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ERA has signed on with 15 other organisations and individuals in response to the Senate Inquiry report into ParentsNext.

In response to the Report of the Senate Inquiry into ParentsNext, including its trial and subsequent broader rollout, a broad coalition of service providers, human rights bodies, peak bodies, researchers and advocates today calls time on ParentsNext.

One in five parents have had their payments suspended, which rises to 27 per cent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Compliance is onerous and the penalties are severe, often leaving families with babies and young children unable to make ends meet. Parents subject to the program are mostly mums providing care for a young family, with many experiencing financial insecurity in the wake of escaping family violence. The harsh reality of this program is completely out of step with the needs of struggling families and community expectations.

This week, the Federal Government signed up to a landmark United Nations agreement committing to promoting the rights of women.1 The Government agreed that social security programs should not discriminate against women, including by adding to women’s unpaid work; reinforcing gender stereotypes; or disproportionately punishing women, such as through financial sanctions. The ParentsNext program fails in all respects.

It is time to honour the commitments made on the world stage back home in Australia. We call on all parties to repeal the legislative instrument that allows the Government to enforce discriminatory compliance requirements and payment suspensions onto some of Australia’s most financially disadvantaged families.

We call for a commitment to listen to the voices of single mothers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are the primary targets of this program. Backed with evidence collected through 73 submissions and testimony to the Senate Inquiry, it is incumbent on all parties to demonstrate their commitment to gender equality and treating all families fairly.

Signed

National Council of Single Mothers and their Children
Council of Single Mothers and their Children
Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council
Australian Council of Social Service
Human Rights Law Centre
Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare
FamilyCare Shepparton
Associate Professor Beth Goldblatt, University of Technology Sydney
Equality Rights Alliance
National Foundation for Australian Women
Domestic Violence Victoria
Ella Buckland

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Over 50 people joined us (in person and online) last week for the National Women’s Alliance’s #CSW63 pre-departure briefing. There was a great deal of information sharing and connecting before take off for the UN Commission on the Status of Women next month! Participants heard from previous delegates, workshopped issues and CSW strategy and received training in “internationalising” domestic advocacy issues.

Some links that came up during the discussions:

  • Papers from the UN Women CSW Expert Group Meeting here
  • Report of the Secretary-General here (on which the zero draft is based) 
  • National Women’s Alliance submissions to the Australian Government Office for Women on CSW here 

We also heard from the Office for Women on their approach to CSW. The Government’s delegation will be led by Minister Kelly O’Dwyer. Our congratulations to Robyn Nolan from the National Council of Women of Australia and Nicola Wakefield-Evans from Chief Executive Women on being selected as the civil society representatives on the Australian Government’s CSW delegation. You can contact Office for Women on all matters related to CSW by emailing WomensBranchInternational@pmc.gov.au

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If you are interested in being considered as a presenter, Please send a 200-word abstract and a 50-word bio by 1 March 2019 to amirci2019@gmail.com

This conference will explore, examine, critique, theorise, and respond to key issues related to mothering in the contemporary globalised world, with a focus on neoliberalism, individualisation, and the emergence of new technologies. How motherhood is experienced, constructed, and contested in contemporary society has been conceptualised in numerous ways since Rich’s (1976) foundational work on the ‘institution’ of motherhood. These include ‘intensive mothering ideology’ (Hays, 1996), ‘the new momism’ (Douglas & Michaels, 2004), and the ‘good mother’ concept (Goodwin & Huppatz) among various others. Yet, old myths of motherhood continue to be perpetuated and mothers continue to face stigmatization and marginalization. This conference is interested in the ways motherhood exists today within social, cultural, political, and economic milieus that prioritise neoliberal and individualistic ideals, while simultaneously maintaining the expectations of intensive mothering. Topics include but are not limited to: how motherhood and individualism impact on identity, agency, self-care, and subjectivity; mothering in response to new technologies and online worlds; maternal activism and advocacy; embodied motherwork including pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding; motherhood and paid employment/volunteering; mothering of young adults and/or ageing parents; motherhood and disability; understanding family violence including surveillance and judicial systems. Submissions are welcome from, but are not limited to, scholars, students, activists, community workers, bloggers, mothers, and others who research, work or are interested in this area of scholarly and social activism.

