• 25 Sep 2019 11:18 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Until 1994, no Australian woman was allowed to list their legal status as "farmer". Instead, women on the land were officially defined as unproductive "silent partners", "domestics", "helpmates", or even "farmers' wives". That was only 25 years ago.

    This impacted on the tax paid by farming families.  I recall a family on the Eyre Peninsula where he was the local chemist and she was a farmer, but the tax department attributed her farm income to her husband because a woman couldn’t be recognised as a farmer. 

    BPW Australia had many rural clubs at the time, so we lobbied the federal government to recognise that women who owned or managed farms must be recognised as farmers for all government purposes.  This change was achieved, but women farmers remain invisible.

    To address this, the Australian Research Council has funded a 3 year study called Invisible Farmer which involves a nation-wide partnership between rural communities, academics, government and cultural organisations. The project aims to create new histories of rural Australia, reveal the hidden stories of women on the land, recognise the diverse, innovative and vital role of women in agriculture and stimulate public discussions about contemporary issues facing rural Australia and its future.

  • 15 Sep 2019 9:32 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Journalist and author Annabel Crabb’s new Quarterly Essay titled “Men At Work: Australia’s Parenthood Trap”, she highlights the contrasting reactions to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison both juggling their roles as parents.  She questions the way male leaders are treated compared to their female counterparts, asking: why do we accept that fathers will be absent? Why are female leaders being asked how they juggle their roles when key male figures with small children are never asked about it?

    In her earlier book [The Wife Drought: Why Women Need Wives and Men Need Lives], Annabel observed that feminism had fundamentally changed the way women conduct their lives. But for men, nothing had changed. They still operated in precisely the same manner: marrying, having children and trotting off to work according to the 9-to-5 demands of business and for the most part enjoying better pay and conditions than their wives or female colleagues. She argued men would benefit enormously from spending more time with the children instead of missing out on this precious time.

    In her latest work Annabel argues gender equity cannot be achieved “until men are as free to leave the workplace (when their lives demand it) as women are to enter it”. Women have benefited from the sentiment that ‘girls can do anything,’ then surely we should ensure that ‘boys can do anything’ means everything from home to work.

  • 01 Sep 2019 10:07 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    At current rates of progress, the World Economic Forum predicts it may take another 202 years to close the economic gender gap globally. Although many countries are well-placed to maximize women’s economic potential, they are failing to reap the returns from their investment in female education. In addition, too few countries are preparing to meet the challenges and harness the gender parity opportunities posed by the changing nature of work.

    The Closing the Gender Gap report notes the need to look at gender discrimination, address pay transparency and consider targets and quotas for women in leadership positions – which correlate with BPW Australia resolutions and policies.

    The project aims to create global and national public-private collaboration platforms to address current gender gaps and reshape gender parity for the future by:

    National action: The Forum serves as an accelerator for national task forces, which successfully address current gender gaps and reshaping gender parity for the future in 12 countries. Focus is on closing gaps in labour force participation, remuneration and leadership, and preparing companies and countries for gender parity in the future of work.

    Business commitments: The project calls for quantifiable commitments from leading companies to increase workforce opportunities and accelerate gender parity in the future of work.

    Global exchange: The project has established an informal global community of practice of relevant leaders and experts for global knowledge exchange on closing the gender gap.

  • 25 Aug 2019 10:54 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    WGEA Director Libby Lyons sets the record straight: Equal pay is the right that Australian women won in 1969 to be paid the same as men for doing the same work or work of equal or comparable value. Prior to this landmark decision, men had the right to be paid 25% more than woman. Within organisations, unequal pay is sometimes referred to as a “like-for-like” pay gap.

    The gender pay gap, on the other hand, measures the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the workforce at an organisation, industry or national level, which is expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is caused by a range of social and economic factors that combine to reduce women’s earning capacity over their lifetime.

    When an organisation announces they have closed their gender pay gap because they are now paying women and men the same amount for doing the same work or work of equal or comparable value, they have not actually closed their gender pay gap. What they have done is close their “like-for-like” pay gaps. So while that is good, these companies should not expect a pat on the back from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency or anyone else for meeting their requirements under the law.

  • 18 Aug 2019 11:28 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Equal Pay Day was 31 August in 2018 so it has moved 3 days in the right direction – this year women must work an additional 59 days from the end of the last financial year to earn the same amount as men. At this rate, who knows, we could have pay equity in just 20 years!

    Equal Pay Day is a symbolic indicator of the significance of the national gender pay gap and why it matters for Australian women. It highlights the barriers Australian women still face in having the same opportunities and rewards in our workplaces as men.

    The Workplace Gender Equality Agency has calculated the national gender pay gap as 14.0% for full-time employees, a difference of $241.50 per week: a fall of 0.6%. Women’s weekly earnings on average are $1,484.80 compared to men’s weekly average earnings of $1,726.30, based on ABS data.

