Credlin’s feminist posturing rings hollow

Credlin’s feminist posturing rings hollow

Regrettably, it’s standard operating procedure in politics, business and the media to respond to criticism by trying to destroy the credibility of the critic. Attack is almost always considered the best form of defence — just ask Gillian Triggs.

So it should come as no surprise that only days after Abbott proxy Peta Credlin was essentially accused of undermining another Liberal woman, Credlin in turn lashed out at PM Malcolm Turnbull with the claim that female Liberal supporters were deserting him.

Interestingly, Credlin used the Australian Election Study (AES), the nation’s only longitudinal survey of voters, to justify her claims. The AES is an imperfect tool — as are all surveys — with one of its limitations being that its data is collected straight after each federal election, when the news media is brimming with post-fact analysis and attempts by political players to frame the outcome in their favour.

According to Credlin’s interpretation of the most recent AES, which shows a lower proportion of women saying they voted for the Coalition in 2016 than 2013, Malcolm Turnbull has a worse “women problem” than Tony Abbott.

There could be many reasons for the drop in female voter support for the Coalition under Turnbull, not the least of which is the national trend of women moving away from the Coalition since the days of John Howard, and which is in line with the global trend of women moving away from right-of-centre parties.

Then there’s the fact that Turnbull has proven to be the most disappointing prime minister since Kevin Rudd — perhaps even more so.

Whatever the reason for the Coalition falling out with women, it suited Credlin to emphasise the change to deflect criticism of her being involved in a challenge against cabinet minister and new mother, Kelly O’Dwyer.

Credlin works hard to cultivate the impression that she’s an advocate and supporter of the advancement of women. So it was a very bad look for her to be associated — even if it was only in name — with a plot to bring down O’Dwyer.

The women Credlin did support during her time with Abbott, in the workplace and in the media, are steadfastly loyal. And Credlin reportedly repaid that loyalty with patronage. She was known to provide favoured female journalists with click-worthy leaks and exclusive stories, and over-rule ministers to appoint her own female friends and supporters to ministerial offices.

However, there’s another cohort of women whose careers Credlin thwarted during her time in Abbott’s office. One doesn’t have to look too far to find the stories of female Coalition staffers whose appointments or promotions were blocked by Credlin, as well as those who clashed with her, only to suddenly go on leave and then quietly disappear altogether.

And then there are the female MPs, who, under Credlin and Abbott, were not “good enough” for the junior ministry or cabinet, but who miraculously qualified for promotion once Turnbull became PM.

Even the women who managed to get into Abbott’s ministry were reportedly given rough treatment by Abbott’s gatekeeper. One well-connected female journalist wrote that Credlin’s relationship with Julie Bishop was “toxic”, and that “younger women, including Victorian Liberal frontbencher Kelly O’Dwyer, seemed to spend years in the deep freeze”.

Credlin also demanded the sacking of a female journalist who was close to O’Dwyer, for having the temerity to write that the chief of staff had snubbed Julie Bishop by not inviting her to the launch of a mentoring program for female Liberal staffers.

The genesis of the mentoring scheme also points to the mixed feelings women had about Credlin during her time with Abbott. Credlin reportedly created the support program for conservative women after noting “the sisterhood” failed to come to her defence when Clive Palmer launched a sexist attack against her. (For the record, this writer was one of several women who did criticise Palmer for the attack.)

As is often the case with Credlin, there were different views as to whether this was the real reason for her starting the scheme. She may have also been attempting to address Abbott’s “women problem” by cultivating female staffers, or perhaps even trying to build a network of supporters to kickstart her own political career.

We’ll never know for sure, given the mentoring program barely lasted a year after the man who launched it — then-minister for women Tony Abbott — was removed from the Liberal leadership by his colleagues.

Speaking of Tony Abbott, the vengeful former PM obviously didn’t get the memo that he was meant to take the high moral ground on women this week. Credlin may have been more interested in settling scores with the Turnbull camp over the alleged O’Dwyer smear, but Abbott was busy repelling women voters by dog-whistling to the MRA-types who’ve shifted to One Nation.

Abbott used his new fortnightly slot with tabloid radio host Ray Hadley to take another whack at the Human Rights Commission, which would be scrapped under Abbott’s five-point plan to make the Coalition Great Again.

This time, Abbott took aim at the Turnbull-appointed Sex Discrimination Commissioner who’d proposed the government could help to promote women in the workforce by requiring “contracted organisations to demonstrate efforts to improve gender balance, with an ultimate goal of reaching a 40:40:20 gender balance”.

