Brittany Higgins, who was allegedly raped at Parliament House, Canberra, and historical allegations of rape made concerning Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter, as well as violence against women and gender inequalities in general.
Ms Higgins made a surprise appearance at the Canberra rally outside Parliament House today, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.
She told the crowd of over 5000: “I was raped inside Parliament House by a colleague, and for so long it felt like the people around me only cared because of what happened and what it might mean for them.
“These are the people making our laws and governing the country.
“If they aren’t committed to addressing these issues in their own offices, what confidence can the women of Australia have that they will be proactive in addressing this issue in the broader community?”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison reportedly offered to meet with the protest organisers in a private meeting. The offer was refused on the grounds that the Prime Minister should address the matter publicly at the Canberra rally, which he declined to do.