ALHR – Turnbull Government must publicly reject attacks within its ranks on the human rights of women and girls ’

ALHR has also called on the Federal Government to do more to ensure that Australia is meeting its international obligations to guarantee the reproductive health rights of women and girls’. The calls come in response to comments by MP George Christensen and incoming Senator Amanda Stoker at an anti-abortion rally in Queensland on Sunday.

MP George Christensen said that he intends to petition the Treasurer Scott Morrison to cease funding of family planning services that include abortion in Australia and around the world.

Anna Kerr, Co-Chair of ALHR’s Women and Girls’ Rights Committee added, “Members of the Australian Government should be unambiguously supporting women and girls’ right to autonomy over their own bodies and health. Those who seek abortions should not be treated as criminals and nor should organisations devoted to protecting women and girls, especially victims of violence, be targeted for their pro-choice policy positions.”


WLS stair climb fundraiser organised for DV victims

‘River to Rooftop’, being held on Friday, 20 June, will see a number of corporate teams take on the 1,040 steps to the rooftop of ONE ONE ONE Eagle Street in support of the Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ).

In a statement, WLSQ said that financial support was needed.

“This year, the service has experienced unprecedented demand for their free legal and social work help for domestic violence victims and their children,” the service said.

“Currently, the service is only able to respond to 39 per cent of calls for help.”

Eva Cox: #MeToo is yet to shift the power imbalances that would bring gender equality

[T]he torrents of anger and complaints from #MeToo raise issues of whether gender powers have really been redefined, both locally and in most Western countries. Have we really made the essential cultural shifts that ensure women are no longer the “second sex”, living in worlds devised, defined and controlled by men? . . .

The current debate is just further evidence we failed to make the necessary power shifts. And macho male resistance to women’s power may also be increasing.

Basic assumptions about gender roles still create beliefs about being an acceptable boy (stand up for yourself) or girl (be nice and read people’s feelings). These offer surefire paths to toxic masculinity and passive femininity.

Given all of that, my concern is that #MeToo and related expressions of anger are failing to fix causes that increase macho-driven gender power imbalances. This means we need real, practical solutions to bridge the gender divide and stop supporting toxic masculinity.

Time’s up for powerful law partner accused of sexual harassment and misconduct

The powerful man at the centre of a workplace harassment scandal that has rocked mega-firm Herbert Smith Freehills this month is understood to be the firm’s Asia-Pacific regional head for its projects practice, Peter Paradise (pictured).

It is believed that at least two female employees at HSF came forward to make misconduct allegations against Mr Paradise, who has brokered some of the biggest business deals in Australia on behalf of clients including state government departments, Lend Lease Building and AGL Energy.

Mr Paradise is also a serving Sydney FC board director, and in that capacity has provided advice to the other five board directors on relevant legal matters for a number of years.

Tim Fischer warns ‘NRA-inspired’ firearms lobby targeting Australia’s gun laws

One of the architects of Australia’s strict gun control laws says he is “deeply concerned” about the emergence of what he described as a US-inspired firearms lobby.

Tim Fischer, the former deputy prime minister and leader of the National party who alongside John Howard helped to pass landmark reforms after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, says he believes a “wave” of firearm lobbying influenced by the US National Rifle Association is putting renewed pressure on Australian gun laws.

Fischer’s warning comes in the context of an increasingly well-funded and organised gun lobby with ties to weapons importers and manufacturers.

Last week the Guardian revealed that the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, was considering establishing a committee to allow gun importers to review proposed changes to firearm regulations for “appropriateness and intent”.

So many Australian place names honour murderous white men and their violent acts

As you drive around this continent, stop and think about some of the names you’ll see on creeks, roads and beaches. It’s no coincidence there are so many places named Skeleton Creek in Queensland and Skull Creek in Gippsland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. There is a Murdering Gully in Victoria, a Skull Hole in Queensland and a Massacre Waterfall in central-west New South Wales. I’ve walked the length of a lichen-lined furrow through a field of gold on the Atherton Tableland, wondering if the howling wind might not be the spirits crying. For the place, Boonjie – which was renamed Butchers Creek with the massacre of its custodians in 1887 – is alive with distressed spirits, a descendant of the dead has assured me. The continent, seeded with Indigenous names and stories, has been progressively renamed in places not to commemorate the deaths of First Nations people, but the very act of murdering them.