According to Abbott, proposals such as this were PC rubbish and “anti men”. The former PM apparently forgot his own administration retained the previous Labor government’s 40:40:20 policy (40% men, 40% women and 20% unspecified “to allow for flexibility”) for women on government boards, although it seems to have only paid lip service to the policy given the proportion of women on government boards dropped under Abbott’s watch.

That situation was reversed under Malcolm Turnbull and his cabinet-level Minister for Women Michaelia Cash who also strengthened the policy to 50:50 across all government boards with a minimum of 40% women for each board.

Unsurprisingly, Credlin dropped the “women’s problem” line of attack against Turnbull after Abbott flaunted his unreconstructed chauvinism to lure male voters away from Pauline Hanson.

She’s already framing the next battle with the Turnbull camp, suggesting Scott Morrison’s “good debt/bad debt” approach makes the government look “dodgy”.

Originally published at Crikey.

Why we need a quota for women in parliament

Why we need a quota for women in parliament

Australian women have had the right to vote and run for parliament for over 100 years. Yet it was not until 1943 that the first woman was actually elected.

Here we are, more than 70 years later, and still only 72 out of 226 members of the Australian Parliament are women – that’s three in ten.

It’s been a long, slow haul, and there’s clearly much more to be done. Women make up half the Australian population and we should also be half the elected politicians.

Why is it important to have more women in parliament? Because without women having a greater say in the making of laws that govern our country, governments will never really tackle the matters that are of greatest concern to women.

Even with the best of intentions, it can be difficult for male politicians to understand many of the issues facing us such as women’s health, the challenge of juggling work and family duties, or the difficulties faced when trying to re-enter the workforce after raising a family.

And then there is the struggle by older women to cope financially as they approach pension age, sometimes even being forced into homelessness. Well-paid male politicians may not even be aware of this issue, let alone be motivated to do something about it.

Domestic violence is a good example of an important issue that has been continually overlooked because men are less likely to experience it than women. And so the money provided by male-dominated governments for legal assistance and women’s shelters has been woefully inadequate.

It’s probably fair to say that if not for the tireless efforts of family violence campaigner Rosie Batty, who faced an unbearable tragedy when her son was killed by his father, we might not have even had the promises made this election of additional funding to support affected women and children.

Another example is the fact that the grand Parliament House building in Canberra, which houses up to 4000 MPs, staff and journalists at any one time, did not have a childcare centre until some female MPs started to have babies and wanted to have their small children nearby. And so the staff bar was converted into a childcare centre in 2008, nearly 20 years after the building was officially opened.

So what are the political parties doing to increase the number of women in parliament?

Malcolm Turnbull declared after he became Prime Minister that no-one was more enthusiastic than him about “seeing more women in positions of power and influence in parliament” and in the ministry. He delivered on that promise by making six women senior ministers, compared to only one appointed by Tony Abbott.

That was an important step by the PM, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that his government’s Liberal and National parties have a disappointingly low number of female MPs, and that this number is likely to get worse after the election.

At least three of the Coalition women who are retiring this year will be replaced by a man, whichever of the major parties win the seat.

One of those women, Sharman Stone, has called for her party to have a quota that would ensure 50 per cent of all Liberal candidates in winnable seats were women. This would increase the number of Liberal women being elected.

So far, Dr Stone’s suggestion has been pooh-poohed by the men in her party, who say that a target of 50 per cent is good enough. The difference between a quota and a target is that a quota can be enforced, while a target is something that would be nice to have.

In contrast, the Labor Party has done much better in getting women elected to parliament, having met its quota of 40 per cent female MPs in the current parliament.

Labor has set a new quota of 50 per cent female MPs by 2025, but it is difficult to accept why the party needs 10 years to raise the number of women in its ranks by from 40 to 50 per cent.

Perhaps this is because many of the unions that have a large say in who is chosen by Labor to run for parliament also have overwhelmingly male union members and are run by men.

That would explain why a number of talented young Labor women were replaced by male union member candidates for this election.

As we have noted before, there may not be enough women in parliament, but that does not mean that women’s voices cannot be heard.

Pay your local MP a visit in the lead up to the election, or give them a call. Ask them what they’re going to do for Australian women if they get your vote. And if they don’t give a satisfactory answer, make contact with their opponent and ask the same question. Your vote counts, so make sure you use it.

Originally at The Australian Women’s Weekly.

