David Gonski is “diametrically opposed” to gender quotas.

Disagreeing with Gonski, Carol Schwartz stated that quotas are the “perfect” solution to this underrepresentation. In order to tackle the underlying belief systems and unconscious bias that keep women from leadership roles, Schwartz says there needs to be a “paradigm shift which will actually move the dial.” For that, “the only answer is quotas,” she says.

Schwartz says quotas need not aim for exact gender parity every time, “that is way too rigid,” she says. Instead, she proposes a “quota for men of 40 per cent, a quota for women of 40 per cent, and 20 per cent floating.”

In 2015, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon introduced a bill so that this 40/40/20 formula would become mandatory for all Australian government appointments, but it was rejected.

Professor Cordelia Fine of the University of Melbourne, put forward a social justice argument in favour of quotas. She said that based on U.S. data, women and minorities are more compassionate, other-minded and egalitarian, and also tend to take greater account of the welfare of employees, communities and the environment.


Australian universities are failing sexual assault survivors. It has to change

Imagine that you are a university student who has experienced sexual assault; now imagine being told that you’ll have to wait weeks to talk to a counsellor. This week, End Rape on Campus Australia was contacted by a young woman from UNSW, who was sexually assaulted by a fellow student around a month ago – she has still not been able to receive trauma counselling.

Long wait times for counselling are typical at universities around Australia. Counselling services are stretched so thin that there are simply not enough sessions to go around. Almost uniformly around the country, they are understaffed, underfunded, and not adequately promoted to students. And while the International Association of Counselling Services recommends one counsellor for every 1,000-1,500 students, Australian universities have, on average, only one counsellor to every 4,340 students.


UK judges change court rules on child contact for violent fathers

Senior judges are taking steps to end the presumption that a father must have contact with a child where there is evidence of domestic abuse that would put the child or mother at risk.

The reforms are to be introduced in the family courts after campaigning by the charity Women’s Aid, which identified that 19 children have been killed in the last 10 years by their violent fathers after being given contact with them by judges.

The changes include a demand from one of the most senior family court judges for all the judiciary to have further training on domestic violence and to act to ensure women and children are protected.

He also said judges needed to be more alert to perpetrators of domestic violence using the courts as a way to continue their abuse. “Family court judges should be sure that they understand the new offence of coercion [controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship],” he said.


Calls for Family Violence Victims to Access Super

HESTA, along with others in the community sector, is urging the federal government to change superannuation rules, proposing that victims and survivors of family violence be able to access up to $10,000 of their super under compassionate grounds.

“Finances are too often a barrier for women trying to leave a violent relationship and, unfortunately, financial support for survivors of family violence is grossly inadequate,” Blakey said.

“While early access to super is currently possible to stop the bank selling your home, pay for a dependant’s funeral or get medical treatment under compassionate grounds, this is denied in instances of family violence.

“We think it’s entirely appropriate that super regulations extend compassion to victims and survivors of family violence to empower women with the financial means to escape abusive relationships.”

(ed: But shouldn’t it be his super that is depleted in these circumstances?)


NSW government accused of “sanitising” its review of scripture in schools

The NSW government’s review of scripture in public schools deleted a section of a 2015 draft report showing children were exposed to lessons on the conservative Christian concept of “headship” – where women “submit” to their husbands – and negative messages on homosexuality.

The draft ARTD Consultants report found an unidentified major Christian publisher’s lesson material taught “the concept of ‘headship’ and that women should submit to their husbands, abstinence only sex education, negative LGBTI messages and that sexual intimacy is only acceptable to God between a married man and woman”.

The concept of “headship” is most strongly supported in the Sydney Anglican Diocese where women cannot be priests, but it divides even Christian groups. Some delegates walked out of a recent evangelical women’s conference in Sydney after a speaker suggested women should submit to men at home, in church and in the workplace where they should consider themselves “helpers” of male colleagues.


The terrifying truth about online trolls: there is nothing virtual about them.

