Experts say Labor win is a win for gender equality


Labor’s Federal Election win is a win for gender equality, according to experts from RMIT.

Dr Leonora Risse, an economics lecturer at RMIT University, and a research fellow with the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University, said the election of Labor should see gender equality back on the policy agenda, backed by the success of a significant number of independent female candidates and the swing towards the Greens.

“There is scope for the incoming government to look at how to improve paid parental leave, and specifically to reverse the LNP’s proposal to remove the dad-and-partner pay component,“ she said.

“International evidence shows that specifying a dedicated portion of paid parental leave to fathers is necessary to bring about a change in care-giving choices and lift women’s full-time workforce participation.”

Distinguished Professor Sara Charlesworth is a professor of Gender, Work and Regulation in the School of Management, RMIT University and co-convenor Work + Family Policy Roundtable.

She said today women with the same qualifications as men earn less than those men, a pay gap that commences shortly after graduation.

Even in feminised sectors such as retail, aged care and childcare there is a gender pay gap.

“Labor has promised to make equal pay an explicit object of the Fair Work Act. It has also promised to establish an Expert Equal Pay Panel in the Fair Work Commission with a research unit attached. These reforms are a critical first step to decreasing the gender pay gap over time because they will make equal pay a focus of industrial relations and provide evidence-based expertise to inform the implementation of pay-setting mechanisms,“ she said.

“Meanwhile, both major parties took promises on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) to the election.  Labor promised a $5.4 billion investment in ECEC  to decrease out of pocket expenses for families and increase the number of households eligible for subsidised childcare.

“However, challenges will remain for families in accessing affordable quality childcare unless Labor moves to provide universal access to high quality ECEC.“