What Shorten’s election promises mean for women

What Shorten’s election promises mean for women

In comparison to the Turnbull Government’s focus on the economy this election, the Shorten Opposition’s pitch to women is about fairness and “putting people first”.

This is partly because the Labor Party traditionally believes government funding for the services people depend upon, like health and education, is just as important as having a strong economy.

But Labor also hopes that, when it talks about fairness, voters will be reminded of the unfair budget that Tony Abbott delivered in 2014.

That was the budget where Abbott broke a pile of election promises and then increased costs or reduced payments for students, the elderly, the unemployed and the sick, while doing very little to make the wealthy pay their fair share.

When Labor leader Bill Shorten and his team talk about fairness, they want voters to be worried that if Malcolm Turnbull is re-elected, he might also break his election promises and turn out to be just like Tony Abbott.

Apart from trying to scare voters away from the Government, the Opposition is also trying to lure them to Labor. According to one opinion poll, Labor has been very successful in getting men to switch their vote from the Government to the Opposition. But when women are abandoning Turnbull’s team, they are going to the Greens and other parties as well as Labor.

What’s more, three in ten Australian women haven’t yet decided which party they prefer.

This means Labor has to capture the hearts and minds of a lot more women if it is to win the July election.

So what does the alternative government have to offer us?

For women with families, Labor has promised to deliver increases in funding for education and health promised by Julia Gillard when she was prime minister.

In fact, education is the central theme of Labor’s election pitch. It’s an expensive commitment that aims to fund every school according to the needs of its students.

Labor has also promised that computer programming will be taught in all schools, teachers will get better qualifications in science, technology, engineering and maths, and there will be additional support for Indigenous students and students with disabilities.

There’s also program to help young people in areas with high unemployment get into work.

In health, Labor has committed to lift the freeze on Medicare rebates that doctors say is putting pressure on them to give up bulk billing, scrap a plan to increase prescriptions by $5, improve the system for helping people with mental health issues, and fund local initiatives aimed at reducing suicides.

When it comes to Australia’s working women, Labor’s election commitments focus on those at the lower end of the pay scale. The Opposition promises to crack down on employers who exploit workers, as well as those who re-arrange their businesses to avoid paying out employees when a business shuts down.

Under Labor, new mothers can receive paid parental leave from their employer in addition to payments from the Government.

Labor also has additional funding for women experiencing family violence, including more funds for legal services, grants to help women be safer at home, and better information sharing between the police, courts, child protection and other government agencies. It has also committed to introducing five days’ paid leave for people who experience domestic or family violence.

If this sounds like a lot of spending, it is. The Opposition says it will pay for its promises by making big business and high-income earners pay more tax, scrapping negative gearing for established homes, and not going ahead with some of the Government’s election commitments such as the company tax cut.

But at the end of the day, Labor says some types of spending, like health and education, are more important than balancing the budget.

It will be in the hands of female voters on election day to say whether Labor is right.

Originally at The Australian Women’s Weekly.

What Turnbull’s election promises mean for women

What Turnbull’s election promises mean for women

It’s still early days in the federal election campaign, but even now one thing is clear: the Turnbull Government is convinced the best thing it can do for Australian women is deliver a strong economy.

Malcolm Turnbull and his team are relying on what voters tell opinion pollsters are most important to us. Jobs and the cost of living are always high on the list. And we want to know the economy is being managed by a government that knows what it’s doing.

The Coalition’s pitch to Australian women this election is that the current government is better at running the economy than the other mob.

Even if you haven’t paid much attention to the campaign, you may be aware the Coalition has a “plan for jobs and growth”. That’s because government MPs can’t stop talking about the plan every time they see a camera or a microphone.

Constant talk of a plan is meant to make you feel confident the PM Malcolm Turnbull and his Treasurer Scott Morrison have everything under control.

There are a lot of parts to this fabulous plan, but the biggest and most expensive element is tax cuts for business. The Government plans to give smaller businesses a tax cut right away, and then give it to bigger and bigger business over the following ten years.

The Government hopes business owners will invest the extra money to expand their businesses (that’s the “growth” part of “jobs and growth”) and take on additional staff (that’s the “jobs” part).

All Australians are expected to benefit as businesses supposedly flourish and pour dollars back into the economy. Not everyone is convinced, however, that this will actually happen.

Aside from trying to deliver a strong economy, the Coalition has a number of other election promises that it says will benefit women.

For women with children, there are improvements to childcare subsidies, but these won’t kick in until July 2018. The Government also plans to restrict new mothers to accessing only one form of paid parental leave, either the government’s or their employer’s.

