If you pay any attention at all to our politicians or sections of the media like the ABC then you will be used to hearing that women have borne the brunt of Covid. You may have also noticed that these claims, for all their histrionics, are short on facts. They certainly don’t mention that, contrary to all the hand-wringing, Covid is more likely to kill men than women. For the record, and since you won’t read it elsewhere, the Age Standardised Mortality Rates for Covid are currently 4.15 deaths per 100,000 for men and 3.12 for women. If those death rates were reversed, we’d doubtless have the feminists demanding that vaccines be withheld from men & women immunised first!
Against this background, in the November state budget, NSW introduced a new $10 million Return to Work program to help those whose employment has been affected by COVID-19 – but only if they are women. Men are excluded from the payment – regardless of need.
The Premier’s justification for excluding men was:
“It is estimated that women make up 53 per cent of directly affected industries and 65 per cent of secondary industries impacted by the pandemic.“[i]
The Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor, stated that women have been “inadvertedly [sic] more affected” by unemployment during the pandemic.[ii]
Strangely, the statements don’t quote the actual unemployment rates to show just how much worse the situation is for women. Thankfully, the Bureau of Statistics has an excellent web site & the data is easy to find. And what the data shows is that it is men, not women, who have been disproportionately affected. For every woman added to the NSW unemployed in the last 12 months, 2.7 men have become unemployed. To look at this another way, the unemployment rate for men has risen by 2.4% while it has only risen by 0.9% for women.[iii] In other words, the government’s statements are, on the kindest interpretation, extremely misleading. Assuming the government resources include someone with a web browser & a calculator, the government is likely aware of the facts & is deliberately misleading the public. So, despite men being hugely more affected, the government has excluded them from receiving the payment.
Covid has been terrible. In these dark times, the reaction of many Australians would be to stick together & look after each other. Sadly, the reaction of some has been to manipulate public sympathy to justify yet more discrimination against men. It is difficult to imagine a justification for discriminating against the needy in these difficult times, as the NSW government has done, or for misleading the public to justify that discrimination.
[i] From Government media release: https://www.dcj.nsw.gov.au/news-and-media/media-releases/$10-million-grants-program-to-assist-women-back-into-the-workforce
[ii] Reported by ABC: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-17/nsw-budget-2020-winners-and-losers/12877170?nw=0
[iii] Based on ABS Data for October. Data Series A84423494R, A84423718R, A84423490F & A84423714F. Since the budget & our original analysis, data has been released for November which shows a narrowing of the gap but men remain the most affected.