• 19 Jun 2020 4:14 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Gender pay gaps, segregated workforces, long commutes, expensive childcare and a lack of empathy and support for remote and flexible working: do we really want to return to normal? BPW Australia signed onto GenVic's statement: Gender Equity and Women's Organisations unite on Covid19 Disaster

    The Snap Forward Feminist Policy Network at Canberra University has submitted a long and comprehensive submission to the Senate Select Committee Inquiry on COVID-19 which is inquiring into the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In brief - gender equality must be central to recovery efforts: our economic recovery depends on it. The closing date for submissions was 28 May 2020 and the committee is to present its final report by 30 June 2022.

    The Snap Forward Feminist Policy Network is convened by the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation at the University of Canberra. It represents a collaboration of academics and researchers from the University of Canberra, the Australian National University, University of Sydney, and the University of Melbourne, in conjunction with a national network of women advocates, policy consultants and gender equality organisations. This submission has been endorsed by over 30 prominent individuals/and or organisations that are listed at the end of the submission.

  • 08 Jun 2020 9:36 PM | Angela Tomazos (Administrator)

    BPW Australia (the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women) has joined with the organisations committed to childcare reform to call on the Federal Government to stop plans to ‘snap back’ to the already broken system.

    BPW Australia advocates for a quality national childcare and early learning system that is flexible, available, affordable and accessible. BPW Australia supports subsidies and rebates, rather than tax deductibility, as a fairer system of supporting families incurring childcare costs. Childcare is a societal issue that benefits families balancing work and care; it is not simply a women’s issue but requires a mainstream focus by governments.

    As Grattan Institute has highlighted, “The high cost of childcare doesn’t just drain family incomes. It has a big impact on workforce participation, particularly for women. Women are more likely to be a family’s ‘second earner’, reducing their paid work hours to accommodate caring responsibilities. For many, childcare costs interact with other elements of Australia’s tax and benefit system to make extra hours of paid work financially unattractive”

    “The PWC report commissioned by The Front Project published in 2019 showed that $2 of benefits flow for every $1 spent on early childhood education. Now more than ever the need for evidence-based data to form strong and sustainable policy for our post COVID future is a strategic imperative” Jacqueline Graham, BPW Australia President, said.

    BPW Australia commends the work of The Parenthood and Director Georgie Dent for their campaign to say no to ‘snap-back’ on childcare. BPW Australia joined a town hall virtual meeting called by The Parenthood and moderated by Georgie Dent on 26 May. Over 200 parents and advocates unanimously agreed for the need to apply pressure to the political process and for policy makers to take notice of the value of universal childcare and learning for early childhood.

    With announcement made today by Federal Education Minister, Hon Dan Tehan, free childcare will cease on 12 July. For many parents this means making difficult decision such as whether to reduce working days or remove children from childcare completely. This will impact women more than men and further reduce the gains we have made over the years of women’s participation in the workforce. 

    Experts at the Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy at Victoria University advise that governments must ensure children and families are not locked out of early education because they can’t afford it. Ensuring access is critical for children’s learning and development, as well as economic recovery through parental workforce participation.

    “A post COVID recovery needs to be gender balanced. The Grattan Institute again provides evidenced that increased workforce participation by women can boost GDP by $11 billion in the medium term. Our policy makers need to step up and listen to the facts,” Jacqueline Graham said.

    To find out more of The Parenthood campaign and support go to www.theparenthood.org.au/say_no_to_snap_back_on_childcare

    To read the full report commissions by The Front Project , go to www.thefrontproject.org.au/news/media-releases

    To read the summary of findings by Grattan Institute, go to


    To read the expert commentary of the Mitchell Institute, go to



  • 07 Jun 2020 3:57 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    It took a global pandemic to see women’s work for what it is: economically valuable - women make up nearly 80% of health care and social assistance workers.  And the current free childcare that underpins this work will end on 28 June.  

