IN AN attempt to narrow the Mars-Venus divide within the legal profession, men are now able to join the Women Lawyers Association of New South Wales (WLANSW).
“We have introduced associate membership under our constitution and for the first time in history men are allowed to become associate members which means they won’t have voting rights but they are entitled to all the other benefits and discounts of membership,” WLANSW President Lee-May Saw said.
The changes to the WLANSW constitution were passed at the Association’s annual general meeting last November.
“A notice about the proposed changes had gone out prior to the AGM and we were expecting some comment and feedback from members on the issue, but it was surprisingly uncontroversial,” Saw said.
The ease with which the changes were passed can be seen as an indicator of a desire for co-operation between the sexes to further address ongoing gender inequality within the profession. Victorian Women Lawyers also allows men to become members.
“It’s a way for male lawyers to say they support the objects of our association and it’s an opportunity for us to work with men on these issues. There are certainly some who are very keen to be the first male lawyer of Women Lawyers,” Saw said.
Gender issues will be in the spotlight next week with over 12,000 people expected to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March through a series of events held by United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Committees around Australia over the course of the week.
“It’s important that there is an international day to celebrate women each year — it’s easy to become complacent about the struggle women have had to go through historically and the struggle that women continue to go through,” Saw said.
The theme for International Women’s Day is 2007 is “Ending Impunity for Violence against Women”. Funds raised by UNIFEM Australia will support a major project to end violence against women in the Pacific region.