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Opinion: A ‘landmark’ Women’s Economic Opportunities Review that falls short

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Women’s Economic Opportunities

The NSW government recently announced a Women’s Economic Opportunities Review, set out to improve conditions for women in the workforce. Yet, nowhere to be seen on the expert panel appointed for the changemaking process are the women most disproportionately burdened by cycles of inequity and exploitation enabled by the very system that the review seeks to change.

Indeed, the call to action comes at a dire time recent research found one in three Australian women experienced at least one form of economic hardship during the pandemic, and women going through financial difficulties due to the pandemic are three times as likely to be sexually or physically abused by their partners. Diving even deeper, for some women, these hardships are compounded by their experiences living as First Nations, Women of Colour, Gender Diverse People, women living remotely or women living with a disability.

To move towards the best possible outcome for women, the government failed to take a considered and intersectional approach to addressing structural economic issues. Here, not only are First Nations women underrepresented, they are missing entirely from the expert panel. We cannot talk about boosting women in the workforce without talking about First Nations womens’ experiences.

As an educator, it was exciting to see another teacher on the panel. My excitement was quickly snuffed to see that she was both White and of generational wealth, giving me little hope that these women will voice the concerns of the most marginalised. Where are the representations of the working class, women of colour, educators and members of the workforce who have roots in under-resourced LGAs and come from migrant or refugee communities? These are the people who fuel the economy, but are not afforded positions to be part of the decision-making that impacts their lives.

Globally, the current economic model is based on exploitation and dehumanisation. If “expert” panels aren’t planning to radically change our system from a patriarchal economy (that operates from a scarcity mindset), to a Feminine-led free market economy that is based on equity and abundance, they will perpetuate the cycles of violence, both visible and invisible.

A radical paradigm shift needs to happen where the economy is about caring for its people and not profit, otherwise we will have the sameness of capitalist and colonial systems regardless of who’s on the expert panel.



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