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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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?”
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.
The sweeping anti-abortion bill that passed the Texas House May 19 could allow nearly anyone involved in the process of an unlawful abortion to be charged with a state jail felony, Moody said. That includes the doctor who performed the abortion, but also the person who drove the woman to the clinic, the receptionist who booked the appointment and even the bank teller who cashed the check that paid for the procedure.
Abortion was a criminal act in the United States in 1970 when New York state, as the local American Civil Liberties Union put it, “amended the state penal code to include a new clause allowing for a ‘justifiable abortional act,’ permitting abortions performed within 24 weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, and at any point during pregnancy when a woman’s life is in danger.”
When the law was written in 1970, this was considered progressive. Unfortunately, it was never updated after the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. So today, abortion is still a crime in New York, but with exceptions.
The Roe decision hinged on the notion of viability, only allowing states to limit abortion access after a fetus was viable, which is generally considered around 24 weeks. In our case, our baby would never be viable. Roe also protected the right to an abortion in cases where the health of the pregnant person was threatened.
This left New York’s law inadequate and technically unconstitutional. Because while federal law is supposed to supersede state law, when New York hospital lawyers open the penal code and discover this discrepancy, they conservatively advise health-care providers to steer clear of later abortions, for fear of having their doctors thrown into jail. Sure, they’re just doing their job, but this results in critical denials of federally protected care.
Even for those who have read the book, there is something raw and new in seeing Atwood’s tale on screen. Even when you know it is coming, it is hard to witness Offred – played marvellously by Elisabeth Moss – silently being raped by the commander, her head gently banging into his wife’s lap as she holds her arms down. It is tough to watch the handmaids hurry past lines of bodies hanging from walls, variously damned for being gay, Catholic, an abortion clinic worker. Women have eyes plucked from their heads, endure clitoridectomies as punishment. We are shown exactly how bad such a future would be, if it ever happened.
The novelist famously constructed her dystopian world using only historical precedents . . . Some have even praised the show for the timeliness of its adaptation, falling as it has so soon after the election of President Donald Trump. When before has America needed to take such a hard look at itself, and consider the hypocritical, misogynist prurience that seems to drive so many of its political figures? Tellingly, since the show started being promoted in America, women have been attending marches and protests dressed in the red robe and white bonnet made iconic by Atwood’s handmaids.