This International Women’s Day, the Greens have announced a plan to deliver economic security for Australian women and work to close the persistent gender pay gap that sees too many women struggle to make ends meet, juggle multiple jobs, live in poverty or without a home, or to stay in abusive relationships.
Australia has dropped to 50th place on the Global Gender Gap rankings and the gender pay gap has barely shifted in a decade. Without more effective and targeted strategies, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency estimates that it will be 26 years before the gap closes completely. Australian women cannot afford to wait that long.
Studies consistently show that women’s workforce participation and earning capacity are higher where they have access to a strong parental leave scheme, flexible working arrangements and affordable childcare.
The Greens will invest $24.5 billion over ten years to provide a 26-week parental leave package, paid at the carer’s replacement wage (pro rata up to $100,000 annual, with superannuation), with “use it or lose it” provisions to encourage parents to share care more equitably. Single parents will be entitled to the full 26 weeks.
We will also require workplaces to consider flexible working arrangements and fund free and universal childcare to give families more options to juggle work and caring responsibilities. Because giving more women the option to return to work is good for women, good for families, and good for the economy.
Other measures in the Greens’ comprehensive plan include:
- Lifting the minimum wage, boosting superannuation for low-income earners with caring responsibilities to address the ‘parenting penalty’, and doubling low-income super offsets
- Reversing the unfair Stage 3 tax cuts which disproportionately benefit men
- Increasing the transparency of pay data and giving WGEA more power to act when employers fail to take action to close their gender pay gap
- Investigating long-term options to value unpaid care work
- Supporting female-led businesses
- Requiring a Women’s Budget Impact Statement to consider the gendered impacts of budget allocations before they are made
- Implementing all recommendations of the Respect@Work and Set the Standard reports to ensure women are equal and respected at work
- Addressing the housing crisis where older women are the fastest growing group of homeless, by building one million social homes over 20 years
Quotes attributable to Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on women Senator Larissa Waters:
“It’s pretty simple: women are busier than ever and they just aren’t paid enough.
“Women do more unpaid family work, including childcare, than men, and they’re punished for it with smaller pay packets, missed promotions, insecure employment, and tiny super balances. It’s shameful that in one of the richest countries in the world, the reward for taking time out of the workforce to raise children is lower wages, fewer opportunities, and, too often, poverty in retirement.
“The current parental leave scheme tends to lock mums into the role of primary carer and the loss of work opportunities that comes with it. We need to do much more to encourage both parents to share the parenting load, and to normalise working arrangements that help families juggle work and caring responsibilities.
“We know from the experience in other countries that more equitable parental leave, coupled with free childcare, has a significant impact on women’s workforce participation. It also helps to shape long term sharing of childcare and unpaid household tasks.
“The Greens’ plan will reduce the amount of time women are missing a pay cheque and provide families with more incentives, and more support, to share caring responsibilities more fairly.
“The Greens will also work to close the gender pay gap by lifting the minimum wage, boosting superannuation balances for low income earners, who are disproportionately women, reversing the sexist Stage 3 tax cuts which go largely to men, removing pay gag clauses, and increasing the penalties on employers who fail to close their gender pay gap.
“And we’ll get the Productivity Commission to examine options for valuing unpaid caring responsibilities and domestic labour, and reinstate the Women’s Budget Impact Statement to analyse the gendered impacts of budget allocations.
“We know the Liberals aren’t interested in improving the lives of women. That’s why Tony Abbott removed the gender lens on the budget in the first place, and it’s why they continue to pay nothing but lip service to women’s demands for fairness and equality.
“Australian women can no longer afford a government that cries poor when it comes to meeting women’s economic needs, while spending billions of dollars on failed military technology and subsidies to their coal and gas donors.
“At the next election the Greens will help send the Coalition scuttling to the opposition benches, and we’ll push the next government to deliver the economic security that all women deserve.”