Our Gender Agenda
The National Directors of UnitingCare Australia and UnitingWorld have added their voices to calls for greater Federal Government support for women and girls through the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession.
With the Federal Budget less than two weeks away, UnitingCare Australia National Director, Claerwen Little, says all eyes are on the Government’s economic and fiscal response to the ongoing crisis, especially as women continue to be adversely impacted.
“We know that women have been among the hardest hit by this health and economic crisis,” said Ms. Little.
“We know that they have done the heavy lifting at home, often juggling increased home responsibilities with remote working. And we know that many women – including many parents – have suffered reduced hours and even lost their jobs.
“As a nation we cannot allow this crisis to deepen. We must provide wrap-around support for women in all ranges of circumstances – from frontline health workers through to single parents living below the poverty line.
“So today we call on the Government to invest in measures that will support women and give them the very best chance to recover. We must invest in the care economy, universal access to childcare, adequate family payments and critical support for those experiencing family violence.
“Most of all, we must give women hope. Hope for a better future, hope for a better economy, and hope for a better world.”
National Director of UnitingWorld Dr Sureka Goringe says the pandemic has made life even more difficult for women and girls in Australia's regional neighbours.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been talked about as the ‘great leveller’, exposing the extent of our interconnectedness and the vulnerability of all people,” said Dr Goringe.
“The truth is that inequalities have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout. Certain people and groups are more vulnerable and are being hit far harder.
“We already know that the majority of the world’s poor are women. Women are more likely to work in low-paid and informal jobs with little or no job security and are traditionally overrepresented in sectors most at risk of contracting the virus (hospitality, domestic, retail, etc).
“Subsequently, more women than men across the globe have lost employment due to the pandemic, widening the already stark poverty gap between them.
“Lockdowns have also increased the risks of domestic and family violence, particularly in nations reliant on tourism. Thousands of people have suddenly been made unemployed and are spending more time than ever at home.
Dr Goringe said that Australia should recognise this hidden aspect to the crisis and adopt measures to help women in low paid and informal work, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, targeting our foreign aid program to those most at risk of experiencing poverty and violence.
“One specific measure is to commit to renewing the Australian Government’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (PWSPD) initiative,” said Dr Goringe.
“Long-term investment by the Australian Government to support Pacific women shape their own futures is critical to shift social norms that make women vulnerable to violence, inequality and poverty.
“Australia can choose to be a generous global neighbour during this crisis, showing leadership and committing resources to ensure women and girls are not left behind.”
Assembly President Dr Deidre Palmer spoke last week on the importance of a gender-equal recovery in Australia's response to the pandemic and resulting economic crisis.
“When we create a society that supports and empowers women there are beneficial flow-on effects to families, children, our economy and the whole of our society,” said Dr Palmer.