Louise Mullins, QCOSS

Queensland, like the rest of the country and world, has a gender imbalance which impacts the entire community.

Women’s financial disadvantage and economic insecurity have far-reaching effects that can span generations. As women continue to be the primary carers of children, it is important to consider the wider effects of women’s poverty on their children.

The financial facts for women in the workforce are alarming. Queensland women, on average, earnt $1,367.90 in a full-time working week in May 2018, compared with $1,654.40 for men in a full-time working week, resulting in the 17.3% gender pay gap.

Higher rates of part-time work and time spent out of the workforce drive women’s earnings down even further. These factors all contribute to lower lifetime earnings and significantly reduced superannuation.

Women are taking up roles in increasing numbers in traditionally male-dominated fields. But there are still big issues for women in participation and leadership such as women’s access to male-dominated occupations like science, technology, engineering, building, mathematics, building, construction and mining.

While many industries proclaim to offer flexible work arrangements, it appears that access to these arrangements are still an issue for many women. And the small number of women in leadership positions remains to be a significant problem.

Evidence shows organisations with gender balanced leadership demonstrate better financial performance, access the widest talent and skill pool available to them, and are more responsive to clients and broader stakeholders.

When it comes to health, Queensland women are living longer than the state’s men. Rates of breast and cervical cancer are decreasing and there are fewer deaths from these diseases.

Unfortunately, the advancements in health and wellbeing many Queensland women enjoy are not experienced equally by all. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are generally in poorer health, and women living in disadvantaged areas are less likely to have the time and resources to do enough physical activity to obtain significant health benefits.

The theme for Queensland Women’s Week (2-10 March) 2019 is Invest in women. Invest in the future. It recognises that improving women’s and girls’ financial literacy and capability improves their economic security which has benefits for the entire community.

Economic security is a key priority of the Queensland Women’s Strategy. The strategy provides a framework for government, the private sector and the wider Queensland community to take significant action to achieve gender equality in Queensland.

Find out more about Queensland Women’s Week.

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