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”