“Essentially the internet is no different to our offline lives. Just like we have civil society offline we need it online too,” she says. “If someone came up to me in the supermarket and said “I’m going to cut your uterus out and kill your children” no one would suggest not visiting the supermarket.”

And yet, that is effectively the advice law enforcement have given victims of cyber hate and cyber bullying.

‘Stay off the internet love’, is what Gorman was told by police when she reported the flood of abuse she was facing.

“Women are increasingly becoming the objects of these tsunamis of hate. It is the virus of misogyny and it’s not ok.”


Slap the Pimps on the Back: Prostituted women Don’t Matter in Australia

Sitting in front of the select committee in South Australian parliament to testify against the decriminalisation of sex-buyers, pimps and profiteers in 2016 I could have been forgiven for thinking the sex-trade was comprised of women with disabilities buying sex from men. My experience of being bought by men along with that of currently and formerly prostituted women seemed to disappear in a puff of smoke.

Not all of the bill is problematic. On paper it has some healthy rhetoric around removing restrictions on the prostituted on the basis of stigmatisation and discrimination. It is ‘fluffy’ language and meaningless in terms of efficacy but at least it looks like they tried. Scrolling through the proposed bill nothing seems untoward until one finds the clause protecting pimps,sex-buyers, advertisers and procurers. That they are added under such protections is a dangerous and unnecessary inclusion in an otherwise harmless kind of document.


Varadkar announces abortion referendum for next year

Health Minister Simon Harris would be responsible for bringing forward legislation to allow for the referendum on the eight amendment, which gives an equal right to life to the mother and the unborn.

On Tuesday, The United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled for the second time that Ireland’s abortion laws currently violate women’s human rights.

The ruling came after an Irish woman, Siobhán Whelan, was denied access to abortion services in Ireland following a diagnosis, in 2010 of a fatal foetal impairment.

The Committee said that Ireland must provide Ms. Whelan with reparations for the harm she suffered and reform its laws to ensure other women do not continue to face similar violations.

[category: global, reproductive rights]

Feminist Camille Paglia On Transgenderism: ‘The Cold Biological Truth Is That Sex Changes Are Impossible’

Asked by Jonathan Last why there has not been an open confrontation between feminism and transgenderism, Paglia responded that there has already been such a confrontation in the United Kingdom, citing the transgender community’s attacks on iconic feminist Germaine Greer and radical Australian feminist Sheila Jeffreys, the author of Gender Hurts.

Then, the shot straight from the hip: “The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible. Every single cell of the human body remains coded with one’s birth gender for life. Intersex ambiguities can occur, but they are developmental anomalies that represent a tiny proportion of all human births.”

Paglia added, “Like Germaine Greer and Sheila Jeffreys, I reject state-sponsored coercion to call someone a ‘woman’ or a ‘man’ simply on the basis of his or her subjective feeling about it.”

[category: global, reproductive rights, feminism]

ALHR one of 88 organisations urging government to further protect victims of domestic violence renting in NSW

In an initiative led by Women’s Legal Service NSW, ALHR along with 87 other organisations has signed an open letter to Minister Kean and Minister Goward, urging the NSW Government to expand the evidence victims of domestic violence will be able to rely on to end their tenancy immediately without penalty.

[category: Aust, domestic violence]

American Economic Association – Why do mother’s earn less?

Mothers tend to work fewer hours and earn less than women without children.

It’s called the “motherhood penalty,” and while economists are well-aware of the phenomenon, they have struggled to understand why it exists.

University of Amsterdam professor Erik Plug explores the motherhood penalty in a paper that appears in this month’s issue of the American Economic Review.

(ed: No idea why they should struggle with perceiving the obvious.)


