How far have we come on Equal Pay?

Each year on Equal Pay Day, politicians boast about (or denigrate, depending on their political persuasion and position in parliament) the progress made towards bridging the gender pay gap and undertake to continue efforts to ensure women are equal in the workforce.

This year, the Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said it was encouraging that the gender pay gap narrowed further over the last twelve months, with latest figures showing it has fallen from 16.3 per cent to 15.3 per cent.

“The further reduction in the gender pay gap demonstrates the Turnbull Government’s policies to assist women breakdown barriers in the workforce are delivering results, yet, I remain acutely aware that more work needs to be done,” Minister Cash said.

Senator Cash then proceeded to list the government’s programs, for example that in July 2017 the Turnbull Government launched Towards 2025, an Australian Government strategy to boost women’s workforce participation that outlined the government’s roadmap to reduce the gender participation gap by 25 per cent by 2025.

The strategy detailed actions the government was planning to take to address some of the drivers of pay inequity in Australia, including for flexible work, childcare costs and early education.

“By boosting workforce participation of women we can further close the gender pay gap, raise living standards across the board and secure Australia’s future prosperity,” Minister Cash said.

The programs include:

  • Funding new child care and early learning reforms, which are estimated to encourage more than 230,000 families increase their workforce participation.
  • Expanding the ParentsNext pre-employment program, which helps parents of young children plan and prepare for work by connecting them with services in their local community.
  • Implementing the Australian Public Service Gender Equality Strategy, which requires every agency to set targets for gender equality in leadership positions and boost gender equality more broadly.
  • Investing $13 million over five years in getting more women into science, technology, engineering and maths under the National Innovation and Science Agenda.
  • Setting a target of women holding 50 per cent of government board positions overall and strengthening the BoardLink program.
  • Partnering with businesses to support women into leadership positions through scholarships provided by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
  • Continuing funding the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

The opposition disagrees

Labor said today’s Equal Pay Day marks the 66th extra day since the end of the financial year that women must work to earn the same as men.

Shadow Minister For Education and Shadow Minister For Women The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP said in a statement: “For 20 years, there has been no real progress reducing gender pay inequity in Australia. And earlier this year, a Federal Government agency told Parliament that Australia is 50 years away from closing the pay gap.

“A recent Senate Inquiry, led by Labor Senator Jenny McAllister, found Australia needed a national policy framework to achieve gender pay equity.

“Instead, the government has thrown his full support behind cuts to penalty rates, which have been proven to have a disproportionate impact on women.” (Such as childcare workers, earning on average $21 per hour.)



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