    Associate Professors Leah Ruppanner and Andrea Carson in The Conversation provide an international comparison of childcare costs, finding Australia rates 17th for education spending on pre-schoolers. Their survey reveals most Australians don’t want the free childcare arrangements to “snap back” to the pre-COVID-19 system that was expensive and inaccessible to many families.  The 'free' childcare provided by grandparents that many families relied on is no longer available.

    Gratton Institute Economist Daniel Wood, Chair of the Women in Economics Network, proposes an alternative solution: not free but cheaper childcare by raising and simplifying the Child Care Subsidy to reduce the disincentives to work. Their modelling suggests a subsidy of 95% of child-care costs for low-income families, tapering down slowly to zero as family income increases, would cost taxpayers an additional A$5 billion a year, compared with at least $14 billion more for a universal scheme. It would enable many women who want to increase their paid work to do so, support the post-crisis recovery and boost GDP by about $11 billion a year in the medium term through higher workforce participation.

  • 31 May 2020 10:39 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    ABC journalist Annabel Crabb opines that Coronavirus has left Australian women anxious, overworked, insecure — and worse off than men again. Women right now are more likely to lose work that is paid and also more likely to pick up work that is unpaid.

    Professor Lyn Craig’s research into the gendered division of labour in the home during the COVID-19 lockdown indicates that, for households with children, social isolation and school closures have added 6 hours a day of care work, of which women are taking on 4 hours.

    The Workplace Gender Equality Agency is monitoring the impacts of covid19 on women in Australia. They are finding that COVID-19 may have greater economic, health and safety impacts on women: women at home are at greater risk of violence; a predominantly female healthcare workforce has placed women on the frontlines of the crisis; and the increase in caring responsibilities is likely to be shouldered by women.

    But a potential positive outcome: workplace flexibility may change ongoing workplace policies and practices; while working from home, under-employment and unemployment might see men taking on more care and domestic work at home.

  • 24 May 2020 9:51 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Hosting a virtual meeting is a different skillset to hosting an in-person meeting. If you are chairing your first virtual meeting, or if you want to polish up your skills, here are the YWCA’s guidelines for bringing the values of compassion, respect and collaboration to chairing a meeting.  They include 20 tips for what to do before, during and after the meeting.

    Don't simply adopt it; adapt it and share it with the chair of your next meeting, whether male or female, as simply A Guide to Chairing an Effective Virtual Meeting. 

  • 17 May 2020 9:40 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    The 50/50 Foundation hosted a virtual COVID Gender Network roundtable in which we heard what a number of women’s advocacy groups, academics and rights organisations are doing in response to the pandemic. The discussion focused specifically on tracking unpaid work and care – a critical issue that has become the focus of the Foundation’s current research. 

    Following the roundtable, BroadAgenda recorded an interview with one of the participants, Liz Broderick, past Sex Discrimination Commissioner and now Deputy Chair of the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls at the UN Human Rights Council.  The Working Group has released a statement calling on all governments, ours included, to better protect women and girls in COVID policy responses. 

    Unfailingly generous with her time, Liz discusses how a global “reimagining is required” and indeed possible. “It’s an opportunity to put care at the centre of societies, the economy, our wellbeing and then see what will shift.” She also explains the UN’s fear that home isolation is placing 980 million women in danger, given that “for nearly 1 billion women we know that home is not a safe place.”

  • 09 May 2020 9:51 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down. Professor Lyn Craig at the University of Melbourne explains how it has laid bare how little we normally pay for “women’s work”. Australia’s gender equality ranks 49th on remuneration on the World Economic Forum Gender Participation and Opportunity Index 2020 that measures workforce participation, remuneration and advancement.

    In April eS4W’s partner organisation, Financy, released their Women’s Index for the March Quarter 2020 – looking at the impact of COVID-19 on women’s financial progress. The Index rose by 0.4% with the pace of progress the weakest since September 2018. A slowdown in full-time employment growth among women and rising female unemployment relative to male reflects the early impact of COVID-19 shutdowns and containment measures. The Index shows women are 32 years from achieving economic equality with men, but this could expand due to the long-term impact of COVID-19.  Australian women are bearing the brunt of the job cuts.

