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Policy reforms needed to boost women’s financial well-being

Issues relating to the economic security for all Australian women – a White Paper (June 2018) update

Since the initial economic Security4Women (eS4W) White Paper Defining the concept of economic security for all women, (2018 White Paper) was finalised and published in June 2018, progress has been patchy when it comes to outcomes and policy responses designed with the specific purpose of boosting women’s economic security.

Community attitudes to gender equality remain mixed and problematic, including in areas specific to financial security and well-being. Significant pockets of prejudice and bias continue to work against progress in addressing women’s financial security.

It is noteworthy, nonetheless, that in the last two years there has been a moderate narrowing of the gender pay and superannuation gaps. This is welcome, but the changes appear to be the result of broad cyclical economic trends in different sectors, rather than a structural change in the determinants of male / female pay rates and superannuation contributions. The differentials on both pay and superannuation are still significant and more needs to be done to narrow the gaps in these two vital aspects of women’s economic security.

Affordable and accessible childcare remains a critical issue holding back further progress in boosting economic security for women. This White Paper highlights, among other important matters, why childcare in its’ present form and structure, works inhibits the ability of many women to engage in paid employment. .

Policy progress aimed at enhancing the economic security for women living in Australia has been hampered and complicated by what was a period of subdued economic growth in the period up to the end of 2019. The more recent economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which appears to have a considerable time to run, is further holding back progress. The economic dislocation in the form of a recession with high and rising unemployment as a result of the pandemic, shows signs of restricting progress in supporting the financial well-being of Australian women.

This White Paper Update will hone in on the latest data and research, with a focus on the key issues in gender financial equality. It has revamped and updated where necessary the recommendations from the 2018 White Paper that is an attempt to set a framework for greater economic security for women living in Australia.  eS4W will continue liaising with policy makers who can address these recommendations and facilitate subsequent and timely reforms, aimed at addressing women’s economic and financial wellbeing.

The update of key facts and developments concerning issues to women’s financial security draws on the outstanding work of specifically focused groups with more specific knowledge and research in their specialised areas. To each and everyone of these groups, we are grateful for their work and advocacy supporting women living in Australia’s economic issues.

There has been significant progress over the decades with regard to issues associated with the economic security of women. However, as this White Paper shows, much more still needs to be done.

Download eS4W’s Update to 2018 White Paper