There’s a job training program for young people to prepare them for employment, which includes temporary placement in a real workplace.

There’s also increased funding for health and education, but not to the same levels being promised by the Labor opposition.

The Government has however promised a new scheme that will give young adults with cancer, who were previously considered either too old or too young to participate in clinical trials, the opportunity to also access the latest cancer-fighting treatments.

There’s money to subsidise a glucose monitoring device for children and young adults with severe Type 1 diabetes, and to extend the free government dental scheme to all children and young adults.

On women’s health, the Government has offered modest increases to funding for Medicare to cover the use of MRIs to detect certain types of breast cancer, for an online tool to help women with perinatal depression, and to treat Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

On domestic violence, there’s a Women’s Safety Package that includes an advertising campaign, GPS trackers and an expansion of the national family violence counselling and information service. But the Coalition has not committed to restoring the funding to legal centres and services that were cut by the Abbott Government.

For working women, the Government has promised to strengthen laws that punish employers for underpaying and exploiting workers, and provide a small tax cut to people fortunate enough to earn over $80,000.

The Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, has also promised to release a “comprehensive policy” to boost women’s workforce participation during the election campaign.

There are some good changes to superannuation proposed by the Government, such as providing around two million women on low incomes with a refund of the higher taxes they pay on some super contributions.

Women with less than $500,000 in super would also be able to make “catch-up” contributions and high-income spouses would be allowed to put more funds into their low-income spouse’s super.

These are the main elements of the Coalition’s election pitch to women so far. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to campaign promises. We know politicians tend to give with one hand just as they take away with the other.

So it is wise to expect that for every promise from the Coalition of a new scheme or increased funding, something else will be scrapped or cut to pay for it. The trick is to get the balance right.

In preparation for election day, which falls on July 2, it’s worth checking to see if you are on the electoral roll and your details are correct. If you’re not yet registered to vote, you can enrol online at the Australian Electoral Commission.

Originally at The Australian Women’s Weekly.

He who wins women, wins the election

He who wins women, wins the election

Back in the nineteenth century, Australia led the way in giving women the right to vote and stand for parliament.

Yet here we are 114 years later and still only around 30 per cent of politicians in Australia’s parliaments are women.

Political parties say they’re doing everything they can to get to 50-50, but so far only Labor and the Greens have managed to get close. Labor has 45 per cent women MPs in the national parliament, while the Greens have 45.5 per cent. The Coalition parties have 27 per cent, and may have even less following the upcoming election.

This is not just a matter of balancing things up for appearances sake.

Without enough female voices in the nation’s decision-making forums, there is an increased chance that governments will make poor or bad decisions that have a negative impact on women.

That’s because it’s easier for a bunch of men on comfy incomes to cut funding for frontline domestic violence support, women’s health services or child care without thinking through the implications for women, families, the economy or the broader community.

In the absence of there being enough female politicians to stand up against their male-centric colleagues, it’s up to female voters to remind politicians what our half of the population wants from elected representatives when it comes to identifying priorities and allocating government funds.

The power of women voters cannot, and should not, be underestimated. Hell hath no fury like a female voter scorned.

Some politicians are alert to this, and while some have tried to pitch themselves as the supporter of women’s interests, many have failed.

Who could forget Tony Abbott trying to neutralise his “women’s problem” with an expensive, badly-targeted and poorly defended paid parental leave scheme.

And then there was Julia Gillard who, on the same day that she delivered her blistering speech about Abbott’s misogyny, also cut payments to single mothers when their youngest child turns eight.

So it’s hardly surprising a major opinion poll found more women supported Labor after Kevin Rudd replaced Julia Gillard in 2013 federal election, even if he did eventually lose to Tony Abbott.

Opinion polls are now showing the Government first led by Abbott and now Turnbull has lost its lead on the Opposition, with at least one poll suggesting this is because women have shifted their votes from the Coalition to Labor.

This may be in part because of decisions in the federal budget, which we highlighted last week as pretty unsatisfactory for women. But female voters have also gone off the Prime Minister, who failed to deliver on the high voter expectations he encouraged before challenging Tony Abbott for the top job.

Back then, 68 per cent of men and women approved of Turnbull, now that has dropped to 46 per cent for women and 49 per cent for men. The PM’s disapproval rating has increased accordingly.

Even so, despite their disillusionment with PM Turnbull, male voters seem to be sticking with the Government.

