I received 6 years of public school education, 7 years of private school education and 5 years of tertiary education. I hold a degree from one of Australia’s most prestigious universities, paid for by partially scholarships and the remaining with government loans. I chose to start working casually at 16 and I had a fulltime job within a week of graduating university. I am paid on par with my male colleagues and I have access, should I need it, to a range of paid leave. I have requested and received pay increases and I negotiated my pay when I started my current role. I walk past the homeless on my walk home to my clean, spacious apartment in a safe neighbourhood. I worship my God and Saviour Jesus without any fear each week. I have access to subsidised healthcare and the ability to pay for it when my largely healthy body fails me. I could go on. So why do I care about International Women’s Day? Because although the taste of inequality or the voices that I hear to combat it pale in comparison to other women in Australia and around the world, it’s a taste nonetheless. Inequality as a privileged white woman:   From a well-meaning housemate: “You really shouldn’t run that late, particularly around that area. You know what happened [at that bridge], right?” From the guy walking passed me on the street: “Hey, why so sad? You’re beautiful. Smile for me. I’ll make it worth your while.” From the book on my bookshelf and from the stage at conferences: “Don’t let the first salary offer be the one you take. Challenge it. Ask for a rise when you think you add more value to the company than you’re currently receiving in your pay packet.” From the conservative church: “We’d love your help on this…Great idea, please allow us [men] to take it from here.” From the tech in travel conference website: *List of 40 names, 36 men, 4 women* Inequality in Australia and the world: While I’ve experienced ‘cat calls’ and uninvited propositions, the reality is there was a 25% chance one of the women I sat beside in classes at university would be sexually assaulted, harassed or receive unwanted behaviour while studying. But statistically, if she tragically experienced it and courageously reported it, she’d join a whopping <1.5%. Outside those sandstone walls, we have women sexually assaulted in their homes and women forced into prostitution. (2016, The University of Sydney) While I receive equal pay thanks to enterprise bargaining, I share a house with a woman in a very similar role + industry who does not. Queensland women receive 16% less than men as an average of weekly earnings (2017, Workplace Gender Equality Agency). Globally, women are disproportionally represented in low-paying, insecure and undervalued household work (2015, UN Women) While I have the luxury to work in an professional field with a high proportion women, I live in a country where the proportion of women in management drops from 37% in any management role to 16.3% in the C-suite (2015, AFR). Should we jump across to our political scene, women make up only 29% of Australian parliaments (2015, The Guardian). Globally? 23%. (2016, World Bank) While I have a pastor who is willing to boldly speak up for change in the church and society, the Christian church has historically upheld patriarchal structures in their attempt to interpret and practice scripture. It is not uncommon for Australian churches to have little to no women involved in church services or have paid roles within the church at large. Outside Australia and the Christian faith, women are taught to practice more faith-based gender protocols than men. Women are segregated during religious services, restricted from entering particular places of worship or perhaps during menstruation, and unable to take up leadership or instructing roles. Further, practices, largely taught and regulated by men of faith, can involve physical mutilation, non-consensual youth marriage or excommunication for failing to adhere to discriminatory gender-specific teachings. So despite being a privileged white woman, and knowing it’s not just about me, I’m motivated and passionate about this singular day and on the 364 that follow it. Men and women are all made in the image of God and intricately different from each other. However discrimination, harassment and inequality continues to prevail. Today is public reminder of my privilege and reminder to be bold for change.