Topics for the conference include but are not limited to:
  • how motherhood and new technologies impact on identity, agency, and self-care
  • mothering in response to new technologies and online worlds
  • maternal activism and advocacy
  • embodied mother-related work such as pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding
  • motherhood and paid employment/volunteering
  • mothering of young adults and/or ageing parents
  • motherhood and disability
  • understanding family violence including surveillance and judicial systems.

Papers presented would be 20 minutes long plus a 10 minute discussion time directly after the presentation.

To present at this conference, Australians and New Zealanders must be a member of AMIRCI. International candidates must be a member of MIRCI

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We have worked with the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA) to produce this analysis of the Women’s Economic Security Statement. 

As the dust settles on the inaugural Women’s Economic Security Statement (WESS), we’ve taken a closer look at the Statement, in particular the workforce participation and economic independence pillars, and what it means for women’s economic justice in Australia.

We are grateful to the many feminist organisations and commentators who have analysed the statement  and will hyperlink to this work throughout.

The WESS comprises $109 million over four years to fund a series of initiatives related to women’s workforce participation, economic independence and “earnings potential” (which look to be measures to boost entrepreneurial endeavours). Women’s economic inequality imposes a significant cost on women and the community at large and is an underlying driver of gender-based violence. And yet, women’s work underpins so much economic activity. In Victoria alone, women’s unpaid work has been economically valued at $205 billion a year. At approximately $27 million a year, the investment is modest given the size of women’s economic inequality. However, the WESS represents a much needed budgetary and political focus on gendered economic inequality.

The WESS represents a much needed budgetary and political focus on gendered economic inequality.

A Much-Needed Point of Focus for Women

With few new large-scale initiatives on violence against women at the national level there has recently been a vacuum around Federal gender equality policy. This is particularly the case with the Budget, with the Women’s Budget Statement, flawed as it was, last delivered in 2014. Without this, there has been no formal Government mechanisms to spotlight, deliver and be held to account on gender equality policy and progress.

Resembling a women’s “mini-budget”, the WESS draws much-needed focus but the challenge will be to integrate gender concerns into the mainstream Budget. The WESS is a valuable process but would be strengthened by ensuring gender analysis is infused across the entire Budget process. The effect otherwise could be to quarantine gender initiatives in a way that artificially separates them from the rest of the Budget. Further, into the future, the WESS should report on women’s economic status (including rates of poverty, time spent in unpaid work, rates of housing stress etc) and progress against a developed set of gender indicators (informed by the SDGs). This is what could ensure greater accountability for Government responsibilities to address gender inequalities.

Expanding gender in the Budget from the initiatives listed in the WESS to the revenue and expenditure measures across the whole scope of the Budget requires a comprehensive renovation of the Budget cycle to ensure that gender impacts are both analysed and prioritised. (ERA is soon releasing a paper on how Australia can do this, so watch this space!). Presently, gendered biases operate, with little scrutiny, to shape Budget processes and decisions. Gender-responsive budgeting is a critical tool to interrogate and transform this.

A solid start by @KellyODwyer bringing gender analysis into Govt policy. Congrats on the #womenseconomicsecurity statem’t. Now let’s build

— Equality Rights (@eraaustralia) November 20, 2018

Pillar One- Increasing Women’s Workforce Participation

 If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it

There is a solid and welcome data component to this pillar which includes an additional $8 million for the world-leading work of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) to upgrade their data collection systems. This upgrade has the potential to increase WGEA’s coverage to 75% of the Australian workforce. And, vitally, the time-use survey has been reinstated. Time-use data will be collected in 2020-21 for the first time since 2006 (an unacceptable gap). While the WESS indicates that following the initial survey there will be a “smaller ongoing annual survey that will build up the evidence base over time” it is not clear at this stage how this would differ from conducting the full survey every 6 years (as suggested by Good Shepherd here). We do know that a commitment to ongoing funding for the survey is critical as the last several years have shown it is extremely vulnerable when cuts to the ABS are made by Governments. You can read more about the importance of the time-use survey in our piece for Broad Agenda here.

