11 Sep, 2018 Last updated: 09 Nov, 2018

Global gender equality expert and economist Dr Jeni Klugman will tour Victoria this week as part of her work to develop a series of behaviour change research trials tackling gender inequality in Australia to improve health and wellbeing among women and girls.

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Dr Klugman, Managing Director at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Fellow of Harvard Kennedy School’s Women in Public Policy Program, will join health promotion foundation VicHealth for a series of public talks and forums looking into how behaviour change can impact gender equality, as part of her three-year role as the health promotion agency’s Leading Thinker. 

Australia continues to lag behind most developed countries when it comes to gender equality. Australia recently dropped to 46th in the World Economic Forum’s gender equality ranking, coming in at 31 places below its 2006 rank. 

Dr Klugman said despite Australia performing well in some areas, high rates of domestic violence, persistent wage gaps and a lack of women in senior leadership roles continued to hold the country back. 

Gender equality is multidimensional, it is happening in our homes, our workplaces, our schoolyards, on our television screens, and on our sporting fields,” she said. 

Despite having access to education, legal protections and supportive government policy, Australian women still aren’t getting the same opportunities as men and it’s costing the economy billions. 

It’s increasingly well recognised that gender inequality and harmful perceptions that women don’t deserve the same opportunities as men has considerable negative impacts  for women, at home and in the workplace. The good news is we can change attitudes and biases but we need to determine what approaches work best in shifting attitudes, expectations and behaviours. 

An important element of my work with VicHealth will be using the science of behavioural insights to help change harmful social ‘norms’ and drive improvements for women and girls.” 

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said VicHealth was committed to building gender equality for Victorian women and girls.

"Gender equality is a critical determinant of good health and wellbeing. There’s a proven link between gender equality, objectification and also violence against women in all its forms,” Ms Rechter said.

"While Victoria is a world leader in the prevention of violence against women and the promotion of gender equality, we still have a way to go in ensuring the equal distribution of power between men and women.

"As part of Dr Klugman’s residency we’ll be leading a series of research trials looking at how behavioural science can be used to boost gender equality in the workplace, the sporting fields and in the media.”


For more information about the Leading Thinkers program and research trials see: Behavioural insights and gender equality: The second VicHealth Leading Thinkers residency launch report.


Notes to Editors

VicHealth’s Leading Thinker initiative connects international thought leaders with senior policymakers and key local experts to develop innovative solutions to complex health promotion issues, in this case, gender equality. Dr Klugman, alongside Professor Iris Bohnet, are sharing the VicHealth Leading Thinkers on Behavioural Insights and Gender Equality three-year residency 2016–19.

Dr Klugman will be speaking at the VicHealth’s Leading Thinkers: Behavioural Insights and Gender Equality launch at the Arts Centre Melbourne today at 10am. Call VicHealth media Rachel Murphy on 0435 761 732 or email  [email protected] to attend.

About Dr Jeni Klugman

Dr Klugman is the Managing Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and a Women and Public Policy Program Fellow at Harvard University. Dr Klugman is the former Director of Gender and Development at the World Bank Group and director and co-authored the recent High Level Panel Report for the UN Secretary General on Women’s Economic Empowerment. She has also advised the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project and with Chatham House’s Putting Gender Equality on the G20 Agenda.

Dr Klugman sits on several boards and panels, including for the World Economic Forum and the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the Australian National University and postgraduate degrees in both Law and Development Economics from the University of Oxford where she was a Rhodes Scholar.