‘Stay-at-home Mum’: An archaic term ripe for extinction?

. . . the opportunity and financial cost of spending time raising children and managing a household, instead of working for pay is a huge drain on a family’s finances. So because what we do is unpaid, society in general inherently, and often subconsciously, looks down on ‘Stay-at-home Mums’ as not providing value.

But we are all painstakingly aware, both from statistics, economic modelling and experience, that this work is so hugely valuable and fundamentally important. Yet, still today, the term ‘Stay-at-home Mum’ is full of negative connotations and stigma. It implies inactivity and masks the many roles a mother actually fulfils. No other job description is so multi-dimensional. In my view, the term ‘Stay-at-home Mum’ undermines the very work we do and belies the real nature of this all consuming role. So no, I was not going to write ‘Stay-at-home Mum’ on that form.

A close friend, who has the same immigration form dilemma, shared with me her struggle with the term. “It implies that you stay at home….and do…well…not much. It has symbolised the totally undervalued, horrifically hard role that I took on for a period without properly understanding the job description.


“Ask Treasury”: The Office for Women’s response to the Budget’s impact on women.

On Monday the Minister for Women and the Office for Women were asked a number of questions about this in Senate estimates. They were specifically asked about what modelling for women had been undertaken. They were also asked to articulate the Office’s efforts to meet the G20 objective of boosting women’s workforce participation.

The responses seem to reinforce the NFAW conclusion that no “gender aware” analysis of the budget took place.


End the system that fosters misogyny

Today, women occupy 65% of the paid workforce, but still perform 66% of the unpaid caring work in Australia. Despite these victories, there is something fundamentally wrong with this system. Capitalism can live with women in the workforce just as long as we know our place and continue to accept the double standard and the double burden.

Imagine if quality child-care was free, there was free health, dental and hospital care for all, community restaurants provided cheap and nutritious meals, education was free and domestic chores were paid for by the state. Life for families, and especially women, would be very different. But this sort of arrangement would mean that a proportion of the profits currently pocketed by the ruling class would have to be spent on providing such services.

Neoliberalism is moving society in the exact opposite direction to this vision. We are seeing attacks on welfare, the dismantling of universal health and free education. This is putting huge strain on families and, by extension, on women. We cannot take the gains that working women have won for granted. But they are limited and temporary — just look at the attacks on penalty rates, on the right to organise in a union, the fight for equal pay.


Damning Budget analysis: Some women will be hit with an effective marginal tax rate of 100%

One of the key findings in the NFAW 2017-18 Gender Lens report, released today, is that the combination of various policy changes this year could lead to an effective marginal tax rates of 100% or higher for some women.

The “stacking together” of changes to the medicare levy, HECS and government benefits and different income tests, can create a very different effective tax rate.

Changes in this Budget mean a graduate earning $51,000 could have less disposable income than someone earning $32,000. Because women are overrepresented at lower income levels, changes to government benefits and increases in taxes have a disproportionate effect on women.


What women should (but won’t) get in the 2017 Budget

From the mid-1980s until 2014 Australia published a Women’s Budget Statement each year which analysed the impact of a particular budget and its policies on women. This was groundbreaking when it was introduced and has been adopted by many other countries.

Since 2014, when the Federal government ceased publishing the statement, the National Foundation for Australian Women has worked with experts from a range of organisations, to undertake analysis of the implications of the budget through a gender lens.

This is critical because the consequences of some policies, whether intended or unintended, affect men and women differently. As the NFAW writes: “The impacts of public expenditure, revenue raising, and deficit reduction strategies are not gender neutral. Government expenditure and taxes don’t impact equally because men and women occupy different economic and social positions.”


Terrifying Report Reveals That Sexual Violence At School Begins Long Before College

According to the AP’s findings, approximately one in five students reported experiencing rape, sodomy or being penetrated with a foreign object. Rape victims skewed older at an average age of 14 1/2 years old, while sodomy victims were younger at 12 1/2 years old.

Boys made up the majority of the perpetrators in all these offenses. The peak age of reported female victims was 14 and 95 percent of cases with female victims were perpetrated by males.


Podcast: Time warp – Lawyers Weekly

On this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, journalist Melissa Coade is joined by Anna Kerr, the principal of the not-for-profit Feminist Legal Clinic in Sydney.

They discuss NSW’s “archaic” abortion laws, including the recent voting down of a bill to decriminalise the medical procedure. Twenty-five NSW politicians voted against the Abortion Law Reform (Miscellaneous Acts Amendment) Bill 2016, with 14 voting for the reform.

They also question why NSW and Queensland are lagging behind the other states and territories that have updated their criminal codes to remove abortion as a crime, and emphasise the importance of lawyers’ voices in conversations about human rights.


African teenager says she was held as sex slave in Sydney for weeks

A teenage girl from West Africa has said she was held in a Sydney home against her will and used as a sex slave for weeks before managing to escape.


The John Laws skirt saga: why do successful women defend sexism?

This week the great relic announced in his ancient, gravel tones the women he employs must wear skirts to work to please him.

Yet there they were, excusing Laws’ sexist ways and tone and skirt diktat on TV. “He’s actually a really good, decent man,” Rowe said.

No, he’s not – he’s someone treating professional work colleagues as objects of decoration.

“He’s a lovely man,” Buttrose echoed.

This is what Laws says of ogling his female staff: “I love them to look feminine. A skirt on a beautiful body is a very, very feminine thing.”

That’s not lovely. That’s the exploitation of a power dynamic in which workers are obliged to service the skeezy pleasure of the boss on top of doing their day job. Australian law says sexual harassment is not on, and the community knows anything close to sexually questionable behaviour at work is not on.


France gets a gender balanced cabinet

In 2017, it’s not something we should still need to marvel at, or even notice. Yet France’s new President Emmanuel Macron’s move to appoint a fifty/fifty gender split across his Cabinet is certainly newsworthy. Macron’s centrist government aims to bring a wide range of people together (from both the left and right), and 50% of them happen to be female.

The gender split follows a similar move by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who announced a gender balanced cabinet in 2015. Asked why he did it, Trudeau famously replied: “Because it’s 2015.”

Following the Australia Federal election last year, female representation in the Coalition fell to its lowest level since the early 1990s, with just 13 women sitting on government benches in the House of Reps. Less than a quarter of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s full ministry are female.