Both data initiatives demonstrate a commitment to building a robust gender evidence-base. However, there remains an intersectionality gap in Australia’s growing gender data base.  The Government would do well to invest in increasing intersectional data on economic security and wellbeing to strengthen the evidence base on how women facing multiple and intersecting disadvantage are located in the economy. Moreover, the trick with all of this is to ensure that it forms the basis of future policy development.

Greater Flexibility in Paid Parental Leave (PPL)

Two important changes to PPL will enhance the accessibility of the scheme while keeping the Government scheme, as is, largely intact.

Parents will be able to split their 18 weeks up into different blocks over the first 2 years, rather than taking 18 weeks straight after the birth or adoption. The Government has identified about 2300 people returning to work before their full 18 weeks and then losing the rest of their Government PPL time every year.

Additionally, the work-test rules have been loosened so that new parents won’t have to have worked the 330 hours in ten of the prior 13 months. This no doubt reflects the reality of many women’s part-time and casual working lives.

Increasing accessibility should clear the path for more structural reforms to the scheme itself. At 18 weeks of the minimum wage and without superannuation, the scheme continues to fall short. As the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) point out, a 26 week minimum is the next big reform needed for the Government scheme and the addition of superannuation would line up with previous Productivity Commission recommendations.

In this way, the PPL changes are emblematic of this first WESS –they are important, technical adjustments that will have an impact, but fundamentally sidestep the bold, important reforms required to restructure our working lives in a more gender-responsive way.

One of the key challenges in strengthening women’s economic security is changing the way men work. As the next time-use survey will no doubt reveal, women are still conducting the lion’s share of unpaid work. We have to accept that women aren’t working part-time, they’re paid for just part of their work.  PPL actually offers a critical opportunity to reorganise this.

Approximately 75% of dads and partners take leave after the birth of a child and only a third of eligible fathers and partners access Dad and Partner Pay (DAPP). According to the 2014 Paid Parental Leave scheme evaluation, the introduction of DAPP “did not lead to an increase in the overall proportion of fathers taking leave in the first six months following the birth of a child, but it did slightly increase the average length of leave taken by all fathers in the first two months after a birth and change the composition of leave taken.” Co-parents in Australia who do take DAPP are taking an average of just over 12 days leave.  WGEA’s examination of the gender balanced parental leave schemes shows that high payments for parental leave and flexibility in when the leave is taken encourage more men take more leave. Sweden’s use or lose scheme offers co-parents 60 days that are not able to be transferred to another parent, a similar scheme is in place in Iceland. Denmark’s scheme enables shared leave of 32 weeks which can be taken concurrently or independently by both parents.

Outside of the Government scheme, recent WGEA data indicates that still only less than 50% of employers provide access to work PPL (in addition to the Government scheme). This signals a large proportion of the workforce for which the Government scheme is the only option and for which 18 weeks will have to do  (despite 26 weeks recommended by the World Health Organisation). Industrial frameworks need to be re-examined to facilitate PPL as a workplace entitlement, including looking at the National Employment Standards and the Fair Work Act more broadly.

Other initiatives in this pillar include: the establishment of a forum on reducing barriers to work, supporting regional employers to attract and retain women returning to work after a career break and scholarships for women in economics and finance.

 What’s missing?

The WESS coincides with the Future of Employment Services consultation but the two remain disconnected. A growing body of research points to the gender obliviousness of the employment services system and the relatively small scale of gender-specific programs and providers. For example, for women who have experienced domestic and family violence, employment providers need to recognise these specific needs and experiences. The recent Outside Systems Control My Life report from Good Shepherd has found that Australia’s employment services system and the concomitant Welfare to Work policy framework “does not consider the barriers that single mothers face in obtaining employment, such as lack of child care and the availability of quality part-time roles.” The report recommends an overhaul of the system to do away with the compliance and punitive measures and develop a tailored, people-centred approach.

