Entries by

Augustine Zycher

MOVE OVER BATMAN – OLDER WOMEN ARE SAVING THE WORLD

We know that Batman cloaked in his cape and mask, was instantly recognisable when saving the world. But when older women are literally saving the world during this pandemic, they are cloaked in invisibility and masked by anonymity.

Remarkably, all around the world there is a predominance of women aged over 50 involved in the invention and in the development of most Covid19 vaccines. This applies to AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharma and CanSino, Covaxin, and Sputnik V.

Nevertheless, most people are totally unaware of this.

“Who invented the Covid19 vaccine and why don’t we know their names?” 
someone asked on Twitter. In reply I tweeted: 
“ Because most of them are women aged over 50.”

Therefore, as a social enterprise advocating for women aged 50+, WomanGoingPlaces chooses to give due recognition to some of the leading women who individually and collectively, are in the frontline against a disease that has already killed over 4.1 million people and infected over 195 million.

WomanGoingPlaces – a Social Enterprise Advocating for Australian Women Aged 50+

Why have we established WomanGoingPlaces as a Social Enterprise Advocating for Australian Women Aged 50+?

Governments and societies around the world have no idea what to do with an ageing population of women. By 2030, 28.7% of Australians will be aged 55 and over. The majority will be women. Women over 50 already represent 35% out of the total Australian female population of 12.9 million.

There are no policies and no roadmaps for such a radical change in the composition of society and the impact it will have on the economy. Instead, this whole issue is overlooked, ignored and cloaked with a mantle of invisibility by governments, business, the media, and sometimes even some women’s organisations.

In Australia, the US, England and indeed globally, older women are facing significant economic insecurity and social exclusion, particularly since the pandemic. Over a million Australian women 50+ are already below the poverty line and more than 400,000 are homeless. They are the demographic becoming homeless in greatest numbers at the fastest rate. The scale and severity of the social dislocation, impoverishment and homelessness of Australian women 50+ must be recognised as an escalating social crisis.

WomanGoingPlaces is dedicated to spotlighting this crisis and to advocating for action. Our journalism identifies the broader issues of the position of women 50+ in our society. We campaign against the barriers, discrimination and general invisibility we face. WomanGoingPlaces also tell the stories of Australian women50+, society’s unlikely innovators, re-inventing ourselves and re-defining how women age. This is our social purpose.

Intergenerational Report

The Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, in presenting the Intergenerational Report recognised that Australia has an ageing population and a shrinking workforce. The Report finds that one of the best ways of boosting the workforce and national productivity is through the employment of older women, including women over 65.

Surprise! Surprise!

Had the Treasurer subscribed to WomanGoingPlaces he would have seen that we have been advocating for this for some time now. Women over 50 are a massive national resource. They possess vast experience and knowledge as professionals and skilled workers. But the Morrison Government has treated them as a burden on the public purse.

Australia’s Ominous Social Crisis

Australia has never before witnessed the sort of ominous social crisis that is unfolding now.
Australia has never before had a demographic defined by age and gender, plunged into poverty and homelessness on a mass scale.

There are already more than 400,000 women over the age of 50 for whom this is a reality. It is a outcome of government policies, gender inequality and social prejudice.

Poverty is essentially a choice made by the Government. We saw this during Covid when people were raised from below the poverty line & the homeless were housed. If Budget 2021 fails to address the economic, social and housing disaster faced by older women then the Government bears direct responsibility for this escalating social crisis.

Older Female Workers

A perfect storm is facing hundreds of thousands of unemployed, underemployed and underpaid older female workers.

The Treasurer said job creation was a top priority in this Budget. It was also promoted as a Budget for women. In this spirit, funds were allocated to childcare for women with young children. And funds were allocated to people in aged care, the majority of whom are women.

But, if you fall between these two age groups, if you are a female worker aged over 50, then the Budget had a clear message – we don’t see you. There are no funds for you and you do not even rate a mention.

