As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to highlight, much of the work that we consider essential is underpaid and undervalued.
Forced to put their own health at risk, the ‘caring workforce’ in particular—doctors, nurses, child-care workers and aged and disability care workers—have literally become the community’s life support. Many of these essential frontline workers are women who continue to work for less pay, often in insecure and precarious conditions.
However, this current historical moment is no exception. Throughout Australia’s history, migrant workers have endured difficult conditions, discrimination and exploitation, across many industries.
For migrant women, the intersection of gendered inequality with the discrimination, visa hurdles and barriers put up for migrants, too often makes the path to decision making roles elusive.
MCWH supports the equal rights of all migrant women to participate in employment, earn an income, enjoy the same rights and opportunities as other workers, be equally represented in decision-making roles, and to be valued and respected for work both paid and unpaid.
Read on to find out more about our work in this area.
Inequality in employment and opportunities for migrant and refugee women
The Healthwest Partnership Community Conversations Report, which MCWH co-authored, highlights the significant challenges faced by young people and women from migrant and refugee backgrounds when finding work. The report was drawn together from interviews conducted with twenty young people and women from migrant and refugee backgrounds in Melbourne’s west about their experiences of finding work in Australia.
The role of the workplace in promoting gender equality
A recent Victorian survey reported 64 percent of women experience bullying, harassment of violence in their workplace (Victorian Trades Hall Council, 2017).
Our Watch, the national leaders in the primary prevention of violence against women and their children, have found that workplaces and organisations are key settings for primary prevention activities, as they provide significant opportunity to reach large populations and influence organisational culture, working environments and practices, and social norms and relationships. Promoting gender equality in the workplace is one of the key recommendations of the 2016 Royal Commission into Family Violence.
For migrant and refugee women, workplaces might be one of the few places where they have access to information and resources about gender equality and capacity building. Workplace-based gender equality initiatives should address the different inequalities women face in the workplace, including exclusion and discrimination and provide opportunities for leadership, training pathways and recognition of women’s skills and qualifications.