How should we celebrate Women's International Day?
The Australian Liberal National Party (LNP) answered that question in quite an unexpected, yet old-fashioned manner. The #Prime Minister's party will celebrate the occasion at the Tettersall's club in Brisbane. Ironically enough, this all-men's club bans women from becoming members and to enter its premises, unless they own a 'partner's card'.
This is no joke, quite the opposite in fact. Tony Abbott seems convinced that this is symbolically the best way possible to celebrate IWD, as he claimed that "they [the LNP] have made the man-only club admit women". Mr Abbott seems to forget that the lunch is an exception to the club's policy, which will keep banning women's membership.
One more blunder on the list
It must be said that this piece of news adds to the many blunders Australia's Prime Minister has accumulated regarding his stance on women. Back in 2009, in a panel discussion about Religion, Sex, and Politics, Tony Abbott made quite a paradoxical statement: " I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman's right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man's right to demand". Women's sexual freedom or submission: which is it going to be, Tony?
Not that long ago, when asked what his best achievement as Minister for Women had been, Abbott pulled the carbon tax repeal out. You should think: What does the carbon tax have to do with anything? Well, to the Prime Minister, this makes sense because, as everyone knows, women are "particularly focused on the household budget". Get it now?
Tony Abbott's gender equality policy: On the road to change?
But we should not worry. The Prime Minister's offensive statements towards women days are over. At least we'd like to think so after he called himself a feminist in his speech on last year's IWD, where he acknowledged that his "views on policy towards women have changed and evolved."
Have they? Well, maybe. It is true that the number of women in his cabinet has doubled; we can give him that. He did also put domestic violence on the national agenda (one woman dies every week from domestic violence in Australia).
Wait, I take that back. The amount of women in his cabinet has been doubled from just 1 to… just 2. And putting issues on the political agenda is one thing, but implementing actual policies to tackle them is another one. So where is our Mr Prime Minister at with implementation?
The news on that front isn't pretty either. After dropping his Parental Paid Leave proposal early February, Tony Abbott promised he will make it up to women, by, he said, preparing a childcare policy package to make it easier for them to go back to work after having had a baby. Good! Can we trust him? Doubtfully, as all he promised to do for now is launch a consultation process, although the latter has already been done over and over before. All he needs to know is already in a report the Productivity Commission has been drafting for the past two years and has already sent to the government.
Tony Abbott, a feminist? 'Not yet' doesn't even begin to describe it.