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Media Release: This election who’s standing up for Victorian women? (11/11/14)

This Thursday 13 November 10am to 11.30am WIRE Women’s Information is asking representatives of the three major political parties – Danielle Green MP, Colleen Hartland MLC and Andrea Coote MLC – what they will do for Victorian women.

Where: WIRE Women’s Information at 372 Spencer Street, West Melbourne 

Media welcome. WIRE CEO Samiro Douglas will be available for comment. www.wire.org.au/stateelection

It is hard to be a woman in Victoria. Whether working or studying, single or partnered, childless or a parent, young or old, women are continually disadvantaged simply because they are women. So WIRE Women’s Information is asking the major political parties what they are going to do about the following issues that Victorian women face everyday over their lifetime.

Women are still not safe from men’s violence at home or on the streets.

Every week, a woman in Australia is killed by an intimate partner or ex-partner. In Victoria, family violence is the leading cause of death for women between 15 and 44 years[i] and is also the most commonly cited cause of homelessness for women and children in Victoria. As a woman, you have a 1 in 3 chance of experiencing family violence (including financial abuse) in your lifetime, and this can continue to impact you financially long after you have left the relationship[ii]. As a woman you are over 4 times more likely to have been sexually assaulted since the age of 15, than if you were a man[iii]. While public awareness of men’s violence against women has increased and there have been some strategic and policy changes, much more still needs to be done to stop this violence and keep women and children safe.

You may be better qualified but as a woman you will be paid less than your male peers.

As a woman, you are more likely to be better educated than your male peers[iv] but will still earn $283.20 a week less (18.2%) than if you were a man (based on average weekly fulltime earnings)[v]. And this gender pay gap has been widening since 2004. If you are going for senior and leadership roles at work and in politics, then you face an uphill battle. Women hold only 3% of chair positions and 3.5% of CEOs in the ASX 200[vi]; even in women-dominated sectors, there are more men than women on boards and as CEOs[vii].

It doesn’t pay to be a working mother in a man’s world.

Many workplaces are still set up for the male full-time worker with no caring responsibilities. If you are a mother, you are more likely than men to be working part-time or casually (and getting less income) to fulfil unpaid caring responsibilities – the undervalued work of caring for children or sick family members still falls mainly into the laps of women. If a woman takes a break from paid employment to care for family, they are less likely to have the same income growth rate as their male peers even if they return to fulltime paid work. Working mothers know that affordable accessible childcare is hard to find. The lack of good quality, affordable childcare can mean unemployment for single mothers who then face the prospect of poverty and homelessness for themselves and their children.

And good luck with retirement.

By the time you are 55 years old, you will probably have less than half the superannuation of men[viii] and have a higher chance of experiencing housing stress than men of the same age. In 2012-2013, 4,880 women aged over 55 sought access to homelessness services in Victoria, a 30% rise in the previous year[ix].

So, who’s going to stand up for you this election?

In Victoria women comprise only one-third of both chambers in parliament; as at 30 April 2014 women made up less than a quarter of all ministry positions in Victoria (21.7%) and slightly over a third of all shadow ministerial positions (37.5%)[x].

–end of media release—

MEDIA INTERVIEW:  WIRE CEO Samiro Douglas 0428 851 149 sdouglas@wire.org.au 

For other queries please contact Mi Fon Lew (03) 9348 9416 (Option 5) communication@wire.org.au

Download WIRE Media Release

[i] VicHealth, January 6, 2014, The Health Costs of Violence: Measuring the burden of disease caused by intimate partner violence, http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/Publications/Freedom-from-violence/The-Health-Costs-of-Violence.aspx

[ii] WIRE Women’s Information and Referral Exchange, August 2014, Relationship problems and money: women talk about financial abuse, Prue Cameron

[iii] Australian Statistic Bureau 4906.0 Personal Safety, Australia, 2012 http://www.aifs.gov.au/acssa/statistics.html

[iv] Workplace Gender Equality Agency, August 2014, Gender workplace statistics at a glance

[v] News Corporation Australia, August 15, 2014, Women earn less than men as gender gap grows, Lauren Wilson http://www.news.com.au/finance/women-earn-less-than-men-as-gender-gap-grows/story-e6frfm1i-1227024676703

[vi] Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2012 Australian Census of Women in Leadership

[vii]The Sydney Morning Herald  November 9 2014, CEO Of National Council of Single Mothers and Their Children Terese Edwards says hidden sexism is rife in non-profit sector http://www.smh.com.au/national/ceo-of-national-council-of-single-mothers-and-their-children-terese-edwards-says-hidden-sexism-is-rife-in-nonprofit-sector-20141108-11izvb.html?rand=1415455850376

[viii] Workplace Gender Equality Agency, July 2014, Superannuation & gender pay gaps by age group

[ix] The Age, April 8, 2014,Older women fall victim to crisis in homelessness, Julia May http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/older-women-fall-victim-to-crisis-in-homelessness-20140407-36957.html

[x] http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1415/WomanAustParl

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