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Our Watch Media Release: Fixing the gender pay gap vital in COVID recovery

August 28, 2020 / Our Watch media team

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This Equal Pay Day (Friday 28 August), Our Watch is calling for workplaces and governments to not lose sight of the link between closing the gender pay gap, gender equality and reducing violence against women, especially as the nation continues to grapple with the health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Australia’s full-time gender pay gap is 14 per cent, with the gap hovering between 14 and 19 per cent in the past two decades. This equates to a gap of $253.60 a week. Equal Pay Day marks the additional 59 days per year that an average woman working full-time needs to work, to earn the same amount as an average man working full-time.

Like many others, Our Watch holds serious concerns that the long-term economic impacts of COVID-19 will only worsen the gender pay gap and slow or reverse progress on gender equality.

Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly said that Equal Pay Day was an opportunity to address the continued gender pay gap and its connection to preventing violence against women.

“This is not just about putting extra money in women’s bank accounts,” Ms Kinnersly said. “There are very real benefits for us all, including increasing women’s financial independence, which can help reduce violence against women.

“Evidence shows us that gender inequality in our culture and everyday life creates the conditions for violence. The gender pay gap is one clear symptom of this inequality.

“One of the drivers of violence against women is men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence – something that plays out both in public life and in and private relationships, when women have unequal access to economic resources.

“This is why increasing women’s independence and economic security is one of the many actions we need to take to promote gender equality.

“When women earn less, they do not have the same economic or financial security as men. This can reduce the choices and the level of independence that women have. We also know that financial control is a common form of abuse or coercion used by men against women.”

Ms Kinnersly said workplaces had a critical role to play – they needed to make flexible work arrangements genuinely available for both men and women, encourage women’s leadership and career progression and make sure policies and processes were in place to eliminate gender inequality and discrimination.

“The evidence shows that increasing the value and remuneration of jobs in female-dominated industries such as early childhood education and care, aged care and health care are also critical to tackling gender equality. These are jobs that this pandemic has shown are essential to society,” Ms Kinnersly said.

“We can’t allow women to be left behind as we recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

“Across governments, that means applying a ‘gendered lens’ to all policies and legislation. One example is ensuring that economic stimulus measures do not disproportionately benefit male-dominated industries.

“The gender pay gap does not occur in isolation, and neither does violence against women, but by addressing gender inequality as the root of both these issues, we can create a future where everyone enjoys equal pay, equal safety and equal respect.”

Media contact

Shannon McKeogh, Senior Media and Communications Advisor (shannon.mckeogh@ourwatch.org.au or 0412 612 039 or media@ourwatch.org.au).

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline: “If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.”

About Our Watch

Our Watch is a national leader in Australia’s work to stop violence against women and their children before it starts. The organisation was created to drive nation-wide change in the structures, norms and practices that lead to violence against women and children.

Find out more about our work to end violence against women in Australia.

The evidence
Woman holding baby.