The wild Australian west meanwhile was the scene of frontier violence that stretched well into the 20th century. The pioneering families and figures involved in extreme acts of violence against the Aboriginal people and who “opened” (a euphemism like “dispersal” when it came to dealing with the hostile Indigenes) that country, are honoured with statues, plaques and public spaces. They are people such as the Duracks and the Forrests, Canning and Stirling.

We need to celebrate the ‘Feminist Leaders’

But first, let’s clarify what I think of as Feminist Leadership, because I think there is indeed a difference between Feminist Leadership, and leadership by women. They are not the same thing, but they are definitely not mutually exclusive.

To me, a Feminist Leader wants to achieve social transformation: they want to achieve gender equality so that women are treated as human beings with equal rights and equal opportunities to men.

Second wave feminism from the 70’s – of which women like me were the beneficiaries-­‐ was often criticised for being about white middle class women, for leaving behind indigenous women, women of colour and those with disability or of other cultures.

Many of those criticisms were unfair, and were part of the conservative backlash that tried to sully the entire notion of feminism. However, when thinking about Feminist Leadership today, we need to learn from our history, and ensure that our approach to change does take an ‘intersectional approach’, that we look at the impacts of race, ethnicity, culture and religion as we think about gender inequality.

It saddens me that women who have benefitted from the work of those who came before them feel they can’t embrace the ongoing work of driving towards gender equality, or use the phrase ‘feminist’, which is simply about advocating for women to be treated as equal human beings. Those women who came before us ensured that we have the right to vote, the right to education, the right to control our reproductive destiny, and without those achievements, we would not even be at the table.

Does confidence really advance women’s careers? New research says no

Women are told to work on their confidence all the time. To ‘lean in’; to ‘step up’; and to ‘make themselves known’

But can an increase in confidence really shift the game for women, and level a playing field that sees an estimated 150,000 more men than women being promoted each year?

By examining the confidence levels and promotion prospects of the working men and women in Australia who took part in the HILDA research, [Dr Risse] found that men had a ‘higher hope of success’ on average, while women came up against a ‘higher fear of failure’.

That higher hope of success marginally lifted the job promotion prospects for men. But for women, such increases of hope had no effect on their opportunities.

Dr Risse believes the findings challenge the Sheryl Sandberg ‘lean in’ mantra that encourages women to be more assertive in the workplace.

She said the findings may indicate bias in how women are treated in the workplace, which was consistent with other research finding women can actually suffer backlash for demonstrating assertiveness, confidence and ambition at work.

Why the move towards transparency will help shrink the gender pay gap

A shift is underway when it comes to the gender pay gap in Australia: opaque is on the out and transparency is creeping in.

This week two leading professional services firms, Ernst & Young and PwC, disclosed the pay gaps that exist between men and women in their respective organisations, for the first time.

The shift towards transparency follows the British government’s introduction, in 2017, of mandatory reporting of the pay gap in organisations that employ more than 250 people last year. The deadline for disclosure is the 4th April this year and around two-thirds of relevant employers have already complied.

It is a significant change because the historic lack of transparency around remuneration has long allowed the pay gap to flourish unchallenged. It has allowed the nebulous theory that the pay gap is myth to continue. The clarity that actual numbers deliver nips that in the bud and brings accountability to the table.

Transgender files complaint against shelter for abused women

The transgender individual in this story is referred to as a male for purposes of clarity, because he is a biological male who presents as a female, and because no legal record of his female identity or name change could be discovered through research.

The Brother Francis Shelter takes both homeless men and women, but because of the circumstances of his inebriation and fight, the staff sent him over to the Hope Center, which runs a shelter for abused and battered women who are homeless.

Four days later, Coyle filed a complaint with the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, saying that he had been discriminated against at a place that provides “public accommodation.” He alleges he was refused entry because he is transgendered. Transgendered means he is in a protected class of individual, his complaint says. He cannot be refused service.

In fact, if the Hope Center had to admit men, it would not have the physical means to segregate them from the women.

