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Welcome to the WRAP number 3. 

This month the media has been saturated with issues concerning the rights and concerns of women and here at MCWH HQ we couldn't be happier ...

Well, actually, we could: there's no question that gender inequality should be a major consideration in all our public discussions about who we are, and who we want to be as a nation. But we can't help but notice that public discourse doesn't seem to be able to manage thinking through gender AND migrant inequity simultaneously. Baby steps, maybe, but for the 2,700,391 overseas born women recorded in the last census, inequity is more complex than either sexism or racism.

Enough said. This WRAP we're talking free range eggs and poverty, then spending a fantastic 60 seconds with lawyer Azmeena Hussein. 

Have a happy and safe Worksafe Week!
The Wrap Team

"The New Fred Meyeron Interstate on Lombard"
Image "The New Fred Meyer on Interstate on Lombard" courtesy of lyzadanger on flickr

Certified Occupational Health and Safety?

I like my eggs certified free range. It matters to me that hens are living a good, healthy life. It matters that there are standards for their safety and wellbeing, and it matters that those standards are applied and upheld. But beyond the henhouse, when it comes to the impact of food processing, or any factory processing for that matter, on human health and wellbeing, there’s no little stamp promising workers safety. Can we be so sure that there’s no need for concern? According to the findings of a Safe Work Australia report, no we can’t.

Safe Work Australia found that women shift workers and those in casual employment are significantly more likely to suffer an occupational injury than other Australian workers. Labourers (the usual category for factory workers) are particularly vulnerable, with the highest frequency rate of injuries compared with all other occupations. At around 73 injuries per million hours worked, women working as labourers topped the list, with over three times the rate of injury experienced by women with the lowest rate (clerical and administration workers). They also beat the male labourers, who clocked in at 57 injuries per million hours.

We know that immigrant and refugee women are concentrated in the types of jobs highlighted as particularly risky: manual labour, manufacturing environments, casual tenure and shift work. Just this month, a group of Vietnamese women factory workers spoke out about endemic bullying in their food manufacturing workplace. As the Safe Work report shows, the experiences of this group of women are not isolated incidents; the risks are high within these sorts of industries and if we're going to reduce them what’s needed is improved regulation, combined with concerted bilingual education and information.

Shouldn't we be able to sit down to our family dinners knowing that no person was harmed in the making of our meal?

 image courtesy of kagemusha @ flickr
Image (2010) courtesy of O. Teicke on Flickr.

Poverty: it’s not only about the money

It‘s perhaps timely that the release of the Poverty in Australia Report Report has followed hot on the heels of that Gillard speech. While our first female Prime Minister has brought attention, on a global scale, to the undermined status of women in office and in society as a whole, the ACOSS Report has backed the PM’s argument with some iron-clad facts. Whether or not you think it’s about playing the sexism card, it’s difficult to deny that in the game of ‘power is money’, women are being dealt a losing hand.

As the report findings make clear, if you’re woman; a lone parent; or if you come from a non-English speaking country, your risk of poverty is significantly higher. It’s not rocket science then to work out that if you’re a single mother from a non-English speaking country then you’ve just about tripled your risk of poverty. Add to this what we know about the increased risk for, and over-representation of, immigrant and refugee women in relation to an array of preventable illnesses and the dire situation of women’s inequity becomes even more stark.

The link between poverty and ill health is now well-known in the international literature yet there is still very little comprehensive research about immigrant and refugee women’s health status in Australia and the ways in which health inequities can alleviated. According to the latest census data, for example, women living in Australia who are born in Pakistan and Afghanistan earn a median gross weekly income of $59 and $193 respectively. But money is only one part of the problem and the solution. Being income poor is not the same as being socially excluded and for many immigrant and refugee communities, and especially for the women of those communities, poverty and social exclusion are twin realities.

Would anyone dare suggest the racism card is being played in this instance?

60 seconds with Azmeena Hussein

lawyer, food lover, member of the Victorian Women's Lawyers and the Australian Multicultural Foundation

If you were a super-heroine, what powers would you like to have?
The ability to have an answer to everything. In return, be able to cure diseases, resolve global poverty and advance global understanding.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australian culture, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to be different, and to share your knowledge, values and culture. With difference comes diversity and with diversity comes a wealth of knowledge and understanding.

What’s your favourite word in the English language? Why?
Justice – because every individual has a right to it.

What would you work for instead of money?
That rewarding feeling you get when you know you've made a positive change in someone's life. Someone marginalized or vulnerable - It's pretty much what I do everyday, but don’t let my work know I’d happily do it for free!
What’s your favourite possession?
My red stilettos 
What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Working with like-minded superstars who are passionate about equality for woman, and advancement of women in positions of leadership, especially in the legal profession. 


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