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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 569..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

Australia has a particular role, because the Pacific Islands themselves, even when they group together in the Pacific Island commission, just do not have the capacity to influence discussions.

It is also a well-known fact that women are overly represented amongst the poor. The United Nations uses a figure of 70 per cent, and we could give or take a percentage there. Nonetheless, that is a generally accepted figure these days. Why is that? Why am I talking about gender? The reason is that women, in their traditional roles, have responsibility for caring for the most vulnerable in most societies. That is not just in Australian society, where perhaps that is less of a traditional role, and it is not just the most vulnerable, because, as they say, behind every powerful man is usually a woman. Therefore, women have to clean up the mess; women have to gather the fuel; women have to get the water. We know that women have to walk many kilometres in many countries in the world just to get a bucket of water, which is their sole allowance for the day.

Consequently, when the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations issued a statement entitled "Women must participate in all aspects of the climate change debate", I wanted to have a look at how ACT women were affected. I was fortunate, because the ACT government recently commissioned some research. Fortunately it is one of the few bits of data that is gender disaggregated. I was able to see the relative positions of women to men on a number of issues. I have not got time, unfortunately, to go into all of these—I might get time on another occasion perhaps—but I would commend this research to members.

In the ACT, for instance, women were more concerned about sustainability issues—91 per cent to 81 per cent; they were more likely to compost food and garden refuse—67 to 59 per cent; they were more likely to avoid plastic bags—86 to 77 per cent. Of course, to some extent this reflects the traditional role of women where women are more likely to be doing the shopping and to be in the kitchen dealing with food wastes, but the sustainability issue is an interesting one.

The research continues: women are less likely to take steps to reduce car use. That, of course, is probably due to the children factor and the fact that they have to go to many places on each trip. They are more likely to take shorter showers—86 per cent to 68 per cent; they are more likely to reuse laundry and shower water—72 to 50 per cent—and we know why that is, don't we; they are more likely to check soil moisture before watering—50 per cent to 36 per cent; they are more likely to take materials to Revolve or Aussie Junk—67 per cent to 44 per cent; they are more likely to feel a personal responsibility to do the right thing—85 per cent to 75 per cent; and they are more likely to consider cost a barrier to living sustainably—42 per cent to 28 per cent.

On it goes, Mr Speaker. Both men and women are equally concerned about climate change, but women are more likely to believe that human activity contributes a lot to climate change—76 per cent to 71 per cent; and women are also more likely to believe that the government should enforce actions to decrease greenhouse gas emissions of business and individuals—96 per cent to 91 per cent. Women were less aware of ways to address climate change than men, but they were more willing to change their behaviour to decrease climate change.


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