His court records show that Coyle is a man with an extensive criminal record, including violent crimes.

Coyle’s complaint is clean, legalistic, and notarized. He may have gotten help from Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis (AWAIC) in filing his complaint against Hope Center.

If indeed AWAIC is helping transgendered persons file complaints against another women’s shelter over the issue of men seeking entry into a place reserved for the safety of traumatized women, then the AWAIC board of directors may have some new policy decisions to make.

Women must act now, or male-designed robots will take over our lives

The overarching problem of men dictating the rules has found new expression in something that is currently changing the way we live and breathe: artificial intelligence (AI).

With that in mind, I think the next fight for us women is to ensure artificial intelligence does not become the ultimate expression of masculinity.

There are many reasons to fear this could happen. First, the algorithms that codify human choices about how decisions should be made. It is not possible for algorithms to remain immune from the human values of their creators. If a non-diverse workforce is creating them, they are more prone to be implanted with unexamined, undiscussed, often unconscious assumptions and biases about things such as race, gender and class. What if the workforce designing those algorithms is male-dominated? This is the first major problem: the lack of female scientists and, even worse, the lack of true intersectional thinking behind the creation of algorithms.

And if robots are taking human jobs, we need to figure out how we would deal with a large jobless population. . . . And many now suggest that universal basic income is probably the only solution to the rise of robotic automation. This is appealing to many but it does pose questions from a feminist perspective: if the only jobs available will be in science and technology, how is that going to work for women in the light of the gender gaps in those professions?

‘Saving the children’ are the three most dangerous words uttered by white people

The story was splashed across the front page in three bold lines: “Save our children.” It relied on quotes from the federal assistant minister for children and families, David Gillespie, who said now was the time to place Aboriginal children with white families.

“Foster care is not ideal but there is a reluctance to put them in a more permanent situation for fear of creating another stolen generation,’’ Gillespie said in the paper.

[T]he idea that Aboriginal children are not being placed in white families is a lie. The kinship and Aboriginal child placement principles in many states and territories recognise the need for Aboriginal children to be kept in communities, or in extended families. But often, in practice this principle has fallen far short of its aims.

There was also the issue of child protection agencies not consulting with families about child placements, and children, even those placed in kinship care, being separated from their respective communities and cultures.

In Victoria, as reported by the Guardian’s Calla Wahlquist, a third of First Nations children are placed with Aboriginal kin, and 41.6% are placed with non-Indigenous carers.

The greater lie is that Aboriginal children are not being taken away and are being kept in dangerous situations for fear of a stolen generation. That does not gel with the statistics: Aboriginal children are being taken away at exponential rates and these rates have grown every year since Kevin Rudd gave his apology to the stolen generations and promised it would “never happen again”.

While non-Indigenous children are more likely to be taken away for physical and emotional abuse, Aboriginal children are largely taken away because of “neglect”, which is often seen as a subjective term based on cultural interpretation.

[O]f course there are some children who need to be taken away. But there should be a concerted effort to place children with families – with aunties, uncles or grandparents and, if not, other members of the community. And there should be a concerted effort to support Aboriginal mothers and fathers so they can raise their children in a safe and loving environment.

If children are taken away from their families they are placed in the care of the minister. Shouldn’t there be accountability? How can we be assured that they are not placed in more danger than what they were in, given the state of the child protection system?

The Crown’s Claire Foy paid less than male co-star, producers admit

Claire Foy, who plays the Queen in The Crown, was paid less than her co-star Matt Smith during the first two seasons of the hit show, producers of the Netflix series have revealed.

Foy, who was reportedly paid $40,000 (£29,000) an episode, will not appear in the third series of The Crown, which starts filming this summer, as every part on the show has since been recast. She won a Golden Globe in 2017 for her portrayal of the current monarch during the early years of her reign.

Speaking to the Guardian before the launch of the second series of The Crown last year, Foy said she believed women were expected to follow pre-accepted norms.

“If all the women in the world suddenly went: ‘I’ve just realised I can’t be arsed with this any more’,” she said.

Fewer female lawyers aspire for leadership positions than male lawyers

Fewer female lawyers harbour aspirations to be in leadership positions than male lawyers, a new study in the UK has found.

