So the coalition is to begin its first term governing for “all” Australians by thumbing their noses at 50% of the population….women. Tony Abbott’s cabinet will include one women, Julie Bishop.
Tony Abbott said he was “obviously disappointed that there were not more women in cabinet” but said there were some “very good and talented women knocking on the door”. Doesn’t Tony Abbott realise that this is 2013 and Australian women have earned their place at the table…we have had hundreds of years of “knocking at the door”. A huge step backwards for women.
When the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a statement in June 2013 saying “under an Abbott government, women’s voices would be banished from political life” her comments received widespread derision in the media. Prominent feminist Eva Cox stated that ” women want the PM to stop assuming gender is the only issue” and Julie Bishop called on Julia Gillard to apologise for her comments. The Women’s Weekly stated that the Prime Ministers comments caused “confusion, outrage, and some embarrassment”.
A critical analysis of what the reality of Julia Gillard’s prediction may mean for good governance was largely missing in media reporting. The very elusive “gender card” became a very convenient way of dismissing any dissenting voices on women’s issues. Legitimacy was given to dismiss the voices of women who try to speak of the specific issues for women.
All the while Tony Abbott kept telling all who listened to his subterfuge ” he gets women”. We all witnessed him trotting his daughters around as some sort of “proof” that he was worthy of women’s votes. At no time during the election campaign was there ever a focus on what an Abbott government would offer women. Well apart from a very inequitable paid parental leave. My own requests to Kevin Andrews Opp. spokesperson for Families & Senator Michaelia Cash Opp spokesperson for Women for information on policies for domestic violence & sexual assault were ignored. Not the only issues affecting women, but considering 1 in 3 women will experience physical violence and 1 in 5 women women will experience sexual violence across their lifetime, very important to women’s health, autonomy & financial security.
Women’s work participation often sees women segregated into low paid, part time jobs. Evidenced by a 17.5% pay gap between men & women’s wages. Now the coalition government is set to deny wage increases to workers in the age care & child care industries, jobs largely filled by women in part time positions.
Women are still over represented in figures of poverty & homelessness.
Who now will be the political voice on these issues.
Certainly not Julia Bishop who has stated that Australian women are at no disadvantage to men. Because some women can gain position of power & wealth does not mean that ” all things are equal”. Only14% of the directors in the ASX are women, 22% of senior positions at law firms are occupied by women, 24.7% of the House of Reps are women. Nor Senator Michaelia Cash who has been appointed to the outer ministry as Assistant Minister for Immigration & Border Protection; Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women. Now there is a strange mix of roles if there ever was one. Does Senator Cash have a breadth of understanding of issues for women including immigrant women?
Australia was one of the first countries in the world to grant women full political rights, but it was one of the last Western countries to elect women to its national Parliament. One hundred and ten years after the first women contested a Commonwealth election, only one-quarter of Members in the House of Representatives and a little more than one-third of Senators are women. Despite the presence of several high-profile women in Commonwealth, state and territory parliaments in recent years, including Australia’s first female Prime Minister (in 2010) and Attorney-General (in 2011), women continue to be significantly under-represented in Australia’s parliaments, within Cabinets, and in senior ministries and parliamentary positions. Under-representation remains a significant challenge, both structurally and culturally, for Australia’s parliaments. Academic studies suggest that the under-representation of women in our elected parliaments has a significant impact on how women generally perceive their level of inclusion in society. McCann & Wilson 2012
Now is not the time for Australia to be moving backwards. Advancement of women in all aspects of society requires a government that will address gender inequality not perpetuate it.
Women have fought long and hard for the gains they have made.. for the many thousands of women who are socially, financially and physically disadvantaged
…..the personal is political.
No self respecting Woman should wish for or work for the success of a party that works against her sex”
Thank you, as a senior male, I find the Abboatt Gummint a deplorable example of pushing wimmin to the outter…..
Thank you! The exclusion of women in cabinet is a loss for men as well as women!
Excellent blog Betty- prominent feminists who berated Julia Gillard have cause to now reflect on their input to what should have been a broader political discussion on what exactly an Abbott led government would contribute to the advancement of women- all women- in Australia. It’s not playing the gender card at all- it is about building a society towards gender equality- but then Tony doesn’t get that nor Bishop or Cash- a terrible outcome 😦
So true..many women who should have known better failed to see the deliberate undermining of Julia Gillard solely based on her gender. All women become lesser for it!
It is sad when you think you have traveled so far , to suddenly be sent back to where you started from. But they under estimate us , our spirit is unbroken and we will continue for fight for our rights
Taking us backwards one day at a time. In 3 years time who knows what century we will be in!!
Thank you Betty! I also would not like to have someone promoted to a position just because they were a woman, BUT, for this day & age to be able to stand in front of the nation & basically say, well yes it is a bit sad that there was only one woman in Cabinet, I was hoping for two, is beyond belief.
Worse, the media are not even hitting up the Liberals to ask why they are in this position, what is the problem with the culture or systems in the Liberal party for them to find themselves in this position in 2013. It should be a big deal. Media should be highlighting the links between female poverty & abuse and lack of female representation. Instead, we hear ‘hype’ about one lone Liberal Senator ‘dissenting’? FFS! they could at least be analyzing the very sensible suggestions that Boyce had?
I am very glad that you could put together all the facts & figures here lady. This is a wake-up call that maybe too many women have been complacent, seeing slight increases in representation every year, thinking that will flow through eventually to ground level where women will be supported more. Sadly, we just took one massive step backwards. If we have gone backwards at the very top of our nation how far further back with the poverty stricken single mother go?
Wise words indeed Noely. Dreadful message to young women. All the nonsense on merit is just an “excuse” to justify exclusion. We will now have men who are “experts” on issues for women.
Thank you great article, I am feeling very sad and despondent today. As we as women are in for a very rough ride. And yes it has taken us years to get to where we are, and it took Abbott 10 minutes to take us all back to the 70s.
The Abbott -one -women- on -his front bench is indicative of the thinking that has informed the liberal political discourse for a long time and it is going to continue -to the ongoing detriment of women. His actions here expose the falsehood of his “using” of his daughters to demonstrate his attitude to women..Julia Gillard was so right in her prediction for the future of women under this Abbott government
Thanks for this article. It hasn’t improved my mood but it has educated me. I do find it hard to read comments about women’s complacency when there is no reference to men’s complacency about true equality for women. While we might be 51% of the population we are not 51% of the power base of government at any level so I’d find it far more supportive of women if we can acknowledge that men need to be standing beside us to improve our situation.
Great article Betty…more doors closed on women,Abbott is a disgrace,but we are not surprised really, he has form….but being excluded from cabinet is another ‘slam’,keep protesting Bet we are with you ! (My last comment was actually written by James)
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