SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

Australian gender inequality 'not zero-sum game'

Gender inequality is acting as a handbrake on Australia's economy and consigning more women to poverty at all stages of life.

But the disparity will only be fixed if the nation stops viewing gender parity in terms of winners and losers, prominent businesswoman Sam Mostyn says.

"What we now require as a nation is the courage to recognise that gender equality is not a zero-sum game," she told the National Press Club on Thursday.

"It is not an equation whereby if women gain, men somehow lose. That is simply is not the case.

"It is an equation where all ships get lifted by that same tide."

A federal government report card unveiled on International Women's Day highlighted a 13 per cent gender pay gap for full-time weekly wages.

Women also do nine hours more unpaid work per week, but almost a third of Australian men don't believe gender inequality exists.

Ms Mostyn, who chairs the federal government's women's economic equality task force, noted that while female employment had risen overall, the gains were reflected in part-time and insecure work rather than full-time participation.

"It is clear that gender inequality is not only holding women back but it is now a brake on our economy and our progress as a country," she said.

"As we enter much more difficult economic conditions, the full utilisation of the one of the most educated, energetic and capable cohorts - women - has never been more important, and we know women want that opportunity."

The task force will recommend the federal government pay superannuation on paid parental leave.

An analysis by industry fund Hesta this week found women had missed out on more than $2.8 billion in super in the 12 years since Australia's paid parental leave scheme was introduced.

Other recommendations include the abolition of the activity test, which links subsidised childcare hours to how much parents work, increased rent assistance, the removal of mutual obligations for welfare recipients and pay rises for early childhood educators.

"We want a lot of things. We have to have it costed and we will put our full suite of recommendations to the government shortly," Ms Mostyn said.

A national strategy on women's equality will be released later this year.