Effective marginal tax rates are frequently cited as a barrier to women’s participation in the paid workforce. Secondary earners and sole parents are two of the groups most impacted by high effective marginal tax rates (EMTRs) and women make up a large proportion of both groups. Effective marginal tax rates are a function of the interaction of the tax and transfer systems. As the Productivity Commission describes, EMTRs “measure how much money a person would retain from earning an extra dollar after income tax and the loss of welfare benefits”. The combination of ordinary tax rates with the loss of transfer payments (such as family tax benefits and income support), as well as the costs of child care, coalesce to create high effective marginal tax rates. For both secondary earners and sole parents with children under school age, high EMTRs are produced because of the cumulative impact of family tax benefits, income support and child care subsidies. The result is diminishing returns on additional hours and days worked and thus high EMTRs are a disincentive to full-time paid work.  This is an issue for which there is no easy fix, however, the modelling and data to test policy and tax decisions on EMTRs for different groups is available within Government. It is a matter of ensuring that policy objectives to address EMTRs as a barrier for women’s workforce participation are prioritised.

Finally, the availability and affordability of appropriate housing is a key enabler for women’s workforce participation. And there is nothing specific on delivering women’s housing in this WESS. As the National Foundation for Australian Women put it in their 2018-19 Gender Lens on the Budget: “no woman can be economically secure without affordable, accessible housing.” This is an area that desperately needs whole of Government action.

Pillar Two- Measures to Support Women’s Economic Independence

This pillar makes clear the link between domestic and family violence and women’s economic security and wellbeing. This is an important link for Governments to recognise and grapple with and crystallises the complex and reinforcing relationships between different areas of women’s disadvantage. This is a first step for the Federal Government in recognising that adequately addressing women’s economic disempowerment requires action across a whole suite of gender relevant policies, particularly gender-based violence. At $35.6 million over the forward estimates, this pillar will introduce an additional $8.9 million annually for the measures.

Safety First in Family Law

This will see $7 million of new ongoing funding for legal aid commissions to ensure victims and survivors of family violence are appropriately protected from direct cross-examination by their perpetrators in family law matters;

After the recent passage of legislation banning direct cross-examination, following Women’s Legal Services Australia’s steadfast campaigning, funding to properly implement this measure is welcome. However, a larger existential threat looms with the proposed merger of the Federal and Family Court systems pushed by the Federal Government. These reforms are being pursued without adequate consideration for how they will impact on the safety of victims/survivors of family violence and their children.

 Small Claims, Large Battles

This set of measures includes:

  • improving the visibility of superannuation assets in family law proceedings;
  • providing family law property mediation;
  • establishing a new Small Claims Property pilots program,

which will effect important administrative and technical changes to make the family law system more responsive to women’s experiences of family and domestic violence and ensuing economic insecurity. The Women’s Legal Services Victoria report, Small Claims – Large Battles, found that 87% of their respondents involved in small claims had experienced family violence  and 84% had experienced economic abuse. Fundamentally, the “cost of private legal representation often outweighs projects settlement amounts in small property matters” and the system imposes a number of barriers to pursuing superannuation claims.  As WLSV reveals “many women are simply walking away from their entitlement to a fair division of property.” These measures have been developed from recommendations from the Small Claims –Large Battles report.

As AWAVA articulated in their submission on the family law review: The impacts of family violence are not adequately taken into account in property settlements. Family violence is not specifically identified as a relevant consideration in property matters in the Family Law Act. While case law exists, this is not always considered in determining the adjustment in a negotiation, which is the way most matters are finalised. As a result, women who have been subjected to domestic violence may have their actual contributions reflected unfairly. The court must take into account additional factors based on the future needs of the parties, including their age, health, income, property, financial resources, and capacity for gainful employment and having care of children. There should be a legislative requirement for the court to consider the impact of family violence when determining a property division, as proposed in the Australian Law Reform Commission’s recent discussion paper as part of the review of the family law system.

