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Whilst largely satisfied with the way the Budget has catered for women, female founders are saying there is room to create greater opportunities for support.
The landmark 2020/21 Budget on Tuesday evening included $231 million for the second Women’s Economic Security Package.
This includes $35.9 million to increase the number of co-funding grants to women-founded start-ups, and to provide women in business access to expert mentoring and advice from women entrepreneurs.
“There are obviously areas that I feel women did miss out,” said Amanda Rose, founder and CEO of Small Business Women Australia. “But I did like it.”
The package also provides $25.1 million to establish new Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives, and a further $14.5 million to support existing initiatives.
“I really liked that because even though a lot of people talk about women being in traditional roles (health, education and so forth) what the Budget is trying to do is prepare women for where the roles will be in the future,” said Ms Rose.
“I’m glad that they’re giving women the opportunity now, and young girls in any age, really to prepare for the jobs that will come about from all the infrastructure that’s happening”
A survey put together earlier this year by Small Business Women Australia found that over a third of women were eager for new opportunities and innovations that a post COVID business model will entail.
“This budget actually gives them those opportunities,” said Ms Rose. “It will help them think of other ways to earn a living, and to grow their businesses.”
Room for more opportunities for women
Whilst Ms Rose acknowledged that the Budget made some positive improvements for women in business, she also highlighted areas of opportunity to provide women with more jobs.
“An area the Budget missed was for women over the age of 60 or those who are experiencing domestic violence.”
“They need upskilling, but they need more than just upskilling,” she said. “What they need is a mentoring program to assist them build their confidence, and help them to start again.”
With $7.5 billion being dedicated to infrastructure this Budget, to support 40,000 jobs, Ms Rose is calling for quotas to help distribute those jobs fairly among the genders.
“We have business on women owned businesses that are in architecture, engineering, and hospitality”
“The Government needs to have a percentage, just like they do for disadvantaged groups, of small businesses run by women to give them a share of the contracts.”
Further criticism comes from Global Sisters CEO Mandy Richards, calling the $240 million dedicated to women-specific programs “underwhelming”.
“Over half of the Australian population is female, and women have been more impacted by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic than their male counterparts,” she said.
“The Government should be applauded for injecting the economy with the largest fiscal stimulus the country has ever seen. These measures will go a long way in cushioning the economic fall-out from the crisis, and generating jobs.
“But in a stimulus package running into the hundreds of billions, a mere $240 million of specific programs for women is underwhelming.”