COTA Victoria wishes to highlight the impact of gender inequality on older women and hopes to see the issues addressed in the Victorian Gender Equality Strategy. Gender equality is a fundamental human right. Women make up half the Australian population yet despite significant changes across the decades, still cannot claim equality of opportunity or life choice as Australian men. A lifetime of experiencing inequality, as women, has resulted in many of Victoria’s older women living with financial insecurity and poverty in retirement. Currently, there is little in place at any level of government to address the causes.
Gender inequality has an impact on the lives of all Australians. For older Victorians, and more specifically older women, the impacts of structural and cultural bias experienced across the life course can be far-reaching and numerous. COTA argues that implementation of the strategy will only be meaningful and bring real change if government departments and business are made accountable in activities designed to achieve better gender equity. Impacts and outcomes must be carefully evaluated and measured against agreed standards for gender equality.
Any Victorian Gender Equality needs to take action to alleviate the difficulties faced by older women now, in addition to working to reduce the negative impact on future generations. COTA strongly recommends Victoria’s Gender Equality Strategy addresses the income gap faced by older women, supports policies to improve housing security and funds programs which will allow women’s voices (subdued across a lifetime), to be heard in later life.
An Appendix to this submission providing a summary of the consultation results from COTA’s Gender Equality Listening Post can be found here.