Accordingly, the outcome of the federal election rests in the hands of Australian women.

That’s why we’ll be providing you with analysis of the parties’ election policies, in light of their track records to date, and an assessment of what each party has to offer Australian women.

In preparation for election day, which falls on July 2, it’s worth checking to see if you are on the electoral roll and your details are correct. If you’re not yet registered to vote, you can enrol online at the Australian Electoral Commission.

Originally published at the Australian Women’s Weekly.

Does Turnbull actually get what women really want?

Does Turnbull actually get what women really want?

It’s easy to forget that just over a week ago Treasurer Scott Morrison handed down his first budget. Not long after, the Prime Minister fired the starters’ gun on the July election, so there wasn’t much time to check in detail what the budget offered Australian women or whether it treated you fairly.

The Opposition’s shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen, laid out Labor’s plans for the budget in Canberra yesterday, giving us a fresh opportunity to look at what the major parties think about Australian women.

It’s clear the Turnbull Government still doesn’t get it when it comes to treating women equally or fairly.

Financial security is a big issue for women: not only do you earn less but you have fewer dollars to put into in your superannuation account. Last week’s budget was meant to encourage women back to work by providing better childcare and improving superannuation.

The Government claimed the budget would “help” women build up a better retirement nest egg by extending a scheme that it initially tried – and failed – to scrap. The scheme, originally created by Labor when it was in government, will provide around two million women on low incomes with a refund of the higher taxes they pay on some super contributions.

That’s not “help” but fixing a distortion in the superannuation system.

Good news for super:

  • Allowing workers to put more funds into their spouse’s super
  • Letting women with less than $500,000 in super make “catch-up” contributions

However these changes won’t help if you don’t have a spouse or can’t afford to put extra super payments away.

There was no good news either in the budget for those of you with children, or planning to start a family.

Bad news for mothers and women hoping to start families:

  • The Turnbull Government stuck to the Abbott Government’s decision to stop new mothers from topping up base level, taxpayer-funded parental leave with payments from their employer. There will be no “double-dipping” under a government that Malcolm Turnbull leads.
  • There was also zip in the budget for childcare; in fact the Government postponed improvements to childcare subsidies that were promised in last year’s budget. Now the increases won’t apply until July 2018. This is because the Government plans to cut other parenting payments and family tax benefits to help pay for the changes. It blames Labor for the postponement of the subsidy increase because the Opposition won’t support these other cuts.

What about funding to combat domestic violence? Surely the Turnbull Government put its money where its mouth was on this critical national issue?

Well not exactly.

Bad news for violence against women and children:

  • The Government’s Women’s Safety Package provided $100 million for an advertising campaign, GPS trackers and an expansion of the national family violence counselling and information service. But it did not restore funding to legal centres and services cut by the Abbott Government.

Bad news for tax cuts:

  • Only one in five women will earn enough to get the cut, while one in three men will benefit. Women with families but who earn less than $80,000 will get no tax cut and no childcare relief for another two years.

Single women on low incomes will still have little or no superannuation. And if any woman is experiencing domestic violence, there is a good chance she won’t be able to find legal support or another place to stay because of cuts made by the Abbott Government that have not been reversed by Malcolm Turnbull.

In contrast, the Labor Opposition has more women-friendly policies, but is yet to fully spell out how it will pay for them.

Good news for mothers and women hoping to start families:

  • Labor is opposed to the Government’s proposed cuts to family tax benefits
  • Labor supports new mothers getting parental leave payments from both the government and their employer

Good news for violence against women and children:

  • Labor has promised $70 million to combat domestic violence, including $50 million for frontline legal services.

Good news for women at work

  • Through its industrial arm, the union movement, Labor is also focused on getting better pay and conditions for working women.

The Prime Minister said on International Women’s Day earlier this year that gender equality was an economic and social priority for Australia, noting that when a woman is empowered, the whole economy and community benefits.

Mr Turnbull challenged his audience to do “all we can” to ensure women get the same economic and social opportunities as men, are respected, have a strong voice, are financially and economically secure, and are safe from violence.

The Turnbull Government’s first budget did not live up to this challenge. However it still has around eight weeks left during the election campaign to convince Australia’s women that it can do so.

Originally published at The Australian Women’s Weekly.

‘Left-splaining’ to Bishop misses the point

Australian fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar has reportedly awarded Foreign Minister Julie Bishop the title “Woman of the Year”. In doing so, the fashionista’s bible has kicked the barely contained hornets’ nest that is the feminist movement’s need for the label to be embraced by all women.