Women Pay the Price

The move to enable early access to superannuation for victims and survivors of domestic and family violence has been met with widespread concern. The implications of this measure are an individualising or privatising of a largescale social problem, of which the Government is responsible for addressing. As YWCA Australia asks: should women bear the financial burden of gender inequality? See the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance’s advocacy on this matter which draws attention to the negative implications for both women and women’s services:

“The choices open to women to pursue lives free of violence, abuse and control are structured by their access to resources and their autonomy with regard to how those resources are used. Measures to alleviate hardship and provide financial support at critical points, such as attempts to establish a household separate from an abusive partner, must therefore be pursued in a way that does not exacerbate economic gender inequality overall, or contribute to victims’/survivors’ economic disempowerment and poverty across their life-course… This approach is also inherently regressive, in that it would increase inequality by making the capacity to build a life free of violence even more dependent on personal wealth and income.”

And…

“We are concerned that broadening and normalising the use of personal savings (in this case, superannuation) as a way to meet the needs of women facing violence would further entrench the structural under-resourcing of the women’s service sector.”

No Interest Loans Scheme

In addition, the package includes funding for the Good Shepherd Microfinance No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS), providing loans for essential items for victims and survivors who are excluded from mainstream banking. The loans have been reshaped to be more responsive to the experiences of people who are building lives free from violence. To this end, the money available has been lifted from $1500 to $2000 and money can be spent on bond and rent (unlike other NILS). This makes sense given 66% of Flexible Support Package (FSP) funds have so far been used for safety and security, of which housing is included.  It is worth noting that the average cost of a Victorian FSP is $2676. Overall, this is a further indication that broader changes to  improve access to affordable housing would greatly alleviate the financial stress on victims/survivors, as well as the need for other forms of financial support.

On this note, NILS enables financial autonomy for women, but must be complemented by adequate funding for domestic and family violence service provision as well.  Any scheme addressing the needs of victims/survivors must be delivered through an integrated service response which is competent and specialised, and opens the way for support in areas such as housing, counselling and legal assistance.

It is important to alleviate hardship and provide financial support at critical points for victims/survivors, but these responses need to be grounded in human rights principles and be effective in meeting the needs of people with diverse and multiple experiences of poverty and disempowerment. There are concerns that relying on loans and retirement savings could mean that the economic impacts of violence may be redistributed across an individual’s lifetime but not substantially alleviated overall.

Schemes such as NILS have a role and are welcome, but we need to be working towards finance that does not..

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The following information has been put together by the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children (NCSMC) and can also be accessed here

What is the Inquiry? 

It a allows us to tell the government our views and experiences about ParentsNext. Including letters from DHS-Centrelink, DHS- Centrelink appointments, appointments and services with the ParentsNext providers. You can talk about any matter such as activities, reporting, exemptions, suspension, incorrect or confusing information.  It’s your call, as the terms of reference are broad.

How to write a submission?

Below are guiding points but there are no exact rules. Be clear and concise.  It doesn’t need to be long, and this is emphasised on the Parliamentary website.

Your voice: Remember you are the expert in your life.

  1. Introduce yourself (why you are making a submission) eg: I have been going to ParentsNext for eight months. You may or may not want to give the location.
  2. Identify the key points/problem. What do you want the committee to know? It may include one part of  ParentsNext or you may want to talk about a few elements.
  3. How this has affected you and/or your child.
  4. What would you like to see changed, what are your recommendations?

The process

Your submission, which looks like a letter, can be posted, submitted online www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/OnlineSubmission or emailed to community.affairs.sen@aph.gov.au

Your submission will be given to the committee members to read. The committee will decide whether to accept your submission and whether to publish it on the parliamentary committee website. Your submission is not automatically accepted and published. It may take several weeks to consider and process your submission.

Confidential Submissions

If you do not want your name published on the internet, or if you want your submission to be kept confidential, you need to include the word confidential.

  • Page 1. Your name and contact details.
  • Page 2. State the word Confidential and give a reason why you want to confidential eg you don’t want DHS or the provider to know. You’re worried about suspension, it may be personal and private etc.
  • Page 3. Your submission (letter style)

 The Address

Committee Secretary, Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Department of the Senate, PO Box 6100, Parliament House, CANBERRA ACT 2600, AUSTRALIA

community.affairs.sen@aph.gov.au

Name of the inquiry:  Inquiry into ParentsNext, including its trial and subsequent broader rollout

Key dates:

  • Submissions close 1 Feb 2019. You need to contact the committee Secretary if you want an extension – affairs.sen@aph.gov.au
  • Hearings possibly early March but it’s up to the committee to set the time
  • Report date of the inquiry is set for 31st March 2018.