Hamish Blake made a little Flipagram of his wife Zoe Foster Blake and the literal+figurative hats she regularly wears. Spotify suggested some female artist playlists I may be interested in. Virgin Australia ‘grammed an all women crew who recently flew Sydney-Adelaide. David Jones launched a new ‘At the DJ table’ video content series “featuring an incredible group of Australian women.” The NSW Police Force posted a ‘shout out’ with a photo of women officers marching. My old boss and dear friend posted a pic of the old office crew decked in purple attire. Mike Baird announced the NSW Public Service was now 100% flexible for all senior staff. Sisters are doing it for themselves. On International Women’s Day, we wanted to share this great shot of our all-female flight crew taking the reins on a trip from Sydney to Adelaide recently. A photo posted by Virgin Australia (@virginaustralia) on Mar 7, 2016 at 2:06pm PST My commute and lunchtime social media scroll sessions today were filled with articles, photos, quotes and statements of support for International Women’s Day. And so it should. Today is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women – locally, nationally and globally. It’s been celebrated in varying degrees for more than a century and remains an opportunity to demonstrate how we value 49.6% of our world population, the same proportion who continue to struggle with structural and cultural inequality. It’s also a platform to bring pertinent gender issues to the forefront. Brands, corporations, government and media agencies all celebrated differently. This weekend there were women’s fun runs and triathlons, today there were breakfasts, policy announcements, advertisements, social media posts and editorials. Their support of women was unquestionable. However, there was one key institution absent from the celebrations. The church. I used my lunch break to extensively search the internet – in hope. I trawled through the Facebook and Twitter channels of notable pastors, large churches and Christian organisations. I looked on key websites for opinion editorials or blog articles. I looked for anything or anyone recognising today, even just a humble #internationalwomensday. Here’s what I found: –          Michael Jensen shared this post on the value and role of men and women. ‘For Christians, woman aren’t property or baby makers. We’re witness to the life of Jesus Christ in our bodies…. Posted by Michael Jensen on Monday, March 7, 2016   –          John Dickson took the opportunity to share and challenge the doctrinal position held by the Sydney Anglican Diocese on women preaching. This International Women’s Day might be a good moment to revisit what was once (up until about 1990) the standard… Posted by John Dickson on Monday, March 7, 2016   –          Eternity magazine online re-posted an Open Doors article on women in Iraqi refugee camps.   Nothing from Australia’s largest church Hillsong. (Although it is their second of three women’s conferences today, so I’d be surprised if they didn’t do something with the 5000+ in attendance.) Nothing from some of Sydney’s largest churches. Nothing from my new church in Brisbane. Nothing from the leaders of Australia’s churches. It makes me wonder, why is the church not joining the rest of society in celebrating women? We live in a day that equality is high on the agenda: be it gender, marriage or economic. Further, we live in a day that society is very critical of the church. And for good reason, the church, as an institution, does not have such a great track record with inclusion and transparency. The same sex marriage conversation is evidence enough. The inclusion of ‘to submit’ in marriage vows brought the biblical role of women in marriage into the spotlight a few years ago. And even in February, ABC deemed it newsworthy to publish an article on the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney’s response to a question on gender equality at the annual prefect ceremony. The students were torn in how to reconcile his comments and the empowering words of their teachers, and society. I can understand why. Women make up half the population and close to 60% of the Australian church. Be it conscious or unconscious, the decision for the church to neglect the largest international day celebrating women adds propensity to the argument that the church doesn’t value women equally. See in the church failing to recognise the importance of day, it fails in joining the rest of our society is demonstrating we value and celebrate women and their role in our communities. And while men largely lead the church, a theological conversation I’m not having here, today was an opportunity for men and women. An opportunity for brothers and sisters alike to rally around their sisters past, present and future. Celebrating International Women’s Day is about saying to women “we love, care, appreciate, support and need you”. It’s saying it to every woman as she seeks equality in her life as a daughter, sister, mother, wife, worker, volunteer, teacher, nurse, truck driver, policewoman, children’s worker, pastor, student minister or corporate executive. At a personal level, I know my church values women. When a sister and I raised our frustrations that the past 4 video testimonies at church had been men, my campus pastor said he shared them and knew the next 4 would be women. If only they could be more equally distributed. And again, when deciding on making it my new home church, I shared the lack of women involved in the services bothered me. It concerned him also. He shared the problem was often having enough women willing to be involved. Taking time to celebrate women encourages women to continue on as they are, to look and push for opportunities, to enable (with words of affirmation and training) our sisters to be bold and serve, but also shows young girls to aspire to take active roles in their church. It also encourages our brothers to look to publicly and privately encourage, acknowledge and support women in the church. I hope the church values women, and I mourn the decision of friends to leave the church and the faith because they don’t believe so. But we need to hear it and see it to believe it. Women have played a huge role in the history of the church. Women continue to play a critical role in the church. Literally. Without women the church would more than halve. Celebrating women today shows the future generations that the church does indeed recognise equality of men and women, irrespective of how scripture is interpreted and played out in denominations and individual churches. We need today to remind us we need to pray, encourage, train and nurture women to continue to be active in the church, for Christ’s glory. When I ask the question, ‘why isn’t the church celebrating women?’ I am being deliberately provocative. But we need to be provoked.     As a post-script here are some Christian women I think are worth celebrating today: –          Florence Young, my great great aunt who led evangelistic outreaches to the Polynesian workers at her brothers’ sugar mills, served with China Inland Mission and established the South Sea Evangelical Mission –         Bobbie Houston, Hillsong cofounder who spearhead the Sisterhood ministries changing the way women meet together around the gospel –          Raechel Myers, co founder of She Reads Truth, a daily devotional website used by millions of women (and now men ‘hereadstruth.com’) regularly –      My dear friends A, H, E all currently understand ministry traineeships of various forms   Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
The starting point for a first home buyer is to get a good job that pays good money. If you’ve got a good job and it pays good money and you have security in relation to that job, then you can go to the bank and you can borrow money and that’s readily affordable. – The Hon. Joe Hockey, Treasurer 9 June 2015 Dear Mr Hockey, I have a good job, one that pays good money, and I have relative job security. But all that considering, dropping into my local bank branch and applying for a loan for a little slice of Sydney is not something I can do in the near future. You see, Mr Hockey, in your comments yesterday you belittled my efforts and came across as, well, a bit of an insensitive dick. I have a good job and honest job. I work hard. I’m a typical Aussie. I studied hard for five years in order to graduate with distinction from one of the best universities in Australia. It set me up to start full time work the week after I submitted my final assessment. I’ve now, by all measures, been working hard at my good job for 18months. During that time I pushed myself to understand the grown up world of money and strived to make wise decisions. I currently earn about the average amount among working Australians and above the average income for someone of a spirited 24. After making a small super contribution to meet my employer contributions of 17%, I diligently pay my taxes and a chip away at my $30k HECS debt. I’m left with just over 55% in net earnings. Of that I save 35%. How? I live with my parents. I then pay them 20% for the roof over my head, the food I consume and to insure my wellbeing. As for the rest of the money, well I’m a spendthrift. Wrong. I catch public transport to my job and use my car only on weekends. I give generously to others, including those who will never afford a roof over their heads. And with what’s left, about 20%, I enjoy life as a young wealthy woman: I eat brunch, I shop, I travel. I made a pretty chart to show you where my money goes. No drugs. No cigarettes. No alcohol…okay scrap the last one. But here’s the deal, even after intense saving I’m at least 3 years away from walking through the door of my local branch. And that’s if I continue to live under my parents’ roof. It will be more like 5 once I fly the coop in the coming spring. The price of a 2 bedroom flat, heck even a studio apartment in Sydney, and within a 30minute commute, is $500 000. The minimum deposit is 10%, a responsible deposit almost double. Add on stamp duty and a few other bits and bobs and I’m looking at a hefty $100k before I step in the direction of a mortgage broker. The loan will then be 4-6 times my gross income, a little less if my income grows as I hope it will over that period. My debt-to-income ratio will be unrealistic and rely on leasing a room to meet the repayments. Of course I could fast track efforts and find me a suitor… Mr Hockey, when you say I need a good job, you overlook my efforts and the barriers in my way – some of them you have contributed or propose in your recent budgets. There are less first-mortgage applications now than 10 years ago, prices are now unrealistic and outright ridiculous, and there are more foreign investors than ever before. But i mean you did caution me, Captain Obvious. Yes, it is a big financial risk to buy your own home. So if property is proving unaffordable for people with interest rates at record lows, then they should think carefully about how much they really can borrow, because you should always plan on in this situation interest rates potentially going up over the long term.  So, you’ve got to be careful, it is a big financial risk to buy your own home. – The Hon. Joe Hockey, Treasurer 9 June 2015 Perhaps my good job isn’t good enough for Sydney. I do love my city. I boast about it, but loving it isn’t going to change the reality I may not be able to afford it. Yes, as you said state governments could approve more developments, supply is likely to curb some of the pricing pressures, but then we get ourselves in hot water over infrastructure support for population density or its expanse. It’s not as simple as you presented it to be. After weighing up my options, I have decided I don’t want to keep commuting 2.5hours each day in order to save money more quickly. I also don’t want to be living with my parents at 25. I have decided to go out into the renters market, albeit if it will take longer to save for a deposit. I’ve come to accept I’ll probably be 30 by the time I have enough money…or perhaps I’ll just have to leave Sydney. Mr Hockey, I beg you, please don’t belittle this problem. You are privileged. You are also in a privileged position as a member of parliament. Use your position to make an impact and not the one you’ve made over the past 24 hours. Use your words carefully. Use your brain wisely. Use your purview to see about change. Don’t be an insensitive elitist.   Regards, A fellow Sydney-sider. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)