Excerpts of the magazine’s interview with Bishop, released to publicise the edition before it arrives in newsstands and on iPads, emphasise the Cabinet minister’s refusal (again) to describe herself as a feminist.

“Stop whingeing, get on with it and prove them all wrong,” Bishop is quoted as saying. In what has already been latched upon as criticism of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Bishop is also said to exhort: “Please do not let it get to you and do not become a victim, because it’s only a downward spiral once you’ve cast yourself as a victim.”

Such advice will likely kick off another round of condemnatory opinion pieces from the stable of fine Australian female writers who are proud to call themselves feminists. Just as they did after Bishop made similar statements to the National Press Club last month, feminists will imply Bishop’s rejection of the label equates with rejection of the movement and refusal to recognise what it has achieved.

The problem with these analyses is that none of the writers can possibly know what a “woman of the right” thinks about feminism. This is because self-proclaimed feminists almost universally have a progressive point of view and have little understanding (or acceptance) of how conservative or other right-of-centre values may influence the thinking of other women.

Just as a man trying to explain feminism is often dismissed as “mansplaining” because of the clear disconnect between the perspectives of men from women, it’s time we started calling out “left-splaining” when it comes to progressives telling us what women of the right think about feminism and the advancement of women.

Bishop’s comments about “getting on with it” and “proving them wrong” is grounded very much in the individualism that is part of the Liberals’ ethos: the power of the individual, the merit of hard work in the pursuit of excellence, and the right of those who’ve worked hard to enjoy the profits of their endeavours. This philosophy emphasises every individual’s responsibility to do the very best we can, and if we fail it’s not society’s fault but due to our own limitations – be they in capability or effort.

Bishop’s acceptance of this individual responsibility was evident in her comments to the National Press Club:

For me I refuse to acknowledge [the glass ceiling]. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. But the approach I’ve taken is that if I want something I’ll work hard and set my mind to it and if it comes off that’s great. If it doesn’t I’m not going to blame the fact I’m a woman. I’m not going to look at life through the prism of gender.

The extension of this philosophy is the refusal to use gender as an excuse for one’s lack of success or failure, or to become a “victim” of one’s gender.

Accordingly, Bishop accused Gillard at the National Press Club of “turning herself into a victim” rather than accepting that “she was judged by her competence and that’s where she was found wanting”.

It could be a mistake however to jump to the conclusion that a similar quote provided by Harper’s Bazaar is Bishop having another go at Gillard. In saying “Please do not let it get to you and do not become a victim, because it’s only a downward spiral once you’ve cast yourself as a victim,” Bishop could well have been exhorting women generally not to hobble themselves by accepting they’re handicapped by gender.

The flaw in this logic of course is that no matter how hard women strive, no matter how smart or what levels of excellence they achieve, there are still societal barriers preventing many women from achieving equity in pay or recognition let alone the levels of success envisioned by Bishop.

This is the nub of the disagreement between women of the left and women of the right over what should be done to progress the advancement of women. In the most basic terms, women of the left see the need for society to be changed, whereas women of the right see it as a matter of individual endeavour.

And without left and the right recognising and finding ways to accommodate these different perspectives, real progress will never be sustained.

It’s all very well in these days of fractured political philosophies and the rise of the anti-politician to say that left and right are no longer useful ways of grouping what people think. But when it comes to discussion of feminism, these labels are still a useful guide to the differences of opinion.

Women of the right are just as committed to the advancement of women as their sisters on the left. Women of the right are mothers too, and they want to see their daughters have prosperous and fulfilling lives. These women don’t reject the principles of feminism – equality and the advancement of women – but they see them being achieved in different ways. If that view is flawed, yelling at them to take on the feminist mantle will not correct it.

Perhaps the actual underlying concern for feminists is not that women of the right won’t accept the feminist label, but that they are disinclined to recognise the role of the feminist cause in what has been achieved so far. The union movement would be similarly disappointed in the lack of acknowledgement that it gets for having delivered improvements in pay and workplace conditions over the decades.

If that is indeed the root cause of the call for women of the right to embrace the label, then the feminist movement has lost its way.

Surely the advancement of women is an important enough issue for the need for accolades to be set aside. The only way forward is for women of the left to find a way to bring women of the right into the fold to work together on ending discrimination against women.

Some of those women will be the CEOs, board directors, and MPs of tomorrow. Only with their acceptance of the real need to address gender inequality, and knowledge of how to do it, will the task ever be complete.