As bad as each other: both political parties need to get serious about women | Women's Agenda

As bad as each other: both political parties need to get serious about women

Some time in the next twelve months Australians will make their way to the polling booths to elect our next government.

But while politicians on both sides have gone out of their way to put their best “pro women” foot forward, is it anything more than spin? Is there any substance in policies on either side that appeals to women? As for the behaviour of our political leaders, is it actually supposed to instil confidence?

From where I’m sitting, it all looks pretty disappointing.

During the term of the current Federal government I’ve been appalled with the display of leadership on both sides of the floor.

We have an opposition leader who talks over the top of anyone and everyone, and presumes we’re so silly we’ll believe he didn’t mean to “shame” himself with recent parliamentary references clearly aligned to a certain out-of-line journalist.

We have a Prime Minister who spent 15 minutes on the parliament floor giving a speech about her intolerance for sexism and misogyny, yet who had defended in the very same sitting her now ex-Speaker of the house who has been caught out describing his disdain of women via filthy text messages and who is facing sexual harassment charges; who spent months defending vehemently a now ex-member of her Cabinet accused of misappropriating his employer’s funds to pay for prostitutes; and who has been decried as a hypocrite by a female member of her own government for failing to reign in public displays of sexist behaviour within her own senate.

Is this the behaviour that Australian women expect of the people charged with running our country? Is it the kind of role modelling we want for our children? Is it what you’re happy to vote for?

And what about policy leadership? Is there anything there that sets your heart on fire? Which – if any – policies are aimed at winning the hearts and minds of women voters?

For me the number one political issue for the 2013 election will be childcare and education: how to make quality childcare more affordable and accessible for all Australian families, and the provision of world class education to all Australian children from an early age.

Last year sphinxx conducted a survey of 262 Australian women across the full spectrum of incomes and geographies and 86% of respondents said they would give their vote to the party with a tax-deductible policy on childcare. Really? Would you? And if so, how are you communicating that to the Government. I met with Minister Kate Ellis about this a few weeks back, and she has flatly ruled it out.

What about the mums – does it bother you that women are more likely to live in poverty than men? Especially those who take time out of their careersto focus on parenting. It really worries and saddens me. But where are the policies to help these women better plan for their financial futures and retirements?

If we are to be a really smart and productive nation, we need to rethink how we engage and encourage women in the workforce. We are a small country by population, and using Hillary Clinton’s words “we don’t have a person to waste, let alone an entire gender to waste”. So where are the policies aimed at addressing the gender pay gap and the dearth of women in leadership roles throughout our workforce?

It’s time forwomen to stand up and be counted across Australia for the values we hold and the future we expect.

If you, like me, are disappointed with leadership in our government then there’s something you can do. Let’s start a discussion here and on twitter tagged #womenvotetoo. Tell @JuliaGillard and @TonyAbbottMHR what your vote stands for and what they need to offer to earn it.

Come on women of Australia: make your thoughts heard, make our government act, and above all, make your vote count!

Stay Smart! Get Savvy!

Get Women's Agenda in your inbox