State Labor government’s Victoria and Queensland are calling for ideas on addressing gender financial equality but the silence is deafening from the Morrison government.
On July 13, the Victorian Government called for submissions to an Inquiry into economic equity for Victorian women, and now today, the Queensland Government has followed suit by opening submissions to its Queensland Women’s Strategy.
But there’s been nothing new from the Morrison government on directly addressing women’s economic disadvantage for the best part of a year.
Sure we had a rather hastily put together Women’s Budget Statement and a lot of talk about cabinet meetings on the issue – but where is the focused plan to end the gender pay gap, the super gap, the wealth gap and so much more?
Instead, it increasingly appears that the government is unwilling to face financial insecurity head-on with any radical policy changes.
Evidence of this is perhaps the government’s decision to halve funding to alliances that help address women’s economic security.
In June, the not-for profit organisation Economic Security 4 Women (eS4W), which represents some 6-million women through member networks, was pipped for some $800,000 in renewed funding over three years, by the YWCA feminist organisation the Equality Rights Alliance (ERA). Both equally deserving organisations…that’s not the point.
Unlike previous years under eS4W, the ERA will have the tough job of dealing with economic security with around $400,000 after the government decided that the other half would go to addressing women in leadership – both areas which arguably needed the $800,000 alone.
“You are asking the alliance to work doubly hard to focus on leadership and economic security as the one alliance area,” said eS4W’s spokesperson Sharen Page.
“I think there will be a gap. I do think there is a sector of women that will lose their voice because you can’t do all this work on half the money.”
“With safety and economic security being top focus at the moment, the government had the ability to have all these voices heard but instead they have compacted it,” says Page.
Helen Dalley-Fisher, spokesperson for the Equality Rights Alliance, which trumped the eS4W in securing the funding for women’s economic security and leadership, says her organisation will take a different approach to focusing on women’s financial inequalities.
“We are now at a place where we have to place a leadership lens on women’s economic security and change the way society values women,” she said.
“We have had the easy wins, you know you can’t sack someone anymore over getting pregnant,” said Ms Dalley-Fisher.
“By placing a leadership lens on this area, we start to ask the question, who has the power to make decisions and how do we then make change.”
She added that the ERA’s role will be to advise the federal government on how to reflect the needs of women rather than on what the government’s policy on women should be.
Let’s hope that the ERA is not only successful in getting the government to listen but to getting it to take transformative action and importantly lead like that of state governments.
Meanwhile, make sure you add your voice to these state government submissions if they apply to you. Chances are that if you are reading this, they do.