Australian women can’t achieve equal pay without the support of universally accessible, high-quality and affordable early learning and childcare, according to The Parenthood.
Equal pay day, August 31 this year, marks the additional days from the end of the financial year that women must work to earn the same as men.
The national gender pay gap is 14.2% for full-time employees, a rise of 0.8 percentage points over the past six months.
The Parenthood Executive Director Georgie Dent said, “The ongoing pandemic and extended lockdowns have been particularly disastrous for working mothers, they’ve lost work hours and job security, while experiencing an increase in unpaid work, including childcare and home schooling.
“We also know hospitality, beauty services and many other female-dominated industries have been adversely affected by covid restrictions.
“During the Greater Sydney lockdown, in the fortnight ending 17 July, positions held by women declined by 5.3 per cent in NSW, compared to 3.5 per cent for men.
“One of the best ways of increasing women’s participation in the workforce and closing the gender pay gap is providing quality, affordable early learning and childcare.
“Investing more in early learning and childcare would pay dividends in supporting more women into paid work, growing employment in a female-dominated industry and giving children the best possible start in life.
“Early learning and childcare is one of the most effective investments that a government can make because of the benefits it delivers for children, women, families, businesses, the economy and society.
“The case was compelling even before the current range of covid restrictions, now it’s more crucial than ever as we deal with the Delta strain and look ahead to national recovery.
“We need to build a more stable and sustainable early childhood sector that can support parents as they return to work or re-enter the workforce, provide good jobs for educators and create resilience to better deal with future shocks.”