- The Guardian
- Issue #2042
International Women’s Day 2021 Melbourne March. Photo: www.matthrkac.com.au flickr.com (CC BY 2.0)
Over the past 100 years or more Australian women have made many gains but huge hurdles remain to be overcome. The struggle is far from won. International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on these past gains and the struggles that lie ahead.
In 2022, men earnt $472 more per week than women in Australia. Australia has one of the worst government-funded paid parental leave schemes and one of the most highly gender-segregated workforces in the developed world.
In retirement, women continue to be disadvantaged, with the average superannuation payout for women being a third of that for men.
Workplace laws carry the legacy of a system designed around the idea of a male breadwinner without parenting and caring responsibilities.
Lack of access to secure family-friendly working arrangements, to high-quality, affordable early childhood education and care, and to adequate and equitable paid parental leave continues to undermine women’s workforce participation and drive the gender pay and retirement income gaps.
Women can become de-skilled and unable to find similar work when they seek to return to the workforce. High childcare costs mean that women on low wages gain little financial benefit from paid work.
Our system doesn’t work for women or modern families. Women don’t freely choose to sacrifice their job security and careers in order to manage a disproportionate amount of care work.
Work predominantly performed by women such as aged care, nursing, early childhood education, cleaning, and teaching is lower-paid and less secure because of gendered assumptions and discriminatory views about the value and complexity of the work. This essential and skilled work must be properly valued by governments and employers.
The Communist Party of Australia (CPA) advocates for:
- The immediate introduction of equal pay for work of equal value;
- Part-time and full-time employment to be on a permanent basis with full rights to all entitlements;
- Reforms to aged care that address chronic workforce shortages, low pay, lack of access to training, and inadequate staff to resident ratios;
- Free, universal access to quality early childhood education and care, delivered by highly skilled, properly paid and securely employed educators, including after-hours, vacation, and occasional care, in communities, schools and workplaces;
- An end to social security payments based on relationship status, so that women have access to an independent income regardless of another family member’s income;
- Anti-discrimination and affirmative action legislation to assist Indigenous, migrant, and disabled women to become economically independent;
- Paid parental leave for at least 52 weeks to be shared between parents at full-wage replacement (or the national minimum wage, whichever is greater);
- 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave per year as a minimum employment standard;
- Closure of the retirement income gap, including payment of superannuation on all unpaid care-related absences, and a legislated pathway to a superannuation guarantee rate of 15 per cent, expedited for women;
- The right of women to safe, free abortion;
- Increased public funding for women’s housing, refuges, legal, and other services to meet needs;
- The enforcement of laws against sexual harassment.
The CPA recognises that only socialism promotes the dignity and value of all workers, including women. It promotes a balance between women’s social contribution through work, their family life, cultural, and other pursuits, and their individual development. Only socialism is capable of structuring society to achieve this balance.
The CPA highlights the importance of women being active in struggle to improve their employment prospects and their conditions of work. The CPA recognises the importance of women joining trade unions in that struggle. Women must take a stand alongside male workers to fight for improvements together.
It was Mao Zedong who famously said, “Women hold up half the sky.”
A woman’s place is in her union!
A woman’s place is in the Communist Party!