With the Federal Budget just days away, a number of women’s organisations and alliances have come together to call on the Government to reinstate the Women’s Budget Statement, and offer an overview of how budget allocations are affecting women’s rights.
Australia previously had a good history of releasing such a Statement having first released one in 1984 under the direction of Susan Ryan AO, and being the first country in the world to do so. A move that was later followed by 90 countries at some point since.
But the statement was dropped in 2014 by our former Minister for Women, Tony Abbott.
Today a number of groups including ActionAid Australia, the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW), the Women’s Electoral Lobby and Fair Agenda, are saying the statement is critical for gender equality, and for meeting our obligations to women and girls around the world.
They’ve also released an excellent video accusing the Government of “budgeting like it’s 1983”, and have urged Australians to sign their petition demanding the statement be reinstated.
As Susan Ryan said, the Statement is needed in order to tell us just how well the budget is meeting the needs of women. “The Budget had been designed by men, for men and before the Statement was introduced, everyone assumed that would work for women as well. It didn’t, obviously.”
Representing ActionAid Australia, Michelle Higelin said abandoning the Statement was an extraordinarily regressive step in Australia. We now have no access to information on what’s being spent to help advance gender equality and women’s rights, so we’re unable to hold the government accountable.
Since 2014, the NFAW has undertaken their own gendered analysis of the Budget in an effort to help fill the gap.
Why is a Women’s Budget Statement important? Check out this comprehensive explainer from 2016.