Among female lawyers, the leading reason is “no route or room for progression” (27%), followed by “work-life balance” (26%), and “stress” (16%). Other reasons identified by female lawyers were “’glass ceiling’ or unacknowledged barrier to advancement” (10%), “satisfied at current level” (7%), and “lack of flexible working opportunities” (4%). There were 3% of female lawyers that said they have “been there, done that.”

Take it from us – here’s what we need in an ambassador for women in science

The federal government announced yesterday that it will appoint a “Women in Science ambassador” to travel to schools around Australia and encourage young girls to pursue careers in science and technology.

It sounds like a good idea – but talking to teens is not enough.

We argue that an ambassador needs to do more than just encourage interest. Such a person should address structure and culture, and remove barriers that impede women’s progress in science and technology, which are still in place even in 2018.

Until the mid-late nineteenth century women were unwelcome at universities, and not allowed to study subjects or work in fields like maths and physics, which were reserved exclusively for men. The legacy of this deliberately biased beginning is alive and well in the structure and culture of modern STEMM disciplines.

Masturbation hacks and consent advice: how YouTubers took over sex education

With UK schools increasingly falling short, vloggers such as Hannah Witton and Laci Green have stepped up to offer guidance on everything from body confidence to sexual pleasure.

When Lily was at school, she remembers the boys and girls being separated for a sex education class. The boys were given one booklet; the girls another. “In the boys’ booklet, there was a section on masturbation and there wasn’t in the girls’ booklet,” she says. “A girl put her hand up and said: ‘Why don’t we have that?’ and one of the teachers said: ‘Girls don’t do that, that’s disgusting.’ It shouldn’t be a shameful thing to talk about. It can be a bit awkward and embarrassing, but we should be talking about it.”

The videos that have done particularly well, she says, include those on masturbation, “especially female masturbation, which for some reason is still taboo. A lot of people either don’t want to admit it’s happening or feel too ashamed to talk about it. There is a general shame and stigma around that topic, in terms of actually doing it but also talking about it.”

Five years on, Pope Francis has failed to deliver on his promises

Two issues above all remain a problem for him: child abuse and the role of women. Francis’s creation of a special commission to examine the global problem of children being abused by priests was considered a breakthrough. Four years down the line, and with the two abuse victims who were members having resigned, it seems no nearer to producing new ways of dealing with the issue. And despite Francis’s own zero-tolerance comments about abuse, there have been occasions when he has seemed unwilling to take action against those involved.

That Francis included women on the abuse commission was a welcome sign of change. So was his setting up of a commission to look at women deacons in the church, though two years on it has not reported. But there is an impatience among Catholic women about the extent to which the church is still dominated by a celibate male priesthood. The language used by the former Irish president Mary McAleese, when she denounced the church last week as an “empire of misogyny”, might have been extreme but it did articulate the frustrations of so many women that not only are they ignored, but also their talents are going to waste.

Why do women over 50 have trouble getting a job?

Women aged over 50 tend to suffer from harsher discrimination than their younger counterparts. And this happens in a number of areas in life – including when it comes to getting a job. Matthew Tukaki spoke about the topic with Feminist Legal Centre solicitor, Anna Kerr, as well as the CEO of Hesta, Debbie Blakely, and Kim Borrowdale from Suicide Prevention Australia.

Abuse survivors not eligible for justice

Many people who suffered institutional child sexual abuse in New South Wales and Victoria are being left out in the cold by “unnecessarily strict eligibility requirements” for compensation, according to the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“The Commonwealth’s draft law currently excludes non-citizens and non-permanent residents from accessing the scheme, regardless of how compelling their claim might be, with the option of creating rules to exclude others, such as people convicted of crimes.”

“The only eligibility requirement for accessing the scheme should be having experienced child abuse that a participating institution is responsible for.”

Given the current proposal, he suggested the scheme allow an external appeals process, and compel participation by linking redress to an institution’s charitable status.

What you need to know about domestic violence in Australia: It is a crisis

Family, domestic and sexual violence is a crisis in Australia that is not abating.

A landmark study conducted by the government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) confirms DV remains a major health and welfare issue that predominantly affects women and children.