It is a spectacular omission given that one of the defining characteristics of Covid19 has been that older women have been the hardest hit with job losses and the least likely to be re-employed.

Christine Holgate, Australia Post and the Federal Government

Appearing before a special Senate inquiry, Christine Holgate presented a powerful and meticulously documented expose of the role of the Australia Post Board and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in her removal from her position as CEO of Australia Post. So convincing was her testimony, that she was able to do the unthinkable. She was able to unite Pauline Hanson, Bridget McKenzie, Sarah Hanson-Young and the rest of the committee behind her in exposing the duplicity and bullying that led to her removal.

Ms.Holgate has managed to energise a groundswell of public support for her position, particularly amongst women.
They recognise that despite being remarkably successful in her leadership role, a female CEO is still treated very differently to the way a male leader is treated.

When Women Roar

The March4Justice movement has achieved something remarkable for Australian women. It has transformed decades of private suffering into mass solidarity. 

For the first time, tens of thousands of women ended their silence about sexual abuse and injustice.

The ‘I’ has become the ‘We’.

The March4Justice protests that saw 110,000 people in 42 marches around the nation have not dissipated into silence. 

Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins and Katherine Thornton together ignited this explosion of rage. Their courage set off a spontaneous combustion of deep reserves of trauma, shame and frustration buried beneath silence. Women have had enough.

The events of the last month drove home to them that it’s not an individual problem, but a society-wide bias against women seeking justice and equality. The system is rigged against women and girls. 

The misogyny is institutionalised.

Women journalists and social media have given a platform to the voiceless and powerless.

999 Ways to Describe an Older Woman

The media attacks on Dr. Jill Biden remind us just how many people are offended by an older woman holding public office and not acting ‘her age’, even if she is the First Lady of the United States.

When Dr.Biden recently appeared in patterned tights and boots she was instantly condemned. Twitter users hurled sexist and ageist jokes at the 69-year-old educator. Numerous tweets called her names like “hag,” “hooker”, “trash and “witch”. One tweet advised that ” For an additional $29.99 Jill Biden could have accessorized her Halloween costume with the optional broom.”

In a society that values women primarily for their youthful beauty, sexual and reproductive powers, the more we age, the more our currency as women is devalued. 

And it is reflected in the language.

Some common names for women over 50 – old bag, granny, biddy, crone, hag, witch, harridan, bedlam, old bat, old boiler – are just some of the names we hear.

Google offers over 999+ adjectives to describe an older or old woman. They are uniformly pejorative.

Open Letter to Premier Daniel Andrews

Don’t fail Victorian women in the upcoming State Budget. The Federal Budget failed Australian women.

It is illusory to think that there can be economic recovery without the full participation of women of all ages.

Affordable childcare has to be a cornerstone of Victoria’s Budget.
Policies targeted at older women are another cornerstone.
So too is social housing.

The progressive exclusion of women 50+ from the workforce is one of the most serious violations of women’s rights in Australia & it is happening on a mass scale. As a result these women constitute the majority of unemployed, those on welfare and the homeless. The Victorian Budget can halt this process of impoverishment with incentives for employment instead of age discrimination policies such as JobMaker.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Shattering The Age Barrier

In all the tributes to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for shattering the barriers denying her and other women justice and equality, haven’t we overlooked what was staring us in the face? Justice Ginsburg was an old woman aged 87 when she died. And the last barrier she shattered was the one erected in the path of women when they reach the age of 50. 

RBG was at the height of her power and influence in the 27 years between the ages of 60 and 87. She was 60, when she was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the age when most women are regarded as being way past their “use by” date.

But most probably, if Justice Ginsburg had taken off her robes and and unrecognised, applied for a job in Australia, she would be treated the same way other women her age are treated. Most employers would consider her unemployable and refuse to give her work, and Government would resent such an unproductive person as a drain on resources. In a pandemic they might readily agree that she be sacrificed on the altar of economic recovery.