 What if you have something to say but don’t want to do a submission?

Contact an organisation that will be saying the same things as you and ask for your statement, which can be one line, a paragraph or longer, to be included in their submission.

The National Council of Single Mothers and their Children Inc always includes the voices of single mothers. ncsmc@ncsmc.org.au  or PM www.facebook.com/SingleMumsInfo

Coming soon:

ParentsNext Survey: NCSMC along with a couple of others, are doing a survey for participants of ParentsNext. The survey will be confidential and voluntary and it’s another way of getting information to the government. Volume and numbers of voices help persuade the committee and it gets the attention of the media.

Facts, information and tip sheets: NCSMC is just waiting on a couple of points of clarification from the Department and will soon share.

Other ParentsNext Information

Media:

Senate launches inquiry into program forcing single parents to attend story time

Single parents forced to attend story time or lose Centrelink payments

Parents Vexed: ParentsNext is poorly designed to support mothers into work

Single parents could lose Centrelink payments if they don’t attend”story time” 

Petition:

Make ParentsNext Voluntary -over 2600 people have signed!

Facebook page:

Parents Against ParentsNext

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ERA has started work on the lead up to CSW63 in New York in March 2019, and we would love you to be involved!

What is CSW?
The official answer is that the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a Functional Commission of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. A more useful answer is that CSW is the UN’s tool for promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women globally. It is the only international multilateral forum dedicated to gender equality. CSW monitors progress on the Beijing Platform for Action, identifies challenges and sets global standards on gender equality and women’s rights.

What is happening in March?
CSW meets annually in March in a huge two week event to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate policies to promote gender equality and the advancement of women worldwide. From our perspective, it’s as though someone rolled a major international conference into a UN negotiation process. States, UN figures and NGO representatives come together to exchange information about where we are at on gender equality – what’s working, where the key and emerging issues are and who might be able to help whom. There is a main theme each year relating to one of the critical areas in the Beijing Platform for Action. In 2019, the theme is: Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

The term social protection covers all policy and other initiatives designed to deal with situations that adversely affect people’s well-being.  In a country like Australia, which has a State-supported welfare system and a strong concept of a ‘fair go’, that’s a lot of policy and programs to discuss, including all policies and programs designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability by promoting efficient labour markets, diminishing people’s exposure to risks, and enhancing their capacity to manage economic and social risks, such as unemployment, exclusion, sickness, disability and old age. (phew!)

The main output of CSW is the Agreed Conclusions – a consensus document which sets out the conclusions of the participating States on the theme topic. The document is not enforceable, but it is both a set of minimum standards against which a country’s progress to gender equality can be judged and a promise by nations about the action they will take. In our case, it is a document we can use to strengthen our arguments in domestic advocacy. More information about the Agreed Conclusions negotiations can be found in ERA’s Primer on Language Advocacy at CSW.

Meanwhile, NGOs send thousands of representatives to present hundreds of parallel events in a huge fringe festival to the main Commission proceedings. The networking and information exchange opportunities here are unique, with activists from across the globe swapping data, experiences and program ideas. NGO representatives also lobby State delegations and build relationships with their own States’ representatives and with potential partner States. Australia seeks NGO input into the development of their negotiation priorities, appoints two NGO representatives to participate on the official Australian Government delegation and stays in contact with NGO representatives prior to CSW and while in New York.

How do I get involved?
ERA is currently putting together an email list for people who are interested in being involved in CSW, whether through direct involvement or simply by staying in the loop. Let Helen Dalley-Fisher know if you would like to be on this list.

If you would like to attend CSW63 in March 2019 as an NGO delegate, you will need to register with the support of an ECOSOC accredited organisation at the CSWNGO site. Registrations close on 27 January 2019.

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In this series we have a chat with activists, advocates and stirrers making a difference for women and girls. To mark International Day of the Girl we caught up with the young feminist activist group Young Women Speak Out. 

Who are you?

