This is the story of a boy, and a girl.
It'sa universal story.
And an Australian story.
It's a story that occurs every two minutes,in fact.
A story that happens 657 times a day, every day of the year.
And in every kind of household, and everycity and region across Australia.
This is the bigger story behind violence against women.
This story doesn't have a happy ending.
Because this is the story of how gender inequality contributes to the murder of one Australian woman almost every week.
Sounds like a tall tale, right?Let's take things back to the start.
Here's the story of a regular woman.
As a girl, she gets told how pretty she is, never how clever she is.
That if she wears a short dress she's asking for it.
That proper girls don't play football, and there's no girl's footy team at school anyway.
She grows up, and gets used to being harassed by men on the street.
That's just the wayit is.
Here's the story of a regular man.
As a boy, he learns that women aren't equal to men from a very early age.
Even though both his parents work, on the weekends his mum does the housework whiledad watches sport.
When he cries about being bullied at school,his dad tells him to 'stop being such a girl' and just 'punch 'em right back.
'Technically speaking, we'd say that these social norms, practices and structures haveshaped both the boy and the girl, creating a society where women are valued less andmen are expected to be dominant and in control.
In such a world, disrespect and hostilityis excused, and violence against women is far more likely.
But back to our story.
The girl grows up into a woman, the boy growsinto a man, and they begin to date.
He jokes that he hopes she "doesn't get fatnow that we're together.
" She's not sure whether she should laugh.
They have the same education and do similar work, yet he earns more money.
He is quickly promoted, like other men in the company, while she gets overlooked.
At home, she does all the household chores, and he takes control of their joint finances,seeing as he's the main breadwinner and all.
When they're at the pub, he puts her downin front of his mates.
His friends stay quiet.
In the morning he wakes up and blames the alcohol.
He always has an excuse.
When she gets pregnant, her boss says she can't come back part-time.
After the baby is born, the lack of flexible job opportunities and childcare keeps herout of the workforce.
She is socially isolated and financially dependenton him.
He controls decision making, and her.
Theyare not equals.
She is dependent on him for everything.
So she never tells anyone that he has started to hit her.
She doesn't say anything to her family or friends.
She grows more isolated.
She hasnothing else but him, so she lives with the violence, untiltheir story ends, one way or another.
This story isn't a one-off.
It's a story sharedby 1 in 4 Australian women who have experienced physical or sexual violence from a currentor former partner.
And it's a story of one in five women since the age of 15 who experiencesexual violence including rape, one in four emotional violence and one in three women physical violence.
But it's also a story that affects children.
More than half of the women who experience violencehad children in their care when the violence occurred.
For victims and perpetrators, violence against women is the conclusion often reached aftera life lived in a society where women and men aren't treated equally.
But we – you and I – can change the narrative.
Better education, policies, practices, support and funding can prevent this all-too-common story.
When women and men have equal power, value and opportunities in relationships and insociety, violence against women is less likely.
By nurturing caring, respectful and equalrelationships, and by creating equitable and inclusivecommunities, workplaces and institutions, we can create a society of equality and respectwhere violence against women is unthinkable.
Let's change the story.
Because ending violenceagainst women starts with gender equality.