I was sitting at my desk last Friday, signing off on the final detail of the September 2017 Retirement Affordability Index, when I received an angry email from a dear and trusted friend.
“WTF is going on with the Seniors’ Week awards,” she asked? “Was it mates of Harvey Weinstein who made the decision?”
Wow! What was going on that made my (usually) mild-mannered friend so furious? So I followed the link to the list of awards, given by the Victorian Government, to honour the contribution of older Victorians
And I could see the problem.
Of the 15 awards, 10 went to men, four to women and one to an organisation.
We checked the Australian Bureau of Statistics most recent release for the percentages of males and females aged 60 and over, and it is 47 per cent males and 53 per cent females. So if the awards were representative of people in the age group, it would mean eight would have gone to women and seven to men.
But no, not so.
Now to be fair to all the winners, it is important to note that each and every one seems to have made a valuable contribution to their community and the state of Victoria.
But why are women so under recognised? Is it because no one nominated them? Are you meant to nominate yourself? And if so, are men more inclined to do this that women? Maybe women are so busy doing volunteer work they didn’t have time to nominate? It’s hard to discern.
But as my (now) feisty friend pointed out – and forgive her language – she really is cross:
“FFS we crush men when it comes to volunteering and making a difference in our community. And we do it right through our lives, not just when we’ve got time. We make time right through our lives for what matters.
“Who was making the decision? I reckon it might be a friend of Harvey Weinstein’s who also grew up in a different era, an era when women’s contribution was secondary to that of men, whatever form it took.”
I’m with her on this point. During the time I have worked on the YourLifeChoices website (17 years), I have witnessed an amazing willingness from older men and women to step up and volunteer, giving their time and energy for the benefit of others.
But when it comes to women, it is situation normal for so many who have done this at most stages of their lives, as kindergarten mum, school canteen workers, sports club organisers, and carers of friends and relatives. They just don’t shout about it.
So let’s see if we can even the playing field and work towards a much fairer situation in 2018, where at least 50 per cent of the Victorian Senior of the Year Awards are presented to women who are working in their communities. To bring this about, YourLifeChoices will send a copy of this article to Martin Foley, the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing and ask him if he is happy to consider this request. We will let you know how we get on.
What do you think? Should the seniors awards be gender representative? Are you, like Kaye’s feisty friend, bothered that only four women made the cut?