We are five young women, Tanvi (18), Zahra (18), Tilly (18), Kate (17) and Anwesha (18), from Canberra.  We’re members of Young Women Speak Out (YWSO), an advocacy and campaign project focussing on issues that affect young women. YWSO was funded through a 2017 YWCA Canberra’s Great Ydeas grants.

Tell us about your campaign #JustHumanThings? 

#JustHumanThings is a photography campaign that continues the discussion around breaking down gender stereotypes people encounter in their daily life: from battling career expectations to challenging gender norms.

Why does this campaign matter to you?

We’re the generation that will not be restricted by gender and gender stereotypes, we won’t be defined by them, we won’t be limited by them.  We want people to see the things we do, the things we love and the work we do, are just human things.

“Gender stereotypes should not define how you express yourself and live your life.”

Kate, 17: “Gender stereotypes should not define how you express yourself and live your life.”

Anwesha, 18: “We want people to be free to comfortably chose what they want out of life, without worrying about gender.”

Zahra, 18: “This photography campaign is a way to really show people that gender doesn’t bind you, and give them the opportunity to connect with the stories of the people in the photographs that they can relate to.”

Why are gender stereotypes a problem?

Stereotypes are problematic when people rely on them as ‘the truth.’  A 2017 Girls’ Attitude Survey from the GirlGuiding UK shows 55% of girls aged 7-21 say gender stereotypes affect their ability to say what they think.” Stereotypes are everywhere, we live in a highly gendered society and that impacts on the choices we make indirectly, and often directly, on the way we share chores, the hobbies we choose, the work we do and how we express ourselves.

Plan International did a report in 2017, called the Dream Gap, which showed that at all ages, in all spaces, girls do not think they are treated equally to boys. Between 96%-98% of girls surveyed said boys and girls received unequal treatment

How do you think that you’re limited or will be limited by gender stereotypes?

We know that Millennial women are working full-time and still doing nearly all the housework.

75% of young women aged 18-25 said they do more housework than the men in their lives.   We don’t want that to be our burden, we want to share the load! If you’re paying children for doing their chores – make sure it’s equal pay!!

Kate, 17: “Maintaining a home should never be gender specific. Sharing chores regardless of gender is another step towards gender equality.”

Tilly, 17: “And we don’t want to be pigeon-holed – young women can excel in maths and so can dancers; both are capable of artistic and academic achievements.

What do you want #JustHumanThings to achieve?

We want people to start conversations, or to continue them, about gender and gender stereotypes and to see how it affects the way with think, feel and act.  As young women, we want more for our futures, we want there to be equality within, between and across genders.

Tanvi, 18: “The diverse opinions and thoughts of young women need to be spread and heard. When young women speak out, it should not be treated as surprising or unexpected. It should be a norm rather than an exception when young women speak out and are listened to.”

Tilly, 18: “Don’t doubt the impact you can have on others just by breaking stereotypes and succeeding in your passions; such simple acts can inspire and empower.”

What are you asking for people to think about?

People should be judged on their abilities, talents and words, not their appearance and assumptions.

People should be given jobs based on their skills, not their gender, because work has no gender: we need to break down gendered expectations around jobs, increasing the 1% of women in plumbing and 3% of men in floristry!

When does #JustHumanThings launch?

Our campaign launches on Thursday 11 October on International Day of the Girl Child 2018.  We want people to start, or continue those conversations around gender and gender stereotypes.  

How can people get involved?

We’d love you to follow us on social media and show your support for our campaign.  Find us on Insta and Twitter at @ywspeakout and Facebook at @youngwomenspeakout

Share your photos of how you challenge gender expectations and norms.  Join us in showing that chores, hobbies, work and passions are #JustHumanThings.

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Older single women are one of the fastest growing cohorts of people experiencing homelessness and most of them have never been homeless before. This paper identifies the underlying systemic and compounding causes of older women’s homelessness, examines the devastating impact of gendered economic inequality and the key policy areas that require attention.

It calls for and outlines a national agenda for action to address the alarming 31% rise in homelessness amongst older women between the 2011 and 2016 censuses and the incredible 97% increase in the number of older women forced to rent in an increasingly unaffordable private market over the 10-year period to 2016.

