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Women for Progress 2022

The speed and strength of Australia’s recovery from a once-in-a-century pandemic will depend on the extent to which women can fully participate in the rebuild.

Convened by Minderoo Foundation Co-Chair, Nicola Forrest AO, ‘Women for Progress’ sees a group of passionate women from diverse backgrounds and experiences come together to highlight the role of women and girls in the COVID-19 recovery as a critical policy issue for government.

COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted women, exacerbated existing challenges and created a wider gulf of disadvantage, particularly for First Nations women, women with disability, LGBTIQA+ and culturally and linguistically diverse women.

The plethora of research over the past 12 months highlighting the pandemic’s disparate impact on women is sadly predictable and reflects decades of gender inequality and policy failings. Yet the OECD and many UN forums recognise that policies which support gender equality will not only benefit women and children, but also boost the economy and reduce costs related to a multitude of social harms.

The group has put forward the key policies they believe will ensure all women can play an equal role in the COVID-19 recovery and move Australia towards a sustainable economy where the full value of women’s contributions can be realised. In particular, the group advocates for justice and self-determination for First Nations women.

Most of all, ‘Women for Progress’ advocate for change for children – the future of our country – as stresses on families and challenges faced by women have direct impacts on children, who will inherit our society and economy and be the custodians of our planet.

With many voices but one message, ‘Women for Progress’ aim to highlight women and girls as a critical federal election issue. Why? The nation will be healthier, safer, stronger and more prosperous with a government that acts on this urgent call for change.

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Priority Policy Reforms

Early Years Reform

Building a vibrant and globally competitive economy post COVID-19 depends on enabling the workforce of today through increased female participation, and the workforce of the future through giving children the best start in life, particularly during the critical early years of their development. We call for:

  • A national commitment to develop an evidence-based early learning system that is universal, accessible and high quality, delivered by securely employed and properly paid educators and coordinated from infancy through to primary school.
  • Government funded paid parental leave at the minimum wage for 26 weeks, shared between partners. Phased up to 52 weeks by 2030.

WOmen’s Safety

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified gender-based violence and inequalities that drive violence. We need a future where everyone is safe, free from violence and can participate and contribute equally. We call for:

  • Change the National Employment Standards to include a minimum 10 days per year of paid family and domestic violence leave for all employees.
  • Investment in preventative and crisis housing for older women and people experiencing family and domestic violence (including those on temporary visas).
  • Implementation in full of all 55 recommendations from the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Respect@Work report.

Financial Equality

COVID-19 has shone a light on the lack of appreciation and respect for Australia’s female dominated care workforces. These industries must be valued if they are to support the demands of the future and contribute to a thriving economy. Increasing female workforce participation to support Australia’s COVID-19 recovery will drive demand for quality childcare, and an ageing population will drive demand for quality aged care, healthcare and social assistance. We call for:

  • Change the Fair Work Act to include gender equality as an express object, remove the need for a ‘male comparator’ and establish a new Fair Work Commission gender equality panel.
  • Change to income supports which disproportionally impact women, single parents and children based on the principle of ‘do no further harm’.

WOmen in Leadership

Ensuring more women including women from diverse backgrounds are in critical decision-making roles will be vital in shaping a post COVID-19 world that is equitable and sustainable. We call for:

  • Change the Workplace Gender Equality Act to require public reporting by all organisations with more than 20 employees, on all indicators including gender pay gap, cultural background and progress towards women in leadership targets.
  • Commit to targets and public reporting on women in leadership in the political and public service sector from 2023.
  • Support and fund all seven recommendations of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani Report.

Signatories

  • Nicola Forrest AO
  • Hon. Julie Bishop
  • Kate Carnell AO
  • Georgie Dent
  • Kate Eastman
  • Hon. Kate Ellis
  • Jacqui Emery
  • Marina Go
  • Ming Long AM
  • Hon. Jenny Macklin
  • Wendy McCarthy AO
  • Sam Mostyn
  • Professor Kathryn North AC
  • Nyadol Nyoun
  • Michele O’Neil
  • June Oscar
  • Mary Patetsos
  • Carol Schwartz AO
  • Professor Miranda Stewart
  • Natasha Stott Despoja AO
  • Lucy Turnbull AO
  • Natalie Walker
  • Danielle Wood

Read our open letters

Join the cause

Sign up to our mailing list to stay updated, learn how you can support the call for change, and spread the word to your network.