A Step in the Right Direction? Landmark Economic Review featuring Hajeh Maha aims to address work opportunity inequality for women

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Women in the workforce are all too often forced to choose between their family and their career. In an effort to address the issue, the Perrottet government has recently announced a women’s economic expert panel to help shape the NSW budget, of which our very own Hajeh Maha Abdo has been asked to take part. Here is what you can expect and what it means for women’s rights.

In recent news, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has appointed a landmark women’s economic expert panel to help shape the state budget, with aims of discussing how bringing more economic opportunities for women will be key in economic recovery of NSW post-pandemic. 

We are pleased to announce that our very own Hajeh Maha Abdo will take part in this monumental panel, which will be led by Chief Executive Women president Sam Mostyn. Alongside the esteemed Ms Mostyn, the panel will also feature Blair Comley, partner at EY Port Jackson Partners, regional businesswoman Jillian Kilby, co-chair of the Council on Early Childhood Development Leslie Loble, and writer and teacher Daisy Turnbull. 

With such a strong panel of women dedicated to supporting and helping women from all backgrounds thrive, there are high hopes for what this panel will mean for the future of women in work, especially when it comes to overcoming the long-standing barriers faced by most working women. 

For many women, it can be hard to find a career which accommodates all their needs and commitments. Working mothers and carers especially are given the impossible task of balancing their careers while looking after dependent family members, and are unfairly looked down upon when they have to take less hours or even quit their jobs out of necessity. And in corporate fields where there are typically less women in the office, women, especially from culturally and linguistically diverse and faith-based backgrounds, face even more pressure to excel in comparison to their peers.   

But for the majority of women working in unpredictable fields such as hospitality, retail and healthcare services, COVID-19 has devastated them disproportionately.

According to NSW Treasurer Matt Kean, the economic crisis brought by the pandemic represented the first national recession in which women lost more jobs than men. In fact, when the Delta variant broke out, 85 per cent of all jobs lost in the first month of the lockdown were jobs held by women. Women across NSW likewise saw an increase in unpaid work, stemming from remote learning arrangements and providing care for elderly and vulnerable members of our community. 

However, even without the devastation of the pandemic, the participation of women in the workforce still remains significantly less than men, especially after 30, where many women struggle to find avenues to return back to the workforce after having children, particularly when it comes to finding affordable and accessible childcare. 

Ultimately, our hope for the panel is to ensure that all women – regardless of whether they are single, in a relationship or a mother – have the support and freedom they need to achieve a career pathway that’s best for them. This includes looking at policies which narrow the gender pay gap and make the workplace a safer, friendlier and more accessible place for women to work, especially for the women who need it most. 

And as this panel discusses these long standing issues, we hope it will lead to lasting positive changes for working women and provide more of a platform for the needs of women of all backgrounds to be addressed in a holistic way.

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