The study found that family violence is a leading cause of homelessness, that the problem has grown in the past five years and that millions of children have been physically or sexually abused.

Who is most at risk?

Women. Men are more likely to experience violence from strangers and in a public place, but women are most likely to know the perpetrator (often their current or a previous partner) and the violence usually takes place in their home.

Indigenous women, young women, pregnant women, women separating from their partners, women with disability and women experiencing financial hardship are at the greatest risk of experiencing domestic violence.

Women and men who experienced abuse or witnessed domestic violence as children are also at an increased risk.

Dear boys: If you want gender parity, it’s not enough to show support once a year

I’m frustrated by the way our schools (specifically all-boys schools) celebrate International Women’s Day, because it doesn’t make a difference to the problems we continue to face as women. The display of support for feminism is temporary, and often superficial. The way schools mark IWD conditions boys to think that caring about feminism for one day a year means that they’re off the hook and free to go back to ignoring the problems for the remaining 364.

In many cases, the same boys who take part in these annual demonstrations of supporting feminism at their schools are the very same ones who call my friends and me whores, sluts, bitches, and skanks. The boys who are called “brave” and “courageous” by teachers because they showed up to eat purple cupcakes at an afternoon tea on IWD are the same boys who harass us repeatedly online for naked pictures and whistle at us when we’re waiting at the train station. But this doesn’t seem to matter: as long as those boys pay lip service to women and girls publicly on this one day of the year, any level of actual engagement with feminism and its aims is optional and, frankly, unlikely.

These token displays of feminism do more harm than good for the movement in the long term. Over the course of my high school life, I’ve seen more and more of my male peers dismiss feminism as irrelevant. Our society has conditioned them to think they only need to have a superficial level of awareness about gender equality issues, rather than actually taking part in making change. And as these boys grow into men, we see their interest in feminism dissolve further and further, until the very word is regarded as a dirty one.

Quiz! Do women suck? Or is it the world?

Happy International Women’s Day! According to Australia’s Human Rights Commission, women make up 50.2% of Australia’s population. That means that women get 50.2% of everything, right?

My womanly obsession with facts is why I’ve put together this fun quiz! So many women find themselves suspecting – merely on the basis of instinct, observation or just plain lived experience – that even in pretty Australia something seems desperately out of whack in regards to the statistical social, political and economic experience of women to men. So my IWD gift to you, my femme cadre, is something rare and precious you’ll never receive in an argument with a beer-garden misogynist; hard data that proves gender disadvantage is not only intersectional, but true!

In the feminist spirit of gender amity and inclusion I’ve even included some answers just for “men’s rights activists” to tick, to spare them the effort of typing the very same things into the comment section after the quiz

gender and minecraft: console-ing passions

Playing Minecraft as a pacifist vegetarian is technically possible, but the game design generally rewards those players who murder animals for meat (e.g., meat staves off starvation longer than vegetables and bread)—put another way, players are rewarded for treating the landscape and everything on it as a resource ripe for harvesting by way of punching, stabbing, shooting, etc.

In the process of overcoming enemies and colonizing the land, the player character is elevated in their heroic status on the frontier. The land and trophy items that a player collects—diamond armor, Ghast tears, enchanted weapons, etc.—further serve to symbolize power, progress, and accomplishment.

In privileging Minecraft players who assimilate with the player character—as a weapon-wielding, diamond-mining, meat-eating machine—game designers at Mojang marginalize players who want to find other ways of surviving, community building, and playing with mobs that don’t align with a colonial paradigm.

10 things you need to know about women in Australia right now.

In a bid to keep you informed – and keep ourselves up to date – we have compiled a list of ten key takeaways from IWD 2018. – Sexual harassment is rife.
-Boosting confidence won’t help women at work.
-The funding gap remains huge.
-It is possible to close the gender pay gap. Overnight.
-Women are just as interested in leadership as men.
-But… Women are worried having a family will stall their career. -Gender-balanced management teams perform better on key business objectives. -Parents are keen to challenge gender stereotypes.
-There is a competition of ideas about women and gender equality.

UK lawmakers slam professional firms on gender ‘loophole’

UK politicians are demanding law and accounting firms revise figures on how male and female staff are remunerated amid criticism that their partnership structures let them understate the gender pay gap.

