Page 86 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 February 2018

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are not a minority or a special needs group. We make up more than half the population, and our gender should be a primary consideration in public policy.

We can and should also consider the impacts from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultural background of intersectional disadvantage such as being a woman, a woman with a disability, a lesbian or trans woman, a woman with non-Christian religious beliefs, a woman experiencing some other kind of marginalisation or disadvantage. Often there are multiple layers to a woman’s identity which can in many instances compound the inequity which is being faced by being female.

Let us look at some basic facts. There is still a gender pay gap in Australia and the ACT. While we do better here than in most of the nation, that gap has widened by 1.5 per cent in the past year. The federal government’s workplace gender equity agency showed that the ACT’s pay gap stood at 12.4 per cent in May 2017, up from 10.9 per cent a year earlier. What this means is that, on average, for every hundred dollars a male earns in Canberra, a female earns only $87.6. Women will have less disposable income and then in the fullness of time less superannuation in their retirement years. This gap exists partly because women are more often in part-time employment or employed in traditionally female industries such as child care, aged care, disability support and community services, which, being traditionally female, are traditionally low paid.

Even in the Australian public service the gender pay gap exists. The 2016-17 Australian Public Service Remuneration report considered this gap for the first time, finding across the entire workforce that the average base salary for women was $84,104, well below the $92,000 base salary for men. The 2016-17 State of the service report for the ACT also showed a gender pay gap of 3.1 per cent, with women on average earning $89,000 compared to men on $92,000. While we do have a higher proportion of women earning over $120,000 and 44.7 per cent of women in senior executive positions, there is still a way to go. Nationally, women are significantly under-represented on company boards and in senior management roles and the proportion of women on company boards is stuck at just under 25 per cent while only 38 per cent of managers are women.

But considering this gender gap goes beyond wages and income, we should look at services and use. Who uses the various modes of transport? Who uses social housing and homelessness services? And, importantly, who is benefiting from various policy decisions? For example, we know that women bear a disproportionate burden of experiencing family violence. Men are more than twice as likely as women to report feeling safe walking alone at night: 72 per cent of men compared to 34 per cent of women. More men with a disability access services and support than women with a disability, despite the fact there are more women with disabilities.

Almost 90 per cent of single-head households in the ACT are headed by females, and nationally and locally more women are clients of homelessness services than men. Females in the ACT were 57 per cent of all the clients supported by homelessness services in 2016-17.

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