Image reproduced with permission of Cathy Wilcox
The Federal Government's much lauded 2021-22 Women's Budget Statement has been described as a glossy 80-page document that simply collects and exhibits measures specifically targetting women by the independent feminist organisation, National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW).
The annual review, sponsored by Women on Boards, is prepared by a highly credible team of 30+ sector experts led by Dr Helen Hodgson, Professor, Curtin Law School, Women in Social Economic Research Cluster, Curtin University, Chair of the NFAW Social Policy Committee.
In the overview document (available here) NFAW states that for too many years women have carried a heavier share of unpaid work in the economy, which has affected our economic security; left us vulnerable to violence at home and at work; and affected our health and wellbeing.
The 2021-22 Women’s Budget statement is still at heart a glossy: it does not systematically examine the mainstream budget initiatives to determine whether they have a gendered outcome, intentional or not. The result of this silence is that the WBS seriously under-reports 2021 budget outlays which should have an impact on women.
Despite significant outlays in the care sector, the Women’s Economic Security Statement appears generally to operate on the conviction that the best that can be done for women in the workforce is to move them out of the female-dominated sector into male-dominated stem and non-traditional work. Given about 80 per cent of Australians work in services (and 90 per cent of working women), this is not really a viable strategy.
It is also an odd strategy to pursue given the broad budget focus on care services, if not actually on care service providers.
- Future WBS documents systematically review mainstream budget initiatives to provide an understanding of how they are likely to impact on women and men, and document those gendered budget outcomes.
- As part of its pivot to gender-responsive budgeting, government initiate an early consultation with women’s organisations prior to developing its budget priorities and bids. This consultation should be part of the broader gender impact analysis that should precede and underpin any final budget decisions.
- Responsibility for preparing an annual Women’s Budget Statement be given to the Parliamentary Budget Office.
- Any future Women’s Economic Security package address the workforce problems, including job insecurity and work value issues, affecting the service sector, where 90 per cent of working women are employed.
- Government adopt a transparent and consultative approach to the foreshadowed review of the focus of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
There are a series of specific papers and a set of recommendations in each of the following areas of focus: Respect@Work, young women, older women , ATSI women, migrant and refugee women, women with disabilities, tax & business revenue, superannuation, infrastructure, climate change & energy, housing and homelessness, social services, education and training, employment, health and international aid.
Women on Boards is proud to support the voluntary efforts of all involved in the very rigorous review of the gender lens on the budget.