    Libby Lyons, Workplace Gender Equality Agency Director, said she would have liked to see a stronger fall in the gender pay gap: “What Equal Pay Day actually signifies is that every other day of the year is Unequal Pay Day for women. Australian women first won the right to be paid the same as men for doing the same work or work of equal or comparable value in 1969 – that’s 50 years ago!”

    [Un]Equal Pay Day is not about two people being paid differently for the same work, it is about the national gender pay gap. The gender pay gap refers to the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time base salary earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is a measure of women’s overall positions in the paid workforce and does not compare like roles.

  • 10 Aug 2019 1:01 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Results recently released by the Australian Institute of Company Directors reveal that gender diversity on the boards of Australia’s largest companies has not yet hit the 30% target. The latest AICD Gender Diversity Quarterly Report reveals that women represent 29.7% of directors on ASX 200 boards.  In 2015, the AICD called for ASX 200 companies to achieve 30% by the end of 2018, but by June 2019 this target had not been reached.

    Claire Braund, Executive Director of Women on Boards, said that the AICD is aiming too low and that the 30% target is out of step with Governments across Australia, the Australian Sports Commission, Australian superannuation industry and many other organisations who have set a minimum target of 40% and in some cases, 50% women.  Women on Boards has been advocating since 2009 for a target of at least 40% women and 40% men for boards across all sectors. 

    BPW Australia takes national action for women's equality – at work, on boards, in leadership.  We’re with WOB on this.  ASX 200 boards can – and should – do better.

  • 04 Aug 2019 12:33 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Christine Lagarde, the first female managing director of the International Monetary Fund, speaking at the Forbes Women’s Summit in New York City, declared: “There are only 6 countries in the world where there is no legal discrimination at all between men and women.”

    Or put another way: Of the IMF’s 189 member countries, nearly 90% have at least one gender-based legal restriction, from limitations on what women can inherit and whether they can borrow money to prohibitions on their ability to take custody of their children. Lagarde’s assessment: “We need to work on that.”

    The IMF aims to ensure the stability of the global monetary system, promote international trade and economic growth, and reduce poverty. It wields $1 trillion in lending power for its members. Lagarde sees empowering women as more than a social imperative, because it has the potential to transform the global economy. As inequality rises, the gap between men’s and women’s participation in the workforce is hovering at around 16%, even in advanced economies. She believes major economic woes could be lessened by narrowing this gap. “It’s just a no-brainer that economies would grow, productivity would improve, and we would have more stability,” she said.

  • 28 Jul 2019 1:02 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    The first global index measuring efforts to end gender inequality finds countries are not doing enough to improve women’s lives, and no country in the world is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030.

    Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the index, launched in June, “should serve as a wake-up call to the world”.

    Even the Nordic states, which score highly in the index, would need to take huge strides to fulfil gender commitments in the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which 193 countries signed up to in 2015. The goals are considered the blueprint for global efforts to end poverty and inequality and halt the climate crisis. The deadline to meet them is 2030.

    SDG 5 requires signatories to address gender inequality. The inaugural SDG Gender Index, developed by the Equal Measures 2030 partnership, found that 2.8 billion women and girls currently live in countries that are not doing enough to improve women’s lives.  The gender equality index ranked Denmark highest. Australia ranked 10th out of 129, the UK ranked 17th, and the USA ranked 28th.

  • 21 Jul 2019 10:25 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    In June 2019, the International Labour Organisation adopted a new Convention and Recommendation to combat violence and harassment in the workplace at the International Labour Conference. The Convention recognises that violence and harassment in the workplace can constitute a human rights violation or abuse, is a threat to equal opportunities, is unacceptable and is incompatible with decent work.

    The Convention provides a broad definition of "violence and harassment" and describes where it can take place. It defines “violence and harassment” as behaviours, practices or threats “that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.” The standard covers violence and harassment occurring in the workplace; places where a worker is paid, takes a rest or meal break, or uses sanitary, washing or changing facilities; during work-related trips, travel, training, events or social activities; work-related communications...in employer-provided accommodation; and when commuting to and from work.

    The Convention states that everyone has the right to be free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence, at work. It requires governments to take measures to protect workers from violence and harassment, especially women. It reminds member States that they have a responsibility to promote a zero tolerance. The recognises that employers can also be subjected to violence and harassment.

  • 07 Jul 2019 12:38 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Over the past few decades of Australian life, government policies have gradually offered more support to working mothers, particularly through childcare subsidies and parental leave.  But what motivates Australian parents in their choices around work and childcare?

    Historian Carla Pascoe Leahy from the University of Melbourne has been researching Australian motherhood from 1945 to the present. Her oral histories, reported in The Conversation, reflect a wide diversity of experiences of Australian mothers, but there are consistent threads in their narratives. Most mothers want some continuity with their pre-maternal identity, to feel a sense of meaningful contribution to their society, and to enjoy their relationships with their children.

    Her conclusions: if government fails to comprehend the reasons why mothers choose to engage with different supports, family policy will be of limited effectiveness. Workforce participation and economic productivity are reasonable objectives of government policy, but they are not sufficient on their own.

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