This week I got cranky. Which to those who know me, is no real surprise! But what was surprising was hearing a crackle of crankiness from our normally optimistic and ever polite co-Directors of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, Prof Kim Rubenstein and Trish Bergin.
What set us off was our media review of the national leadership and ‘voice of authority’ around Australia’s response to coronavirus. It is glaringly male and has been for weeks. Then on Wednesday the PM announced a team of top-level advisors for his National COVID-19 Coordination Commission, which despite the government’s own 50/50 policy for ‘all government boards’ includes only 2 women and 6 men (with more to be announced).
How can a federal government so blithely disregard the critical need for a fair and equal representation of women – when we need it most – and do so without blinking? And… why are gender equality measures so expendable in a crisis?
Also this week we published a detailed summary of the excellent presentation delivered by Libby Lyons, Dir of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) at our ‘Seize the CSW Moment’ conference. We are relieved we managed to squeeze in that gathering just before the University of Canberra went into lockdown, and we will continue to publish more of the rich material it produced in coming weeks.
Recently we’ve turned our eye to China and not just because of coronavirus, but we’re keen to get a better picture of what life is like for women in the world’s most populous state. Yang Hao from the Asia Foundation has provided us with some startling research in which 25% of married women in China report domestic violence.
Unsurprisingly, our curated list of the week’s best Gender News is dominated by what’s preoccupying most of us right now. But it’s not all bleak. NZ’s PM Jacinda Ardern managed to cut through with important information, delivered with her signature compassion. And a thoughtful piece on how coronavirus may change the way we care.
In the UK, once again, the pretence of gender equality proves veil thin as the pandemic provides an excuse for big business to duck pay-gap responsibilities. Meanwhile, the need to focus on domestic violence services and support is getting way too little attention.
Elsewhere abortion services are getting way too much attention, with the US right jumping on the crisis as an opportunity to shut services down. Back home, Marie Stopes warns travel bans are preventing surgical abortions.
In other news, the sting of Elizabeth Warren’s defeat lingers; a powerful read on India’s death sentence for rapists – in a nation with 93 rapes reported every day (and criminal action is rarely taken!); and a fascinating photo essay on the Niqab Squad.
Here at BroadAgenda, like all of you, we are scattered and isolated in our homes, and feeling a little discombobulated. But on we plod … finding new ways to connect and support one another, while also doing our best to share moments of laughter. What beauty in small joys! If nothing else, that is what I take from this strange and challenging time – the love and care of friends, colleagues and our community is so very precious. And powerful.
Take gentle care.