Page 810 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 21 March 2018

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to women at 40.7 per cent. Only 16.3 per cent of CEOs are women and 28.5 per cent of key management personnel are women.

This highlights the inequities faced by women in Australia, and across the globe for that matter, who are often employed in low-pay sectors, face high levels of discrimination in the workplace, take on a disproportionate amount of unpaid care work and often find themselves at the bottom of the economic pile. On current trends, it will take 170 years for women to be paid the same as men. All of this results in women having less retirement savings and an increased risk of insecure housing tenure as they age. The current debate on cuts to penalty rates also disproportionally disadvantages women, because we are the majority of part-time workers in hospitality and retail. I note that the retail industry is the largest employer of women under 25. This subtle but persistent treatment of women results in many levels of disadvantage, both socially and economically.

Reproductive rights are another issue for women. I am pleased that Ms Cheyne also touched on this. This morning I tabled a bill to improve access to abortions in the ACT. I hope that in due course this will be passed by the Assembly and that it will be a step forward for women. Equally, or possibly even more important, I think, is affordable access to contraception. I was told that there is an 18-month wait to obtain long-lasting reversible contraception through the public health system, which is why I asked the question I did of the minister for health yesterday. Regardless of what the wait may be, it is essential that women have access to safe and affordable contraception. Women should be able to control their own bodies, and every child should be a wanted child.

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

The role of the Office for Women is invaluable in providing a central policy, strategic and coordination point for gender issues across government. Its support will be invaluable in assisting the government to cast a gender lens across its policy, legislation and initiatives. That is another thing that we managed to secure in the parliamentary agreement: to undertake disability and gender impact analysis as part of the triple bottom line assessment framework. This is an item in the parliamentary agreement about which I am particularly proud, because a gender perspective is important for the very simple reason that all policies impact on men and women’s lives in one way or another.

Because of economic and social differences between men and women, policy and legislative consequences, intended and unintended, often vary across gender lines. It is often only through gender analysis of policy that these differences become apparent and solutions are devised. The risk in failing to do so is that public policy responses will not only perpetuate existing forms of oppression against women and women’s

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