The Abortion Battlefield

The Trump administration has made it clear that it, along with the Republican Congress, will do everything possible to bring an end to abortion. Consider the omens: one of Trump’s first executive orders was to stop funding for overseas medical facilities that even mention abortion as an option. His attorney general, Jeff Sessions, referred to Roe v. Wade as “one of the worst, colossally erroneous Supreme Court decisions of all time.” The new Congress is poised to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of reproductive health care services in the United States—which includes cancer screening and contraception as well as abortions. As governor of Indiana, Vice President Pence signed one of the most restrictive of the state abortion laws. “I long for the day,” he has said, “that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.” If Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s addition to the Supreme Court, is in agreement, which is likely, Roe v. Wade could be overturned or further eroded if a relevant case comes before the Court.

In the past half-century, women have made giant strides toward equality, and there is no question that a major reason is the availability of reliable contraception and safe and legal abortions. Women now earn more undergraduate and graduate degrees than men and are closing the income gap (from 58 cents to a man’s dollar in 1968 to 78 cents in 2013). But they have not reached parity, and there is still a glass ceiling. Moreover, further progress is not inevitable, and change does not move in only one direction. We can go backward as well as forward—something Iranian women experienced in 1979, and Afghan women in the 1990s. It will take awareness of the fragility of progress, as well as political action, to stop the Trump administration from turning back the clock.

[category: global, reproductive rights]

Australian-first family law firm launched

A Canberra lawyer has founded what she describes as Australia’s first online family law firm, dedicated to formalising separating couples’ agreements in a way that is simple, fast and affordable.

Ms Mullins said the idea around Separate Together came after she discovered that 70 per cent of litigated family law matters were resolved before trial with couples reaching an agreement.

She thought there had to be a better way to separate without “unnecessary court intervention” and “expensive lawyers”.


Petition update · Carly’s Law is official!!

I’m back in Canberra at Parliament House this morning and I could not be prouder to announce that both the Lower House and Senate have just officially passed Carly’s Law. From today, it is now a federal crime for an adult to lie about their age when talking to a minor online, with the intent to meet that child.


Ending the Stigma and Prosecution of Self-Administered Abortions (US)

In just the first three months of this year, 431 abortion restrictions were introduced at the state level. Plus, 2017 has seen the confirmation of anti-choice Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, and the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule (an international policy that prohibits nongovernmental organizations across the globe that receive US family planning funds from advocating for or even discussing abortion). Add in the 338 state-level restrictions passed between 2010-2016, and it is increasingly clear that abortion access– at least in the short term — is slipping away in this country.

While few states explicitly ban individuals from ending their pregnancies at home without direct supervision by state-sanctioned physicians, there are 38 states that are attempting to frame abortions performed without a licensed physician as an unlawful practice of medicine. However, under Roe v. Wade such attempts are actually unconstitutional, according to multiple legal experts with whom I spoke.

“For those who’ve studied the impact of laws intended to restrict abortion and seen the impact on already marginalized communities, it will come as no surprise that laws and prosecutions that criminalize self-induced abortion have been disproportionately used against poor, immigrant, or young women and women of color,” said Diaz-Tello.

‘I felt like one of my father’s songbirds, let out of its cage’: driving as a woman in Saudi Ara bia

In 2011, as the Arab spring brewed, I began a campaign to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia, mobilising them via Twitter and Facebook.

Saudi women rarely wear anything but black abayas in public. When I saw Wajeha in pink, I giggled, thinking that she was even more fearless than me. No doubt, she was thinking that if we got arrested, at least she would look stylish.

I drove neither fast nor slowly, but I could feel myself looking at the familiar streets and buildings that I had never seen from a vantage point other than the passenger seat. I couldn’t help glancing in the direction of the police station as we passed. It was the same place where two days later I would be detained.


Congratulations Cate Blanchett, but too few women recognised (again)

Once again, we’re still hunting for the women on an honours list.

It’s our twice-yearly tradition. Done at the beginning of the year on Australia Day, and then less than six months later on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

On today’s Queen’s Birthday honours list, women make up even fewer of the recipients of the general division honours, than in previous years. Just 30.6% of the general order gongs went to women, or 206 of the 673 recipients recognised, below the 31.4% average from the past five years.

