Just over 20 years ago I was interviewed by Karen Kissane for an Age article on Feminism. For the article The Fruits of Feminism Karen Kissane asked 12 feminists including Dr Anne Summers , Susan Ryan and Quentin Bryce, how far have we come.
Well 20 years down the track how far have we come? When you read the article it becomes apparent that, the more things change the more things stay the same. More women are in the workforce and we have paid parental leave but many problems still remain. There is still a significant gender pay gap and women do not have access to equal financial opportunity. In 1994, I was quoted thus : Julie Kun, women’s convenor of the Young Labor Left in Victoria, agrees that the need now is for “in-depth socialisation” to change views that women are the natural carers: “Legislation alone won’t make people see that caring is the work of everyone in society.”
In 2012, the Australian Services Union (ASU) won equal pay for community sector workers. This saw community sector workers receiving sizable equal remuneration pay increases. In this historic and ground breaking campaign for pay parity the ASU was able to demonstrate that community sector workers were underpaid because caring work is undervalued. Even with this significant victory in the last couple of years we have seen the gender pay gap stretch to 18.2%. Fathers are still not taking on the role of primary carer for children; leaving women to put their careers and financial security on hold in order to take on the unpaid and undervalued ,yet vitally important role of raising children.
Lets hope and work towards The Fruits of Feminism, in 20 years time being relegated to an article outlining historical concerns no longer applicable in a truly equal Australia.