December 8, 2010 § Leave a comment
This comes in a worrying time for women in the UK. Not only are the budgetary cuts predicted to hit women much harder than men, but this week the Fawcett Society also lost its attempt to challenge the Budget in court for discriminating unfairly against women (see my earlier posts on this).
This is despite Karon Monaghan QC, the Fawcett Society’s barrister, saying in court yesterday taht spending cuts were having a ‘grossly disproportionate and devastating’ impact on women. Of the £8.1bn in savings identified in the Budget, £5.7bn or 72%, were being borne by women, compared to 28% by men, she said.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission will now carry out a separate assessment of the equality impacts of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
So in the light of this it’s good to hear that the pay gap in average salaries has fallen from 17% in 1997 to 10% in 2010.
It’s still 10% too much, of course, and pessimists will point out that 7% in 13 years is not a galloping change. If it continues at the same rate then it will be 2023 before the pay difference is down to only 3%. The Trade Union Congress has warned that the UK cuts are likely to set back this progress too on closing the pay gap.
But let’s mark this as an achievement for women in business, and celebrate the gradual roll of the ball in the right direction.
- Fawcett Society loses court challenge to legality of budget (guardian.co.uk)
- Judges to hear Budget challenge (bbc.co.uk)
- Women will work the rest of the year for free, say equal pay campaigners (telegraph.co.uk)
October 22, 2010 § Leave a comment
Just a quick note to follow up on my post on the spending cuts in Britain impacting most dramatically on women. The Fawcett Society and MP Yvette Cooper are taking the government to court in the country’s first ever legal action taken against a budget.
The move sends a clear and powerful message on a desperate situation – Cooper says she has calculated that women will burden 72% of the cuts. David Cameron’s government already has a very poor record on women – there are only four women in a 23-strong cabinet – compare this to Spain where women make up 53% of the cabinet, Sweden where women form 50% and 38% in Germany, according to the Centre for Women and Democracy. In a further example of a very narrowly foccused cabinet, Lady Warsi is the only ethnic minority cabinet member and 69% of the Cabinet went to Oxbridge universities.
It is shaming that a nation which portrays itself as a centre of opportunity, fairness and diversity can put forward such a poorly representative government, and such a unfairly biased budget.
It will be interesting to see how far this legal action goes to makes the government rethink their policies – although as Chancellor George Osborne admitted yesterday to the BBC, they “don’t have a Plan B”.
October 20, 2010 § Leave a comment
As a journalist based in London, today has been entirely dominated by covering the Comprehensive Spending Review outlined by the Chancellor George Osborne. In a day packed with interviewing, gathering responses, and analysing, the most striking statement by a long way came from the Fawcett Society. The campaign group has pointed out in its response to Osborne’s announcement that women are already in the worst position in this age of austerity in Britain, which is facing a national deficit of £180bn this year. And today’s measures will further cement this trend.
The Fawcett Society has said that with 65% of public sector workers being women, they are the most exposed to the inevitable redundancies that must follow the announcements today. It also said women would be hit harder as they use the NHS more through maternity uses and childcare, and will struggle with the reduced benefits in social care, housing and child care. As a result of the “quango bonfire”, the Women’s National Commission has also been axed, a move which Fawcett says will make it even more unlikely that government will have access to balanced advice on specific women’s needs.
This is a dark day for many vulnerable groups in the UK, and for women most of all.