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Queensland’s Minister for Women, Di Farmer, tells QSuper barriers to women’s economic security, participation and leadership, safety, and health must be tackled head-on to continue delivering improving report cards on gender equity in Queensland.
When it comes to gender equity, Queensland’s Minister for Women, Di Farmer, is pleased by recent progress and by the government’s reaffirmation of its commitment via funding in the recent State Budget.
“In (the recent) budget we continue to provide strong foundations for women, children, young people and families so they are ready to take on the challenges of the future,” she said.
An example of this progress is the Women on Boards initiative: the number of women serving on Queensland Government bodies has jumped from 31% in July 2015 to 45% by 31 March 2018.1 And, for the first time since records have been kept, more women than men have been appointed to S&P/ASX200 company boards during the first three months of 2018.2
Ms Farmer, said female representation should be encouraged at senior level across industry. “It happened over three years – and the sky didn’t fall in,” she said.
In addition to equity, there are also strong economic reasons to champion change: a report by Deloitte Access Economics3 showed gender parity improved board performance. It found gender parity on boards would help grow the Queensland economy by $87 million in productivity gains – and that is without any additional workers or hours worked.
In more incremental change, the gender pay gap is closing. In May 2015, the gender pay gap was 18.0%. By May 2017, the gap between the average amount men and women earned was 16.7%.4
While these advances are heartening, Ms Farmer told QSuper persistent barriers continued to prevent women and girls from fully and equally participating in Queensland life.
“There’s longstanding, generic issues. We have to chip away at them every year.”
“We know participation and leadership, economic security, safety as well as health and wellbeing are the four priority areas where we need to be vigilant and persistent in our actions,” she said.
“That’s why we will continue to support the implementation of the Queensland Women’s Strategy, and hone our efforts encouraging government, the private sector and the wider Queensland community to take action to achieve gender equality in Queensland.”
Ms Farmer said women and girls may experience inequalities at all stages of life, preventing them from fully and equally participating in all aspects of society. From women being over-represented in a narrow range of lower-paying occupations and locked out of some roles, to earning less than a man for doing the same job, to being more vulnerable to homelessness as seniors, women faced significant barriers, she said.
“Women are more likely than men to take career breaks to raise children, usually at an age when promotions and pay increases are most likely. Then, when women return to work, it is often on a part-time basis.
“Over time, women’s economic security can be significantly challenged,” Ms Famer said.
“It’s possible for women to get to retirement age without any savings. It’s very difficult for these women to participate in our society.”
A report card into how Queensland women were faring,5 released in April 2018, revealed a snapshot of the battlegrounds for gender equity across the four pillars identified: participation and leadership, economic security, safety, and health and wellbeing.
16.9% of women in the labour force are either unemployed or underemployed compared to 14.1% of men in March 2017.
45.7% of all female employees work part-time compared with 18.6% of all male employees in March 2017.
Women account for 70.1% of all primary carers
Females comprised 59.1% of commencements and 60.1% of completions of higher education award courses in 2015.
Women, on average, earned $1,333 in a fulltime working week compared to $1,599 for males in May 2017 – a gender pay gap of 16.7%, down from 18.0% in 2015.
The largest gender pay gap is in finance and insurance services, with women earning $33 per hour compared to $54 for men.
Women accounted for 55.1% of people accessing government-funded specialist homelessness services in 2015-16
Both females and males largely did not experience physical assault or threat, with only 2.4% of females and 2.7% of males aged 15 years and over experiencing physical assault in 2015-16.
Women are four times more likely than males to be killed by a partner – 81.9% of the total 138 victims of intimate partner relationship homicides from 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2016 were female.
Female victims of domestic and family violence-related homicide and related offences accounted for 45.5% of all female homicide victims recorded during 2016.
Women are less likely to smoke daily – 10.5% of women compared to 13.5% of men in 2016.
Women are less likely to drink alcohol at risky levels – 11% of women compared to 31.5% of men in 2016.
Women are less likely to be sufficiently physically active for health benefits – 57.3% of women compared to 65.3% of men in 2016.
Females were more likely to be in the healthy weight range at 45.2%, compared with 31.8% of males.
Source: Queensland Government, April 2018, Gender Equality – How Queensland is Faring, at www.communities.qld.gov.au/resources/campaign/womens-strategy/report-card-all.pdf
Ms Farmer said gender equity was being tackled in Queensland across these four pillars with $51 million in continued investment in women’s programs, services and strategies announced on 12 June in the 2018-19 State Budget.6
“We know improvements in gender equality will take time, and I’m looking forward to seeing next year’s report card show even more positive news to celebrate,” Ms Farmer said.
1 Queensland Government, 2018, Queensland Budget 2018-19 Budget Statement – Women, accessed 28 June 2018 at https://budget.qld.gov.au/files/Budget2018-19_BudgetStatements_Women.pdf
2 Patten, S, 12 April 2018, Female board appointments outpace the blokes, Australian Financial Review, accessed 30 June 2018 at www.afr.com/news/female-board-appointments-outpace-the-blokes-20180412-h0yoo5
3 Deloitte, October 2016, Toward Gender Parity: Women On Boards Initiative, accessed 29 June 2018 at https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/toward-gender-parity-women-on-boards-initiative.html
4 Queensland Government, April 2018, Gender Equality – How Queensland is Faring, accessed 28 June 2018 at www.communities.qld.gov.au/resources/campaign/womens-strategy/report-card-all.pdf
5 Media Release, 10 April 2018, Gender Equality Report Cards shows improvements for women, Queensland Government at http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2018/4/10/gender-equality-report-cards-shows-improvements-for-women
6 Media release, 13 June 2018, Equality strides for women reinforced in State Budget, Queensland Government at http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2018/6/13/equality-strides-for-women-reinforced-in-state-budget.
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