OPINION: 'Women's issues' are not what politicians think they are

Both parties understand they need to appeal to women to be elected, but there's more to Australia's women than babies and cupcakes.

The most frustrating thing about politicians vying for women’s votes is the things they think they need to do to win 'the women's vote'. They might want to start by understanding that the issues we care about are not really that different to the issues men care about.

Shorten was absolutely right when he said that “men in Australia rely on the women in Australia to do the childcare”. It’s not a statement about how things should be, it’s a statement about how things are. Where he went wrong was buying into that inequity, rather than addressing what most women know to be true: it’s the expectation that childcare is a “women’s issue” that does enormous damage to our financial and professional lives.

Women are not just all about vaginas and cupcakes.

The solution is not to further embed that expectation by providing women with more paid leave and money for childcare, it’s to push men into taking equal financial and nurturing responsibility for children. Iceland (oh, those Nordic countries!) did this by forcing parents to take equal time off to care for newborns, and expecting them to make equal changes to professional lives while they are caring for those children over the next eighteen years.

Politicians like to segment us into demographics and make notes in boxes about what each demographic cares about. So it can be confusing for them when women push the point that men are equally capable of loving and caring for their children, and therefore childcare is not a women’s issue, it’s a parent’s issue.

C’mon, politicians, disrespect us all equally!

Women are not just baby factories. We live successful, fulfilling lives without children and husbands. Those of us who do have children are even able to think and care about other things besides our loin fruits.

Here's a short list of issues that will help women decide how to vote next election:

- Quality, affordable healthcare

- Economic growth

- Housing affordability

- Equitable taxation system

- Unemployment

- Infrastructure (Hi, NBN Co!)

- Industrial relations

- Climate change

Women know their lives and futures are about more than babies and housework. We know we will have to have houses to live in, jobs to go to, a planet to care for and medical needs to attend to. We understand that government spending depends on taxation, we know the infrastructure our communities will require has to be planned and paid for responsibly. We understand the complexities of international relations and immigration politics.

C’mon, politicians, disrespect us all equally!