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Girls & Women

Coronavirus Could Push More Australian Women Into Poverty, Experts Say


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Almost 40% of single retired women live in poverty in Australia. Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations’ Global Goals, including goal 1 for no poverty, goal 5 for gender equality, and goal 10 for reduced inequalities. Join the movement and take action on these issues and more here.

Australian women will be especially financially hit by the COVID-19 crisis, Australia’s chief feminist organisation says. 

CEO of YWCA Australia Michelle Phillips has warned the Australian government that its initiative for tax-free withdrawal from superannuation savings could push women into poverty and homelessness. Instead of leaving at-risk women with no other option but to draw on their small retirement funds, YWCA has called for distinct funds to be made available. 

"We are urging the government to ensure that emergency funding and welfare support is directed at the most vulnerable people in our communities and that includes single mothers, women on low incomes, women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women,” Phillips told the Courier Mail.

Phillips added: “Just as the Commonwealth is assisting big businesses and banks at this time, we are calling for it to also help those women who are financially disadvantaged and at risk of being pushed into poverty to survive the impacts of this pandemic.”


The average Australian woman retires with 42% less in superannuation than the average man.

According to Phillips, this stems back to the fact that the gender pay gap sees women earn 14% less each week than men, as well as the much higher number of women who supply unpaid caregiving and therefore are employed in part-time or casual work.

As a result, women over the age of 50 are the group most vulnerable to homelessness in Australia. 

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Alongside a specific fund for vulnerable women, YWCA has joined the Australian Council of Social Services and other key community sector organisations to campaign for a “gendered lens” on all aspects of the COVID-19 crisis response.

Together, the groups have called for the government to increase funding for domestic and family violence services — stemming from fears the coronavirus crisis could see women and children self-isolating with their abusers. Calls have also been made for sector experts to be included in policy decision-making

The Australian government continues to release new significant economic stimulus packages to aid Australians. 

In addition to offering tax-free withdrawals from superannuation savings, tax-free payments of up to $100,000 AUD are available for small and medium business owners, sole traders and casual workers can receive fortnightly payments and an additional one-off payment of $750 is available for Australians who already receive a range of government benefits.

You can see all of Global Citizen's COVID-19 coverage here.

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