The past few days have proven one thing – each time we might indulge ourselves by thinking that women are making strides in the march towards gender equality, there is still a long, long way to go. From forced strip searches of 18 women in a Qatari airport which, lets be frank, is a fundamental breach of human rights, to the public humiliation of a female CEO over four Cartier watches while male counterparts with arguably much more egregious personal claims on the public purse are treated with dignity.
But first Qatar. The Qatari government “has confirmed it was trying to find the mother of a newborn baby abandoned in a rubbish bin at Doha International airport on October 2 so it could arrest and prosecute her.” Why? Well because sex outside marriage is outlawed in Qatar (although one assumes the mother of the abandoned baby had sex long before she transited through Doha airport).
Whether the woman who abandoned her baby was identified during the invasive search process is still not clear.
However, she may have been a foreign national – who make up the vast majority of Qatar’s population (88% in fact) – but who are largely unprotected by domestic laws and have little in the way of personal freedoms.
James Lynch, from human rights investigations agency Fair Square, argues that unwanted pregnancies, some resulting from rape, see some of these women end up in jail. Whether the woman who abandoned her baby was identified during the invasive search process is still not clear.
And as for Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate? (Does anyone else have déjà vu: circa Michelle Guthrie?) The hypocrisy is astounding. While ASIC chairman James Shipton and his deputy chair Dan Crennan have been found to have accepted personal benefits from the taxpayer of $118,000 and $70,000 respectively, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was a matter for the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and he would await an independent report before passing judgement.
On Ms Holgate, however, on the issue of $20,000 in watches, he said he “was appalled and it is disgraceful and it’s not on”. And she was shown the door. A qualitative difference in approach? I think so.
Asked if she was a feminist Deb Frecklington ‘I identify as a female who wants to get Queensland working again’.
Over the Queensland border, history is being made as two women battle it out to be the state’s premier. We spend a lot of time at BroadAgenda HQ hypothesising that having more women in decision making and leadership positions will have flow-on impacts on culture and taking women’s concerns – such as the fall out from COVID – into account.
However, writing in The Conversation, two of our favourite gender equality advocates Susan Harris Rimmer and Elise Stephenson had this to say: “[Both] leaders are making male-dominated industries the focus of their campaigns … [they] have made frequent appearances in hi-vis vests and hard hats, talking up policies around infrastructure, roads and other developments to boost the state’s economy.”
Furthermore, asked whether she would describe herself as a feminist, Palaszczuk said, ‘If a feminist is about believing in equality, absolutely’.” And Frecklington? She was “even more noncommittal”. ‘I identify as a female who wants to get Queensland working again’.
Meanwhile, in the US, women voters are proving to be crucial to the result of next week’s Presidential election. Ivanka Trump has been sent out on the hustings to talk “ice cream sundaes” with a white female constituency who have flipped their support from her father Donald Trump to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
As the New York Times so eloquently put it, just the day before Ivanka’s trip to Milwaukee, the president had “called Joseph R. Biden Jr. a ‘criminal’, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci a ‘disaster’, government scientists ‘idiots’ and members of the news media ‘real garbage’.”
Ivanka had been sent to woo a crowd of “white suburban female votes who have become her father’s demographic kryptonite”. So much so, Trump has taken to begging with them: “Suburban women, will you please like me?”
Ivanka had been sent to woo a crowd of white suburban female votes who have become her father’s demographic kryptonite.
Indeed, they do not. A recent poll found 56% of white women said they held a very unfavourable view of the president. And to woo them back, the first daughter is being deployed as a “demographic paratrooper” talking ice cream to white suburban moms.
It is what is turning out to “be the largest gender gap in any presidential election in US history”.
“White women in particular appear to be moving away from Trump, while men seem to be sticking by him,” according to The Guardian.
There was, however, something of a win for gender equality this week – or half a win when Justice Jacqueline Gleeson was announced as a High Court judge, alongside Justice Simon Steward. It wasn’t quite the two female appointments that Kim Rubenstein, co-director of the 5050 Foundation called for last week, but we will take it.
In other news, we loved NSW parliamentarian Jenny Leong calling us all out for congratulating and applauding men when they do “what could really considered the bare minimum” around the family home.
“Why aren’t there news stories about all the women emptying the dishwasher or cooking dinner? Where’s our cheer squad? We all know the answer: it’s so drearily normal.”
She went on to point out, very plainly that: “If we want a truly representative Parliament, we need to fix the structural inequalities to allow women to take leadership roles and to allow the men enough time to do their share of the dishes.” Love it.
There is a fabulous piece in The Atlantic about people who prioritise friendships over romantic attachments and one in the Guardian about whether 54 is the age at which we lose our passion for life.
Meanwhile, the annual AFR Rich list is out today. Gina Rinehart is Australia’s richest person by almost $6bn, with a personal fortune valued at $28.9bn. By my count only 10% of people in the top 100 are women – most named as partners of men (and a good few are Rineharts, either by name or by birth).
And finally, I will leave you with the winners of the Female in Focus awards – photos of fearlessness and femininity in all its guises.