Alison Pullen was invited by Richard Aedy from the ABC program The Money to talk about the power of quotas and why Australia needs them. In this interview broadcast on 6 May 2021, Alison argued that in addition to tackling inequality, quotas could also have an economic benefit. Listen to Alison or read a summary below.
Alison Pullen’s interview on 6 May 2021 with Rachard Aedy on the ABC’s ‘The Money’ program.
In Australia, we need to be looking at women’s participation in the economy as a matter of urgency because the country’s economic recovery will not be achieved without women’s participation. For example, post-2020 COVID19 pandemic, their participation can be key to addressing the skill shortages in sectors that have been previously been filled by casual and immigrant workers.
Women were largely affected by job losses during the 2020 COVID19 health crisis. We also know that some businesses are not very good at hiring women and people from minority groups. Quotas can be useful in this area of economic recovery to ensure that businesses employ women and people from minority groups, which would also help businesses employ a workforce that is more representative of Australian society.
Quotas were first introduced and legislated in France to achieve 50/50 gender balance in political representation. Over time, this led to increases in women into political parties. In Belgium, were quotas also legislated, women’s representation in parliamentary parties and businesses went from 19% in the early 90s to 25% in the late 90s, and then to 36% later on. This is slow progress, but it is some progress.
If we want change to happen, we need the Australian government to legislate quotas. Having quotas will ensure that women are represented for equality and fairness of decision, which will actually boost the economy by attracting investment in areas that not only protect the most vulnerable members of society, but also stimulate big business.
Many women have been saying that there is a problem with the government’s lack of leadership in addressing women’s safety and economic participation. The fact that in 2021 we are still having this conversation regarding women’s capabilities and desire to be in the labour market is a sign of the cultural problem that Australia has. We cannot keep deliberating on who can and who cannot fully participate in the economy.
Women have made enormous progress in politics, and in entering decision making spaces. But we need more women and we need women to be acting on behalf of other women to make it easier for those excluded from the labour market to enter it.