ECONOMY

Support young women and the caring economy, say top businesswomen

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“The next government of Australia must prioritize women’s economic participation and progress to help address both cost-of-living pressures faced by women and families, and ensure a strong, flourishing and sustainable Australian economy,” she said.

Ms Mostyn said young women, over-represented among low-income earners, had been hit hardest by job losses through COVID-19.

Chief Executive Women president Sam Mostyn says there needs to be more focus on the caring economy.

Chief Executive Women president Sam Mostyn says there needs to be more focus on the caring economy.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“What Australia needs, more than tax cuts, is a comprehensive plan for growth, which closes the widening social and economic gap between Australians,” she said.

The government has focused on the recovery in female employment through COVID-19, highlighting that female participation has risen 0.6 percentage points to a record high of 62.1 per cent.

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But it still lags male participation, at 70.4 per cent, while in New Zealand the female participation rate has climbed 1.1 percentage points through the pandemic to 66.6 per cent.

If Australia matched Sweden’s world-leading female participation rate of 72 per cent, Australia’s labor force would have an additional 1 million women.

Chief Executive Women’s top proposal is for a massive rise in federal investment in health, education, early childhood, aged care and disability care.

It argues every $1 million spent on education creates 10.6 direct jobs for women and 4.3 for men, compared to 0.2 jobs for women and one job for men through a similar investment in construction.

The organization has also urged the government to implement all 55 recommendations from the Respect@Work report including the proposal for a positive duty for employers under the Sex Discrimination Act. It believes at least 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave should be included in national employment standards.

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It also believes federal cabinet needs to be gender balanced. At present, there are eight women in the 24-member cabinet, including Foreign Minister Marise Payne whom Mr Morrison last year described as the “prime minister for women”.

Labor’s early childhood education and development spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth said childcare fees had soared under the Morrison government.

“With major providers hiking fees already this year, any small amount of relief provided by Scott Morrison’s dud childcare plan is already gone for many families,” she said.

On Sunday, the government announced plans to spend an extra $189 million over the next five years on ways to protect women and children from family, domestic and sexual violence.

The package includes $104 million to prevention organization Our Watch, $48 million for a new campaign on confronting the attitudes and expectations of men who condone or excuse violence, and $32 million for a consent campaign focused on young people aged 12 or more.

“Through this package, we will help address the underlying drivers of gendered violence – in particular sexual violence. This includes attitudes and behaviors that excuse, justify and even promote violence against women,” Senator Payne said.

At the weekend, the Greens revealed a $19 billion plan to make early childhood education and care free and universal for all. It would also extend universal access to early childhood education for all three and four-year-olds to 24 hours a week.

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