A report by Gender-wise Investing: A Springboard for Australia’s Recovery applied a gender lens to look into how women have been affected by the impact of 2019’s bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. Applying a gender lens is one very critical and useful step when it comes to designing policy and funding responses that reflect different effects on men and women.
Even prior to the 2020 bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia’s scorecard on gender equality was unsatisfactory, with gender gap in earnings evident in every single industry. Statistics show that around 1 in 3 women retire with no superannuation at all, as opposed to 1 in 4 men. Additionally, close to 10 women in Australia are hospitalised for assault injuries daily that have been caused by a spouse or partner.
The pandemic affected the entire population; however, the negative impact was greater on Australian women than it was on Australian men. During Victoria’s lockdowns, 67% of women became responsible for their children’s home learning as opposed to only 24% of men. Women were the victims of 3 out of 5 job losses across Australia and the majority of the frontline jobs that were exposed to COVID-19 and under pressure were women in the roles of nurses, checkout staff, aged care workers, and cleaners.
Australia’s progress on gender equity has fallen six places in the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Index to 50th in the world. By 2020’s year end, 25% of Australian women were experiencing very high levels of anxiety and psychological distress as opposed to 16% of men.
Julie Reilly, CEO of Australians Investing in Women said “If we take a gender-neutral approach to recovery, women will not only remain behind, they will fall further behind. This will not be a one-year impact, but a decade-long drag on opportunities for women.”
Some key points and takeaways from the report are below:
- When looking at the age range of women who lost the most jobs, young women were the most affected, resulting in potential long-term ‘scarring effects’ of unemployment during an economic downturn. The repercussions of this experience during in the early stages of their careers has the potential to then flow through to lowering their lifetime earnings.
- Due to the larger share of job losses during coronavirus, the increased risk of domestic violence and a heightened share of caring and parenting, women’s mental health has suffered.
- The fact that women allocated more time towards unpaid care and domestic compared to men, means there is now a realistic threat to female career prospects, risking a reinforcement these gender segregated roles.
Sustainable progress on gender equality is not simply about supporting women. It additionally requires an effort to dismantle the constant gender stereotypes, the unconscious biases, established systemic barriers and the evident power imbalances.
Some ways that you can assist the march toward progress in gender equality is:
- Stay up to date with Tilly Money articles where we decode tricky finance terms and give you updated information on how to be financially literate, competent and confident.
- Subscribe to the Tilly Money podcast for the latest interviews with industry leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians & everyday women about building a financially secure & thriving life.
- Spread the news and have important conversations about the gender pay gap with both male and female connections in your network, citing updated statistics and data.
- If you’re in a relationship or are co-parenting, divide up the labour and responsibilities in the home to break away from the traditional ‘home maker’ and ‘bread winner’ stereotypical divide.
- Evidence from past studies have suggested that the gender payment gap is narrower for women in their twenties. Seeking promotions early on in your career can make negotiating fair pay easier.
- Seek out a female mentor to learn from and be supported by. You’d be surprised how willing others are to lend an ear and some advice, especially when it comes to the practical ways they overcame adversity.
Closing the gender pay gap is not a small or quick feat, but our core mission at Tilly Money is to make financial information accessible, digestible & interesting for women. This comes from our vision is to build a community around strengthening females financial wellbeing, independence & literacy. Our purpose is to contribute to closing the gender wealth gap in Australia.