Speaking at a Women’s Weekly forum in September, Julie Bishop directly linked Australia’s low world ranking in female political representation to her party. She said: It’s not acceptable for our party to contribute to the fall in Australia’s ratings from 15th in the world in terms of female parliamentary representation in 1999 to 50th today. The Conversation compares the Labor and Liberal strategies and the value of quotas.
Broad Agenda takes a different approach and advises that it is time to review our system of representation with single member electorates and introduced Mixed Member Proportional Representation to address the lack of women in Parliament. What do you think?
The Melbourne Press Club has entered Patience Thoms into their Hall of Fame. She has been listed on the Australian Women's Register for many years.
A highly competent journalist, Patience Thoms served as President of BPW Australia (1960-1964) and International President (1968-1971). She travelled widely in these roles, and wrote a history The First 25 Years of BPW Australia, in which she identified the diversity of challenges for women in post-war Australian society from securing equal education to the injustices of superannuation schemes. Her entry in the Hall of Fame recognises that Patience Thoms redefined coverage of women’s issues in Queensland’s leading newspaper and gave women a voice in the newsroom.
Libertarian thinktank CIS has produced a snapshot report that concludes childcare continues to become less affordable for working families. Women's Agenda concurs, claiming that the regulation of childcare has focused on promoting early childhood education and highly contestable measures of quality in childcare, at the expense of affordability and accessibility. More of us are using formal childcare in order to participate in the workforce, yet Government policies on childcare are working at cross-purposes, on one hand reducing childcare costs through price subsidies while on the other hand driving up costs through a complex National Quality Framework that has cemented childcare as a high-cost and inflexible service. Governments at all levels must decide if the primary policy objective of supporting childcare is female workforce participation or the early education of children.
Alys Gagnon, Executive Director of The Parenthood argues policy that makes for worse early childhood education is reprehensible at best, asserting that we must always push for policy settings that place the needs of children at the heart of early learning and care.
The 50/50 by 2030 Foundation’s latest report presents the findings derived from a national survey of 2,122 Australians about their attitudes to sexism and gender inequality. The survey, conducted online in March 2018, explored: 1) the attitudes of boys, girls, men and women to gender equality and empowerment; 2) attitudinal differences by generation; and, 3) the relationship between online activity and attitudes to gender equality.
The findings: An overwhelming 88% of Australians agreed that inequality between women and men is still a problem in Australia today, no different to surveys since 2009. 53% of men and 63% of women agreed sexism is widespread across politics, and a majority of Australians identified sexism in media and workplaces. Nearly half of male respondents “agreed or strongly agreed” with the statement that “gender equality strategies in the workplace do not take men into account”. We need to understand what men fear from gender equality, what they think they might lose and what policy interventions could incite their support.
On 5 September, across the nation, educators who work in long day care centres walked off the job for the fourth time in 18 months. In February this year, an attempt to bring a pay equity case through the Fair Work Commission was dismissed. Early childhood educators are seeking improved wages and recognition of the value of their work in early childhood education and care. Without a liveable wage many of these educators will be compelled to walk out the door of these centres – not just today, but forever. This comes at a high cost to Australia’s aspiration for world-class, high quality education for its youngest children. They need our support.
Despite her popularity with the electorate, Julie Bishop lost last week’s Liberal leadership ballot, and her colleague Julia Banks decided not to stand at the next election, protesting against bullying during the leadership campaign. Dr Chris Wallace in The Conversation questions whether politics has to work this way, and why this is happening. And the answer is men.
A surprising and fascinating historical analysis in The Conversation by historian Hannah Forsyth. Hannah affirms that women have always worked. Work performed by both men and women once took place at or near the family home. In the early 20th Century there were women professionals in almost all fields, although women dominated in areas that drew on women’s traditional authority over what an older middle class defined as the “domestic sphere”. Gradually, as work industrialised, it moved away from the home and into spaces dedicated to work. This occurred earlier for men than for women, which is the process that created a separate sphere, and left women in it.
Making a Difference: Resolutions passed by BPW Australia National Conference
In 2016, BPW North Lakes in Queensland, proposed a resolution to the BPWA National Conference that BPW Australia lobbies the Australian and state Governments for the removal of the GST from women’s sanitary products. Their resolution was adopted and in 2018, we are seeing the results of this lobbying. BPW hasn't been the only voice calling for change, but we are effective.
BPW Australia lobbied for many years for Australia to have a paid parental leave scheme, and our direct advocacy to decision-makers eventually prevailed. In 2015 the BPW Australia Leadership Summit resolved to advocate for superannuation to be included in PPL payments. This call has been supported by other women's organisations. However in 2018, when the UN Committee reviewing Australia's compliance with CEDAW questioned Australia’s continued failure to include superannuation in government PPL, the Government simply replied that there are no plans to extend PPL. More lobbying required!
The Commonwealth Office for Women advised that, despite their remit to review federal government policy from a gender perspective, recent federal budget cuts were not subject to a gender analysis. This needs to change, and the Office for Women needs to be properly funded and resourced to meet these obligations.
The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey tells the stories of the same group of Australians over the course of their lives. Starting in 2001, the survey now tracks more than 17,500 people in 9,500 households. One of the most striking findings from this year’s HILDA report is the large gender divide in financial literacy. Women exhibit much lower levels of financial literacy than men. Young people are the least financially literate, while those approaching retirement are the most financially literate. Take the quiz here.
NAIDOC week has been uplifting and inspiring this year, a national feast of wonderful stories about remarkable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Among the many announcements, Tanya Hosch has been appointed as the first Indigenous BoardLinks Champion, a role designed to increase the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women on Australian Government boards. Tanya is the General Manager for Inclusion and Social Policy at the AFL, a member of Chief Executive Women and the NAB Indigenous Advisory Group.
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