The value of the homemaker and why she should be involved in the national accounts

Jessica attended the 2017 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 61st Session as a Global Voices National Scholar. She is a reporter for the Australian Financial Review.


Sometimes she’s a cook, sometimes she’s a housekeeper. Heck, these days she’s probably both a chauffeur and a mechanic. Regardless of which way you spin it, a lot of work goes on running a household and in a shocking twist, the Real Housewives of Melbourne has been found to include inaccuracies.

As economists the world over grapple with the task of measuring digital output and confront the genuinely flawed methodology of gross domestic product, I’d like to argue it is a perfect time to begin fulfilling our global obligation to measure the staggering amount of unpaid work that goes on in the homes.

This is crucial, not only so we can develop effective and appropriate childcare, tax and industrial relations policy, but also to empower and acknowledge that the domestic roles of women haven’t changed, regardless of how much workforce participation has improved. Instead of alleviating and spreading the tasks of running a household, which does indeed constitute economic output, we have simply added it to a woman’s full-time workload. And rather than celebrate and appreciate the role of homemakers in our society, we risk depressing and devaluing one of the most valuable contributors.

This paper looks at the current flaws in GDP, using the internet as an example; it then explains how to measure unpaid domestic work and then looks at the widespread benefits of acknowledging this often invisible societal powerhouse.

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Missing in Mining: Women's Livelihoods in Regional, Industrial Communities

Melanie attended the 2017 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 61st Session where she represented CQ University. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Public Health (Health Promotion)


Australian women are subject to gender inequality in most realms of life due to a strong, engrained patriarchal culture. A gender divide is evident in the mining industry, where women are profoundly underrepresented in the workforce, impacting not only on their employment prospects but also their abilities to thrive in industrial-reliant regions and maintain economic empowerment. This report discusses women in the mining industry and the associated industry aspects that influence women’s livelihoods. Ultimately, women are missing in mining due to three key barriers: 1) an entrenched, masculine culture which reflects women as domestic homemakers and not fit for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematic) roles, 2) limitations in opportunities including shortages in training options, inflexible industry structures, and a lack of supportive family provisions, and 3) the economic, social and health impacts associated with living in mining- dependent communities. It is vital that women receive equal opportunities within the industry, and that strategies are developed to build diversity within the workforce, workplace and the adjoining communities.

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Intersectionality: Aboriginal Women and Employment

Tara attended the 2017 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women where she represented Charles Darwin University. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Indigenous Resource Management & Indigenous Social Policy)


Colonisation involved the implementation of an overriding patriarchal system through the intentional dismemberment of traditional Aboriginal economic, political, social, spiritual and ceremonial domains. Aboriginal women have had their land, families and personal autonomy systematically removed by generations of discriminative government policy, whilst simultaneously being blamed for their low socio-economic position in Australian society. This continues to perpetuate the colonial and patriarchal oppression of Aboriginal women inherited by society today.

Aboriginal women are already vulnerable to living in poverty, and to psychological distress associated with these material living conditions. Growing inequality further risks marginalising Aboriginal women by making it more difficult to access health, housing and employment, as well as increasing stigma and diminishing equality of opportunity more generally.

In Central Australia, Aboriginal women commonly experience discrimination in the workplace on two fronts; firstly, based on their Aboriginality and secondly, based on gender. The combination of these intersecting axes disempower Indigenous women to a degree not experienced by white, or ‘racially privileged’ women and cannot be understood by thinking about race or gender in isolation. Intersectionality is the concept of such tension.

This paper aims to explore intersectionality in a post-colonial Australian context and to identify the relationship between social determinants and economic empowerment for Aboriginal women in Central Australia.

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Increasing female representation in politics: A top down approach to gender issues across Australia

Kyle attended the 2017 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 61st session representing the University of South Australia. Kyle is studying a Bachelor of Arts - International Relations with a Bachelor in Social Work.


While roughly 50% of the Australian population is made up of women, the number of women in Australian politics is significantly less. Not only does a government comprising mostly of men not accurately represent the Australian community, it also runs the risk of not putting forward issues that matter to women. Furthermore, women approach issues in a different way to men, providing different perspectives based on their values, concerns and experiences, which ultimately provides a new insight on current issues (UN Women, 1995. p. 120). Therefore, it is imperative to have the input of both men and women in Australian parliament. This fact is summarised succinctly and clearly by the Youth for Technology Foundation (2013), who states “no government can claim to be democratic until women are guaranteed the right to equal representation”.

Former Prime Minister John Howard recently stated at the National Press Club in Canberra that gender equality in Parliament is unrealistic due to the fact that women are often hindered in the pursuit of a political career because of family and caring responsibilities (McIlroy, 2016). While family responsibilities may be a key reason as to why women are less likely to pursue a career, political or otherwise, this should be seen as an obstacle that needs to be overcome, not an inherent aspect of life that cannot be altered. Three recommendations will be put forward in this paper as a means of overcoming such obstacles, in order to ensure that women are in a position to run for political office.

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Disruptive public policy, women in leadership and Australia's journey for equality

Natasha attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 61st Session where she represented The University of Sydney. She is currently studying a Bachelor of International and Global Studies.


Collaboration between civil society, public and private sectors, will produce policy that effectively targets structural barriers to women in leadership. Achieving substantive equality in both institutional settings and broader society requires not only organisational change, but cultural change. These are the central claims of this research paper.

Encouraging women into leadership positions and to participate in decision-making forums is critical to the meaningful empowerment of women. In the modern workforce of market competition and the persistently tricky work/life balance, there is significant potential for organisations to address structural barriers such as parental leave and unconscious bias in recruitment and career progression.

This paper contends that by collaborating across sectors, we are able to produce more nuanced and effective workplace policy. Policy recommendations that are made include; researching the key barriers to achieving leadership for women and general attitudes to women in work, the creation of a Women in Leadership Working Group to be facilitated by the Office for Women or Workplace Gender Equality Agency, establishing a monitoring and evaluation framework for those who have made commitments to this working group to increase women in leadership and lastly, the creation of a formal forum or expert advisory panel to provide advice on Australia’s influence on women and work abroad. The paper will conclude by explaining that it is important that women are in leadership positions as it changes what people think is possible for themselves and for their children.

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