Blanchett was the only woman to be appointed an AC, awarded for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree.

[category:Aust, workforce discrimination]

Swelling UK solicitor ranks becoming more diverse

“Increasing diversity in the solicitor profession is a powerful force for good and a cause for real celebration. . . . However, he said that there is still a diversity gap in the higher ranks of the profession. “[M]ore than 40% of male solicitors become partners – compare that to less than 20% of women and just over 20% of BAME solicitors.”


Addressing financial domestic violence

Economic abuse (also known as financial abuse) is a pattern of behaviour where the abuser ‘maintain[s] power and control over their partners’ economic resources’. This action reduces the victim’s capacity to support themselves and they are forced to depend on the perpetrator financially.

Despite the progress made during the women’s human rights movement in the 1990s (including the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women), financial domestic violence has not received the attention it deserves.

There has been success for victims of domestic violence more generally who have brought cases before the CEDAW Committee under the Option Protocol. In A.T. v Hungary, the first domestic violence case before the committee, the committee clearly stated that failure to protect women from domestic violence is a form of discrimination and human rights violati

Thus, this case defined the state’s due diligence obligation to end domestic violence under international law. Although A.T. concerned violent physical abuse, and based its analysis on General Recommendation 19, on violence against women, there is no reason in principle why this due diligence obligation should not apply to FDV.


Hope and help for family violence victims in Victoria

According to Victoria Legal Aid (VLA), an alarming 80 per cent of all its cases that come before the family courts feature some form of family violence.

Now a new holistic program aims to help people work through violent family situations with targeted legal assistance and social support.

In addition to legal advice, the new Family Advocacy and Support Services (FASS) program offers VLA clients risk screening, safety planning and social support and referrals.


Campaign to restore specialist domestic violence women’s refuge in Taree

A campaign to bring back a community-based specialist domestic violence refuge, run by women for women, in Taree, is underway.

Leonie McGuire is leading the fight and has called a meeting at Club Taree on Thursday, June 8 with the aim of forming a steering committee of women to champion the cause.

Speakers will include principal of the Feminist Legal Clinic in Sydney Anna Kerr as well as Leonie, who was a founding supporter of the Taree women’s refuge 35 years ago and manager between 1992 and 2004.


How men continue to interrupt even the most powerful women

The numbers do not lie: women have long been underrepresented on the United States Supreme Court. In the court’s 228-year history, only four of the 112 justices have been female. Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female justice in 1981, almost two centuries after the court’s creation, decades after ratification of the 19th Amendment, and years after landmark Supreme Court decisions on women’s rights. Now, with three female justices on the bench, gender equality on the court seems within reach. But our new research on interruptions among justices during Supreme Court oral arguments indicates that women still do not have an equal opportunity to be heard in the highest court in the land.

Justice is interrupted when a justice is interrupted. When a justice is interrupted during her questioning, her point is often left unaddressed. Because women and liberal justices are interrupted at significantly higher rates than the other members of the court, this could make it much harder for women to make arguments and win votes during the post-conference process.


A study about how endometriosis affects men’s sex lives? That’s enraging

Considering the tiny amount of attention and funding endometriosis gets, it’s enraging to see someone conducting a study into how this disease impacts men. Women’s sex lives are far more impacted by endometriosis than men’s are, and if any study on this area is being conducted it should look at how women and their sex lives are impacted.
Studies like this one make it look like the only way endometriosis will get attention is if we highlight how it hurts men.


Women rely on the family home to support them in old age

Thanks in part to the gender pay gap, the gender wealth gap more than doubled between 2002 and 2014. But our research shows Australian women don’t just trail men in total wealth, they also have less diverse asset portfolios. Women are more likely than men to have their assets tied up in a family home. This means their finances are more precarious, and they have less saved for retirement.


A period emoji could help girls talk about menstruation. That would be a big deal

For a natural phenomenon that the average woman will spend thousands of days of her life experiencing, the shame and silence around menstruation makes no sense.

