Page 937 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 22 March 2017

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As was mentioned this morning in the current debate on cuts to penalty rates, this also disproportionately disadvantages women, because they are the majority of part-time workers in hospitality and retail, noting that the retail industry is the largest employer of women under 25. This persistent but subtle trend of economically poor treatment of women results in high level of disadvantage socially and economically.

We all know that there are disproportionate numbers of women who experience sexual assault and domestic violence. I commend the ACT government for its efforts in this regard. The ACT prevention of violence against women and children second implementation plan and the ACT women’s place action plan are clear indications that these issues are being taken seriously. The plans outline the government’s commitment to work in partnership with non-government organisations, business and the broader community towards gender equity.

The role of the office for women has been very useful in providing central policy, a strategic and coordination point for gender issues across government. Their support will continue to be invaluable, I am sure, in assisting the government to cast a gender lens across its policy, legislation and initiatives. The gender lens is another thing that the Greens managed to secure in the parliamentary agreement, to undertake disability and gender impact analysis as part of a triple bottom line assessment framework. This is particularly important because many policies impact differently on men’s and women’s lives, and this is because of economic, social and physical differences between men and women.

Policy and legislative consequences, both intended and unintended, often vary along gender times. It is only through a gender analysis of policy that these differences become apparent so that solutions can be devised, such as some of the issues that Mrs Jones raised in her proposed amendment to the motion and in her speech. The risk in failing to do so is that public policy responses will not only perpetuate existing forms of oppression against women and limit women’s and men’s autonomy but will also potentially create new forms of gender oppression and undermine broader efforts to achieve equality.

We know that addressing issues of violence against women is intrinsically connected to society’s attitudes to women and girls and intrinsically connected to the role of women in society. The World Health Organisation suggests that promoting gender equality is a critical part of gender prevention. Domestic and family violence and sexual assault are clearly gender crimes. Gender stereotyping, sex discrimination, unequal power relationships between men and women are significant factors contributing to the prevalence of violence against women and men. Traditional gender roles and attitudes, whether held by women or men, are associated with a greater acceptance of violence against women, while attitudes that support gender equality are associated with less violence.

What is trickier is changing how work which is often performed by women—the caring work, nursing, elderly care, disability support and child care—is valued in society. This is all people-based caring work. Possibly if we valued it more, we would end up with a happier society with more emphasis on people and how we get on with

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