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Keeping the 'Big Picture' in Perspective: (In)visible Women? VCOSS CONGRESS 2009: Protecting Social Equity When the Going Gets Tough 6 August 2009 Sara.

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Presentation on theme: "Keeping the 'Big Picture' in Perspective: (In)visible Women? VCOSS CONGRESS 2009: Protecting Social Equity When the Going Gets Tough 6 August 2009 Sara."— Presentation transcript:

1 Keeping the 'Big Picture' in Perspective: (In)visible Women? VCOSS CONGRESS 2009: Protecting Social Equity When the Going Gets Tough 6 August 2009 Sara Charlesworth Centre for Applied Social Research

2 RMIT University© VCOSS Congress 09 2 The Impact of the GFC in Australia Men hit hardest SA tops jobless rate Confidence coming back SA tops jobless rate Men hit hardest Australia’s unemployment increases

3 RMIT University© VCOSS Congress 09 3 Responses: Job protection and job creation… States welcome stimulus package Stimulus package and building works Qld calls for builders Stimulus package ups & downs

4 RMIT University© VCOSS Congress 09 4 Labour force participation in Australia

5 RMIT University© VCOSS Congress 09 5 A gender perspective on the GFC… “Historically, economic recessions have placed a disproportionate burden on women. Women are more likely than men to be in vulnerable jobs, to be under- employed or without a job, to lack social protection, and to have limited access to and control over economic and financial resources.” Sha Zukang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

6 RMIT University© VCOSS Congress 09 6 Unemployment…

7 RMIT University© VCOSS Congress 09 7 Underemployment = employed persons who want, and are available for, more hours of work than they currently have Underemployment = Underemployment: health care and social assistance industry = 9.5% for women in May 2009 community and personal service workers = 15.8% for women in May 2009

8 RMIT University© VCOSS Congress 09 8 Women workers have relatively lower quality jobs and more pressured lives Women are more likely than men to: – be casually employed – work part-time – depend on the minimum wage – work in (female-dominated) low paid industries – have less superannuation and savings Women are less likely than men to: –have access to annual, sick or carers’ leave –be union members –covered by an enterprise agreement Women report increased feelings of being often or almost always pressured for time (AWALI 2009) –66% of women working FT up from 59% in 2007 –58% of women working PT up from 51% in 2007

9 RMIT University© VCOSS Congress 09 9 Intersectional (dis)advantage? Indigenous women in Victoria 2006 (ABS): –40% employed compared to 54% of non-Indigenous women –16.1 % unemployed compared to 5.4% of non-Indigenous women –46.7% not in labour force compared to 41.1% of non-Indigenous women Women born in NES countries in Victoria 2007 (ABS): –41.4% employed compared to 60.0% of Australian-born women –7.0% unemployed compared to 3.4% of Australian-born women –55.4% not in labour force compared to 37.0% of Australian-born women Regional impact of GFC on women (The Australia Institute): –high degree of regional concentration in unemployed/discouraged women workers: –Victoria has a 6% unemployment rate for women ranging from: – 3.3% in NE Melbourne to – 9.1% in the Central Highlands-Wimmera

10 RMIT University© VCOSS Congress Gendered impacts of the GFC in community services? “Women are over-represented in paid care-work, which often has low pay, low-status and few social benefits…” Sha Zukang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Victorian Office of the Community Sector snapshots: Reported actions to maintain sustainability –January 2009 –reduced staff hours (53%) –freezing staff positions and levels (47%) –not filling vacancies (47%) –cutting staff training (40%) –asking staff to take leave (20%) –April 2009 –reduced staff hours (18%) –freezing staff positions and levels (6%) –not filling vacancies (18%) –cutting staff training (24%) –asking staff to take leave (24%) Impact on employees??

11 RMIT University© VCOSS Congress Vulnerable paid care workers? Who Cares: A Profile of Care Workers in Australia’s Community Services Industries (Meagher & Healy 2005, 2006): majority (62%) are intermediate service workers (e.g child care workers, personal care and nursing assistants) 55% of care workers work part-time (57% female care workers, 38% male care workers) 15% of all care workers and 19% of female intermediate service care workers work 15 hours or less per week wages are very low in comparison with those in other industries, and men earn more than women at any given level of qualification even within community services sector care workers earn substantially lower hourly rates of pay than non care workers in the same sector care workers more likely to have dependent children, and twice as likely to be sole parents than workers in equivalent skill level occupations

12 RMIT University© VCOSS Congress Looking forward… “Policy responses to the financial crisis must take gender equality perspectives into account to ensure, for example, that women as well as men can benefit from employment creation and investments in social infrastructure.” Sha Zukang, UN Under- Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs In the Australian context this means investing in social infrastructure including in community services, investment that is also directed towards job protection and job creation and towards the promotion of quality work for paid care workers “Equity and dignity in access to and experience of care is inseparable from the equity and dignity of paid care workers reflected in decent working conditions and decent wages” (Hallgrímsdóttir et al. 2008) Unless the work that paid care workers undertake is properly recognised and valued: “the ultimate irony is that women carrying the burden of the community’s caring role in social services today are well on their way to becoming the clients of the very same services tomorrow” (Scott et al. 2006)


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