British companies with more than 250 employees have until 4 April to provide authorities with data on how they pay staff. Among those to report so far, professional-services companies including Linklaters and EY have shown much narrower gender gaps than banks, like Barclays Plc. But that’s partly because those firms class their top-earning partners as owners rather than employees, enabling them to be excluded from the figures.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission, which operates at arm’s length from the government, has the discretion to punish employers that don’t comply with the data requirements. Dawn Butler, the opposition Labour Party’s shadow minister for women and equalities, said professional firms should face sanctions if they don’t resubmit figures more in line with the spirit of the law.

Big Walk Off – March 27 is keep your children home day

If 90% of our brains are formed in the first four years, why are our early childhood educators paid only half the average national wage?

Early childhood educators deserve to be valued for the important work that they do. That’s why they are stepping up their fight for fair pay and walking off the job on Tuesday 27 March.

If you have child in early learning please keep them at home on 27 March and register your support to be a part of securing the best outcomes for every child and their educator.

Spanish women strike for International Women’s Day

For decades, Spanish women did what women all over the world do on International Women’s Day — held protests, seminars and marches.

But this year they tried something different: Taking part in an unprecedented national strike.

The result was felt across the nation, with many schools and universities closing, public transport reduced to holiday schedules and essential services cut back to a minimum.

Women without jobs were also urged to withhold labour.

A social media campaign “Take out your aprons” called for a 24-hour moratorium on housework.

Many women responded literally, hanging aprons from balcony windows.

The demands at all the protests were the same — fair promotions for women, the closure of the gender pay gap and an end to sexual harassment.

By one estimate, women are paid on average of 12 per cent less in the public sector and 19 per cent less in the private sector in Spain.

“I feel that there is a really worldwide offensive against women’s rights. You see it in [US President Donald] Trump’s speech, the role of the Church, how we are using our bodies,” Ms Mas said.

“If women in other countries see what we’re doing I think they could reproduce it.”

There isn’t a single office job that can’t be done flexibly

I recently heard of a company that rejected a mother’s request to return to work part-time because apparently the job just had to be done on a full-time basis, writes Catherine Brooks.

The employer cited operational requirements and wouldn’t even give the mother a chance to prove that the role could be done differently.

I, like the mother in this scenario, categorically refute the employers position that her role couldn’t be carried out on a part-time or flexible basis.

So before you say no and fight for the status quo, remember my challenge to you. There’s no office job that can’t be done flexibly. If you disagree, or you’re in HR and the responsible partner is about to refuse the request, call me – let’s talk it through. It’s the least I can do to say thank you to all those people who showed me that the law can be practised flexibly.

Do single-sex schools create hotbeds for misogynistic behaviour?

I believe there’s a correlation between all-boys schools and the violence at university colleges. Many students attending these exclusive colleges come from wealthy families and have attended private schools which, in Australia, are often single gender. And because many of these schools can be places for boys to learn misogynistic behaviour and toxic masculinity, it’s unremarkable that boys carry these beliefs into how they treat girls (and other boys) when they start university.

I feel this disrespect of women occurs in schools for boys firstly, because it appears to relate to the example set by the school hierarchy. If the management of the school is misogynistic, this filters down to the boys. And yes, this is related to the religious nature of most private boys’ schools. Since religion itself is innately misogynistic, why are we surprised if and when boys learn the same attitudes?

We reap what we sow, and Australia is currently reaping the results of a poisonous culture of entitlement, white male privilege, and toxic masculinity.

For the sake of all girls and young women, these schools and university colleges must do better.

Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

When the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) was ratified, it was no doubt envisaged that it would assist in protecting children from harm. However, in practice it is often having the effect of preventing women and children from escaping violent fathers. Like many protective measures introduced by the legal system, these provisions are now being used as a weapon against women and are infringing their human rights.

On the current operation of the law, once a woman conceives a child, regardless of the father’s subsequent level of involvement or conduct, she has unwittingly traded her right to liberty of movement and the freedom to choose her own place of residence if she wants to retain custody of her child.[12] The Australian High Court has reaffirmed that, within this patriarchal legal system, resistance is futile.