    Joanna Masters, Chief Economist Ernst & Young Oceania, advises, “For women, the risk is that some of the recent economic progress slides backwards. This is not because we care less about gender equality but reflects economic consequences and perhaps diverted focus.”

  • 03 May 2020 4:10 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    With many regular workplaces shut down to 'flatten the curve' of COVID-19, millions of Australians are now shifting their work to home and there are a range of resources to help them adapt and cope. 

    BPW QuickBites held a webinar on Working from Home and Working Online that can be accessed online.

    Toni Courtney has produced a quick reference guide for virtual meetings that will be useful for BPW clubs running zoom meetings.

    And the Centre for Future Work has released a briefing paper that surveys the scope of home work, considers its impacts on economic and gender inequality, and proposes several policy recommendations to make working from home safer and fairer.  They found that women are more likely to be able to work from home than men, due to women’s over-representation in the professional and administrative occupations (who can work from home), compared to men’s over-representation among labourers, drivers and trades (who can’t).

    Not all jobs that can be done from home are well-compensated. Some call centre and routine clerical jobs have been organised around home work for years. Employers have used these arrangements to facilitate low-wage work by workers (mostly women) who appreciate the flexibility of working from home for balancing work and family responsibilities -  to save costs for office set-up and equipment.

    One silver lining from this crisis is that it may spark a re-examination of the longstanding discrimination experienced by women workers with caring responsibilities.
  • 13 Apr 2020 5:00 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Past president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Trigg, writes in The Conversation about her experiences of being a grandmother and the impact of education, employment and leadership on her and her cohort of feisty 1970s feminists.  It is an extract from an anthology of essays by an impressive selection of 24 21st Century grandmothers.

    We know about those 1970s feminists – many were and still are BPW members.  They may be grandmothers, but they are still social activists, seeking to make a difference for their daughters and granddaughters and all their peers. They fought for pay equity, and the laws were changed, but we are still fighting to make it real today.   Their work is not finished.

    Many of this generation of grandmothers from the 50s, 60s and 70s spent their formative years at university with free or minimal fees, marching against Vietnam, experimenting with sexual liberation, burning their bras and “making love not war”. They were experienced political activists, capable advocates for women's human rights, and generous mentors to the generations who followed and built upon the foundation they worked hard to create. And many still are.

  • 06 Apr 2020 8:15 PM | Angela Tomazos (Administrator)

    BPW Australia (the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women) has joined the organisations committed to gender equity and women to call on Federal and State Governments to ensure COVID 19 actions include a gender lens on pandemic response and recovery.

    As UN Women have highlighted, ‘during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, women make essential contributions as leaders and frontline responders. But they are also hit harder by the health, economic and social impacts of the outbreak. Paying attention to women’s needs and leadership will strengthen the COVID19 response.’

    “Working women are at the forefront of the COVID19 crisis, with a significant majority of medical, retail and hospitality workers being women. Women are also disproportionally impacted by additional caring and unpaid labour caused by work from home provisions. History shows us that world crises such as this can have the effect of stepping back inclusive policies. Australia has an opportunity to ensure that we come out of this crisis prepared to utilise the talents of 100% of our labour force, if we put a gender lens on our planning.”  Jacqueline Graham, BPW Australia President, said.

    BPW Australia commends the work Gender Equity Victoria (GENVIC) has highlighted and ten things Governments should do now to address the impacts of COVID 19 on women and gender diverse people.  Gender Equity Victoria issued a media release and held online press conference on April 2nd with joint statement from over 50 organisations.

    “Whilst the GENVIC joint statement is Victoria specific, BPWA supports and encourages all States and Territories and the Federal Government to consider these 10 points, and build an inclusive Australia to help us all recover faster.” Jacqueline said

    To find out more of GENVIC joint statement and endorse go to www.genvic.org.au/media-releases/gender-equity-womens-organisations-unite-on-covid19-disaster , show your support on social media or reach out to their office genvic@genvic.org.au

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