When it comes to economic equality in Australia, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned what was already a gendered gap between women and men into a gaping chasm.

Women have lost more jobs and working hours since March 2020 than men. The economic sectors primarily occupied by women are among the most poorly paid, the most casualised and the most vulnerable to the unique circumstances of the pandemic. Meanwhile, we’re more dependent than ever on women’s care-giving, both paid and unpaid.

This panel discussion, presented in partnership with THE WHEELER CENTRE, explored these intersectional issues and discussed how they impact the daily lives of women.

How have women been coping with the crisis? What have been the flow-on effects in terms of women’s housing security, women’s health and the health and education of children? How have women shown cooperation, creativity and resilience in their handling of the new reality? Who’s falling through the cracks? And could this difficult historical moment bring an opportunity to build a better, more equitable, economy?

Gabrielle Chan has been a journalist for more than 30 years. She began covering politics in the 1990s for The Australian at the NSW parliament and in the Canberra press gallery.

She has worked for Guardian Australia since 2013 in roles including political correspondent and Politics Live blogger. The city-born daughter of a Singaporean migrant, Gabrielle moved to a sheep and wheat farm in 1996 where she noticed the yawning gap between parliament and small town life. The result is Rusted Off: Why Country Australia is Fed Up, which was shortlisted for the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and the 2020 Walkley book prize. Gabrielle is currently working on her next book on food, farming and landscape.

Leanne Miller is a descendant of the Dhulanyagen Ulupna Clan, Yorta Yorta nation; she is the Executive Director of Koorie Women Mean Business. She is a senior Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity, Melbourne University, and an inaugural member of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, representing the North East Region.

Leanne has provided leadership support to governments and corporates on Indigenous workforce development and community engagement. She has an extensive advocacy background working in Indigenous, legal and women’s sectors, and has represented Australian Indigenous Women at the United Nations, New York, as well as undertaking UN Fellowships in New York and Geneva. She was selected as the community representative, Australian Government delegation to the 54th Session on the Commission on the Status of Women, United Nations, New York.

Angela Jackson started her career as an economist at Australia’s Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and has worked across tax, fiscal and social policy. As the then Finance Minister’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Angela worked on the Government’s response to the GFC and major reforms across the health, education and disability sectors.

As Lead Economist at Equity Economics, Angela has authored a number of major reports including Supporting Economic Recovery in NSW: Investment in Social and Affordable Housing is Critical to Supporting Jobs Today and Families into the Future (2020) and Gender Based Impacts of Covid-19 (2020).

Appearing regularly in the media Angela has written for the Conversation, the Age and the Australian.

Angela is also a non-executive Board Member and Finance Committee Chair of Royal Melbourne Hospital; a board member of GenVIc; a member of the Victorian National Heart Foundation Advisory Board; and Deputy Chair of the Women in Economics Network.

Angela holds a Masters in International Health Policy (Health Economics) with Distinction from the London School of Economics and Political Science, a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) from the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Tasmania. She submitted her PhD thesis on the Economics of Disability in September 2020.

Dr Rowan O’Hagan is an agricultural scientist and regional economist with extensive research, consulting and governance experience across health, utilities, higher education and agriculture. She holds a PhD in regional economics and her research and consulting interests include capacity building in primary industries, climate adaptation and governance. She is currently Research Development and Governance Officer at Northeast Health Wangaratta.

Rowan is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Deputy Chair of community energy retailer Indigo Power Ltd, and a director of Albury Wodonga Health.

Rowan has lived regionally most of her life, and is dedicated to equity and prosperity for regional Australians. She is active in the rural women’s, participatory democracy and sustainability movements, being a founding member of Australian Women in Agriculture, the Wangaratta Sustainability Network, the North East Regional Sustainability Alliance and Voices for Indi.