When it comes to women, the Liberal Government hasn’t had the best track record lately. Accusations of misogyny and intimidation and a disproportionate representation of men versus women parliamentarians are two of the major issues the embattled party has faced over recent months.
So it was with some relief that the Government put females at the forefront of a new scheme announced today, a $109 million plan to improve the economic independence and security of women.
Instigated by Kelly O’Dywer, one of the 22 women in the Liberal Party’s 107 federal parliamentarians and one of the few to identify as a feminist, the plan includes funding aimed at helping women to bridge the gender pay gap and allowing women fleeing domestic abuse to have early access to their superannuation and be eligible for no-interest loans.
O’Dwyer also revealed changes to the paid parental leave system, allowing parents to take up to six weeks of their leave any time over a two year period.
"Even though we have come a long way, we still want Australian women to be able to do even better," O'Dwyer said, referring to the fact that women still earn $26K a year less than men, retire with 42 per cent less in their superannuation and are twice as likely to work part-time.
O’Dywer, who has previously said she thinks sexual harassment is an economic issue, also revealed that victims of family and domestic violence will not have to face their alleged perpetrators under cross-examination where family violence orders are in place.
The government will also continue to support the Good Shepherd micro-finance no-interest loan scheme, to help with the purchase of household items, rental bond and other necessities in setting up a new home, at the same time as providing $50.4m in new mediation services to help resolve separations faster.
"We want to ensure that women can build their financial security to help them choose their own path so they and their families can live their best lives. These new measures will help just give women and their families' greater choice, and will also help grow the Australian economy,” O’Dwyer said. “When women do well, their families do well, and our economy and nation prospers.”
Well done to the Liberal Party. It’s about time you start putting women first.