Why, in 2017, do people who menstruate still fear for their safety, use medieval hygiene methods, cop harassment, abuse and are placed at a disadvantage because of a natural human function?

Slowly, it’s beginning to change – with the introduction of menstrual leave being touted for Italy – but progress is not fast enough.

This is precisely why Plan International UK and Plan Australia have launched a campaign to introduce a period emoji.

The campaign aims to start destroying stigmas around menstruation, aiming to break the silence and shame around periods.


Lawyer sets record straight on NSW crime of abortion – Lawyers Weekly

The decision made by NSW Parliament earlier this month to derail a reform bill that would have taken abortion out of the state Crimes Act was marred in a campaign of misinformation, according to one lawyer.

Anna Kerr from the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has described the rejection of a bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW as the being result of a political campaign to disperse misinformation about the proposed law reform.

By blocking law reforms to take abortion out of the Crimes Act, the NSW Parliament was perpetuating ambiguity about the lawfulness of the medical procedure in the state, she said.

“It really was a bit of housekeeping to get those [provisions] removed from the Crimes Act.”

“Women take these rights for granted, and we are seeing [other] various services for women being dismantled at a rapid rate.

“But I think the wider community’s still not aware the extent to which that’s happening,” she said.


This workplace just got a menstrual policy and yours can copy it

Now, the Victorian Women’s Trust is promoting its “menstrual policy”, which they say for the past 12 months has been successfully assisting female employees who’re experiencing their period or menopause.

The VWT is also making its menstrual policy template freely available to other workplaces, in the hope other employers will follow their lead.

The policy offers a number of options for employees who’re managing their period: including to work from home; to stay at work but sit or lie somewhere comfortable (such as in a quiet area); and to take a day’s paid menstrual leave. It gives employees a maximum of 12 paid days per calendar year (pro-rata and non-cumulative) for those who’re unable to perform their work duties due to menstruation or menopause. A medical certificate is not required for these days.


Proposed Changes to HECS/HELP Repayment Will Be Particularly Harsh on Women

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said analysis of this year’s budget showed younger women were some of the budget’s biggest losers. “Another generation of women will have less money, less opportunity and less financial security because they’re earning lower wages than their male counterparts from graduation, to childbearing years and right through to retirement,” Kearney said.

According to the 2017 Workplace Gender Equality Agency report there is an average gender pay gap for recent graduates of 9.4 per cent favouring males.

The NFAW report said: “It may not make financial sense for a woman with young children to take up a position with a salary that is close to the repayment threshold, if it jeopardises other benefits and if she is required to pay for childcare as well.”


The Handmaid’s Tale has already come true – just not for white western women

Why, if the fate of the fictional Offred is so horrifying, is the fate of real-life women in surrogacy hostels causing so little outrage?

I suppose the main argument of these feminists would be that real-life women choose to be surrogates, whereas Offred does not. But is the distinction so clear? If Offred refuses to work as a handmaid, she may be sent to the Colonies, where life expectancy is short. Yet even this is a choice of sorts. As she herself notes, “nothing is going on here that I haven’t signed up for. There wasn’t a lot of choice but there was some, and this is what I chose.” In the real world, grinding poverty drives women of colour to gestate the babies of the wealthy. As one Indian surrogate tells interviewer Seemi Pasha, “Why would I be a surrogate for someone else if I don’t need the money? Why would I make myself go through this pain?”


Poverty must stop being used as a political weapon to separate Indigenous families

The vast majority of cases where children are removed due to governmentally defined “neglect” is attributable to poverty. This is, of course, a situation that has been directly caused by colonisation, which forced us from our own country and subjected us to a foreign capitalist-driven existence without the ordinary privileges afforded to non-Indigenous people, such as the right to an income.

A better utilisation of resources could, of course, be the provision of transport to and from schools for children, medical and community support and the simple provision of affordable, nutritious groceries to rural and remote communities.