Budget is Gender Blind but COVID was not

The Government has advised women not to worry about how the Budget affects them because ‘Nothing in the budget is gendered’.

Policy-makers evidently need reminding that gender blindness is not gender neutral. COVID is not gender blind: it actively undermines the position of women.  The 2020 Budget was an opportunity to counter the effects of COVID by proactively supporting women.

COVID has taught us that women working on the front line in aged care and disability care (80% female), health care and social assistance (80% female), and child care (95% female) are critical to a functioning economy.

The National Foundation for Australian Women has commissioned economic modelling on the benefits of investing in the care economy, to be published with our Gender Lens Analysis in time for Budget Estimates. Investing in the care sector increases employment in female dominated industries; improves the quality of the care that is provided and frees up women to participate in the paid economy as jobs are restored.

Since 2014 we have published the Gender Lens on the Budget to get out the details the government hasn’t taken into account about what the budget does – or doesn’t do – for women. This year we have brought together more than 30 women—credible women with recognised expertise across all portfolios – for the 2020 analysis.

A preliminary review shows that the supports proposed in the budget are inherently skewed to support men:

  • JobKeeper 2 continues to exclude support for people working in female dominated industries (universities and child care) and for casuals not classed as regular and systematic – around 950,000 of them—a group also predominately women
  • Men will get a bigger share of the tax cuts: in 2020/21 women get 40% but it drops to 31% in 2021-22, when the LMITO runs out
  • Older women – the biggest group on Jobseeker before Covid regardless of any pre-existing programs, have been excluded from JobMaker payments
  • Industry assistance is going exclusively to male dominated industries – construction, energy, telecommunications and manufacturing.
  • About 2/3 of apprenticeships and traineeships are taken up by males

The 2020 Women’s Economic Security Statement also misses the opportunity to address the core issues. It does not take into account where women are in the economy, and support women in that role.  Instead of investing in the care sector it encourages women to move elsewhere into new businesses and STEM professions.

Is the Government blind to social infrastructure because that is where women are employed? Or is it blind to women because they are employed in services industries?

Contact: Helen Hodgson 0418 906 162 (note WA time zone)

The NFAW Gender Lens on the Budget is due to be released by 19 October

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