On 24 October hundreds of women and men from across the UK descended on Parliament to call on their MPs to take urgent action to push forward women’s equality. The issues in focus at the Lobby were:
- End violence against women and girls
- Strengthen democracy and improve the representation of women across society
- Promote equality in the economy, work and family
- Ensure equality in justice and rights for women
The Lobby Pack has more details on each of these actions.
End violence against women and girls
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is not inevitable and the UK Government has national and international obligations to prevent it from happening.
Watch our film with experts from the End Violence Against Women Coalition, Imkaan, Southall Black Sisters, Eaves, Object, Anti-Porn Men and leading academics giving insights into the factors that drive and perpetuate VAWG and saying what we need to do to end it.
You can read our briefing on ending VAWG here too with more info, facts and figures. It also presents a bank of research, evidence and policy that exists on ending VAWG that decision-makers can draw on to ensure that every woman and girl is safe and equal.
On 24 October, activists called on their MPs to take specific action:
- Right now, MPs can act to ensure every school plays their part in preventing violence against women and girls
This means all schools tackling VAWG throughout the curriculum and all school policies including sex education, Personal Social Health and Economic education, bullying and child protection policies.
Strengthen democracy and improve the representation of women across society
Equal representation of women across all spheres in society – in politics, work and in the media – is crucial to building a more equal society yet women’s voices still aren’t being heard equally
Watch our film that highlights why women’s voices are being silenced and how we get an equal say for women across society. It features interviews with inspirational campaigners from the Fawcett Society, Unlock Democracy, Centre for Women and Democracy, TUC and Object. You can read the accompanying briefing here.
The biased way women are represented in the media and popular culture is highly damaging to women’s equality.
- Right now, MPs have a real chance to take action to end the stereotyping, objectification and sexualisation of women in the media
MPs can support the recommendations made by Eaves, Equality Now, End Violence Against Women Coalition and Object during the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press, inlcuding creating a new, stronger body to replace the Press Complaints Commission.
Promote equality in the economy, work and family
We need to build an economy that works for women and for families and in which women and men are able to participate equally. Right now, work isn’t working for women.
- 70% of workers on the minimum wage are women
- The full-time gender pay gap is 14.9%, the part-time pay gap is 33%
- 30,000 women are sacked every year simply for being pregnant.
Find out why, and what we can do about it in this film ‘Shortchanged’ and our accompanying briefing. The film features interviews with Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC; Ruhana Ali from Citizens UK; Laura Dewar from Single Parent Action Network; Sarah Jackson OBE from Working Families; and Anand Shukla from Daycare Trust.
Childcare is central to women’s equality at work, their economic independence and their ability to gain equal power and representation in society at every level. Yet support for childcare is falling as the costs are rising, severely limiting many women’s employment opportunities, especially those on low incomes.
- Right now, MPs must take a stand on urgent investment in childcare for all
We need to reverse the cuts to support for childcare for low income families and to protect Sure Start Children’s Centres.
Ensure equality in justice and rights for women
Women face challenges in accessing justice and are denied their rights across many areas of society because of discrimination, prejudice and institutional systems that don’t account for women’s experiences.
Watch our film featuring experts from Rights of Women, Women In Prison, Women for Refugee Women and Abortion Rights giving snapshot insights into four areas where urgent action is needed to secure justice and rights for women in the UK.
Our accompanying briefing here outlines how the cuts to legal aid, the denial of abortion rights, and inequality and unfairness in our state institutions are all issues that violate women’s rights and diminish their access to justice. And it shows that the Government has obligations under national and international law to translate formal equality into reality for women. It’s time to hold our politicians to account.
- It is urgent that MPs work for justice for women seeking asylum in the UK
The UK is committed to giving asylum to those fleeing persecution and this includes gender based persecution. Women refugees seeking asylum in the UK deserve a fair process and politicians should show leadership in challenging the culture of disbelief in relation to women’s asylum cases in the UK Border Agency.
- Right now, we need our MPs to protect women’s reproductive rights and support an abortion law for the 21st century
Politicians need to be aware that taking women’s economic, educational and health concerns and equality seriously means accepting the central role of reproductive rights and this includes abortion. We’ll be calling on MPs to commit to speak out in support of the right to safe, legal abortion for all women and for reform of the 1967 Abortion Act to extend it to Northern Ireland.