Equal Pay Day is a reminder of ECEC’s economic importance, Parenthood says
Without early childhood education and care (ECEC) support, Australia’s women will struggle to achieve pay parity, advocacy organisation The Parenthood has said, as part of broader commentary on Equal Pay Day, which takes place on 31 August.
Equal Pay Day marks the additional days from the end of the financial year that women must work to earn the same as men. Currently the national gender pay gap is 14.2 per cent for full-time employees, up .8 percentage points over the past six months.
“The ongoing pandemic and extended lockdowns have been particularly disastrous for working mothers,” Parenthood Executive Director Georgie Dent said, noting that women in particular have been impacted by a loss in work hours and job security, while experiencing an increase in unpaid work, including child related responsibilities, under harsh pandemic conditions.
“We also know hospitality, beauty services and many other female-dominated industries have been adversely affected by COVID-19 restrictions,” Ms Dent added.
“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,” she explained.
“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.”
By increasing the investment in early learning, more women would be supported into paid work, as well as increasing employment opportunities within ECEC itself, a female-dominated sector.
“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,” Ms Dent added.
“The case was compelling even before the current range of COVID-19 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.”