ERA is pleased to be a part of the National Older Women’s Housing and Homelessness Working Group. We join a coalition of community organisations, advocates and researchers calling for action on this urgent issue. Today the Working Group has released this report  setting out a roadmap for change with a series of recommendations to our national decision-makers.

More available here.

Download Increasing Housing Security for Older Women here

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Image credit: 2018 NAIDOC poster, tarmunggie-woman, by Cheryl Moggs, a proud descendant of the Bigambul people of Goondiwindi, Bungunya and Toobeah regions in South West Queensland. See more about the poster and artist here.

2018 NAIDOC Week began 8 July and will run through to 15 July.

The theme is Because of Her, We Can  – recognising, valuing and celebrating the courage and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Our 2018 National NAIDOC poster painted by Bigambul woman, Cheryl Moggs, from Goondiwindi. The painting portrays the 2018 theme, Because of her, we can! showing the courage and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. https://t.co/ESgEWyAvdB #NAIDOC2018 pic.twitter.com/Gy2H9oXdjl

— Dr Jackie Huggins (@IndigenousX) July 3, 2018

More on the theme from the NAIDOC website:

“As pillars of our society, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played – and continue to play – active and significant roles at the community, local, state and national levels.

As leaders, trailblazers, politicians, activists and social change advocates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women fought and continue to fight, for justice, equal rights, our rights to country, for law and justice, access to education, employment and to maintain and celebrate our culture, language, music and art.

For at least 65,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have carried our dreaming stories, songlines, languages and knowledge that have kept our culture strong and enriched us as the oldest continuing culture on the planet.

To get involved with NAIDOC Week, check out what events are on near you here. See all the action, stories and news on Twitter with #NAIDOC2018 and #BecauseofHerWeCan.

Aboriginal&Torres Strait Islander women are 32x more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence&10x more likely to die of violent assault. Behind these statistics, there are stories of hope, courage&love. FVPLSs see the strength&resilience of our women every day #NAIDOC2018 pic.twitter.com/u5UyRiH5Jb

— National FVPLS Forum (@NationalFVPLS) July 9, 2018

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In this series we have a chat with activists, advocates and stirrers making a difference for women and girls. 

The Lilac Foundation is a girl-led group campaigning for equal recognition of women in public monuments and memorials in Canberra.

Tell us about the Lilac Foundation. The Lilac Foundation is a non-profit organisation that is focused on ensuring that women of our past and future will be recognised for their achievements and contributions to society. The Foundation was originally founded by six Year Nine students who are determined to draw attention to and recognise unacknowledged women in Canberra.

What does an average day look like advancing the agenda? A standard day with the Lilac Foundation included emailing, making calls, writing up proposals and pitches and a lot of brainstorming. We’re very eager to keep moving along until we have reached all our goals and ticked off all the needed boxes.

As females in today’s society, we found this to be unacceptable and felt a great need to make a difference.

What drew you to gender equality activism? We were drawn to gender activism and specifically women’s rights through the encounter and exploration of Marion Mahony Griffin. Marion played a major role in the original design and further development of Canberra, however, she was not recognised for her efforts due to her gender. As females in today’s society, we found this to be unacceptable and felt a great need to make a difference. We hope to do this through our Foundation, which has the long term goal of paying tribute to unrecognised women through a walkway of plaques in significant places in the ACT, such as around Lake Burley Griffin.

In your mind, what does a society look like when the contributions and lives of women are equally recognised and celebrated? This society will be a place where significant women from history are as recognised as men, and many of these women aren’t spoken about in relation to their husbands anymore. Furthermore, the present would offer equal opportunities to both genders and there would ultimately be no gender pay gap.

How can people and organisations get involved and support your work? People and organisations can get easily involved in our work by simply offering support. We would greatly appreciate any help, ideas and input from the Canberran community, and it would be amazing to see others get behind us and support such a worthy and much needed initiative. People and organisations could do this through sending us an email to thelilacfoundation@outlook.com.au, visiting our website at thelilacfoundation.weebly.com or even just following our Instagram page!

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