Guest Post by Scarlet Harris, TUC Women’s Equality Officer
On the 20th October, hundreds of thousands of people will be marching through London calling for a “future that works”. After two years of rising unemployment, savage cuts to public services, attempts to unpick our employment rights, attacks on the bodies created to safeguard and promote equality, and the dismantling of the NHS and the welfare system, the future looks decidedly bleak.
Let’s not forget that this is just the tip of the austerity iceberg.
In case you’re in any doubt that this is a feminist issue, consider the following facts:
- Women’s unemployment is at its highest level in 25 years (1.12m).
- On an average day in 2011, Women’s Aid had to turn away 230 women due to a lack of space.
- In 2010, the Women’s National Commission was abolished by the Coalition government.
- An analysis of the June 2010 budget by the House of Commons Library found that that women will pay for roughly 72 per cent of the net cost of the changes in taxes, benefits and tax credits set out in the budget.
- Under government proposals, a woman who has been discriminated against at work will have to pay over £1000 to take her case to a tribunal.
- 281 Sure Start centres have been axed since the election.
- Many maternity units are being closed and midwife numbers are being squeezed.
- Research commissioned by the TUC showed that as a result of cuts introduced in the 2010 spending review, single mums would lose 18.5% of their net income and single women pensioners would lose 11.7%of their net income.
- In 2010, the drop in the number of women employed by all councils in England and Wales accounted for 66.4% of the total drop in employment in councils.
- In 2011, there were 19 councils where the drop in the number of women employed accounted for 100% of the total drop in the numbers employed in those councils.
Some of the cuts which have a clear impact on women include the abolition of the Health in Pregnancy Grant, a three-year freeze in the value of Child Benefit, in addition to the withdrawal of Child Benefit from women living in a household where one adult is a higher rate taxpayer, the abolition of the Baby Element of Tax Credits, a reversal of previous Government’s commitment to introduce a Toddler Tax Credit, a cut in the proportion of childcare costs that are covered for families eligible for Working Tax Credit, from 80% to 70% of costs, a three-year freeze in the value of Working Tax Credit, significant cuts to Housing Benefit, and a cap on the total amount of out of work benefit that a family will be entitled to, which will mean that large families experience greater losses.
This is just the beginning. The government has signalled that it will slash another £10 billion from the welfare budget.
Decent jobs for decent pay are a feminist issue. Affordable childcare is a feminist issue. Women’s pensions are a feminist issue. Protection from discrimination is a feminist issue. Equal pay is a feminist issue. Properly funded VAWG services are a feminist issue.
Join the March for a Future that Works and make your voice heard. Sign the pledge and tell your friends why you’re marching. Add the twibbon to your Twitter or Facebook profile. Join the event on Facebook. Most importantly, be there. Bring your kids, bring your friends, bring your mum, bring your colleagues, bring a homemade banner, bring your marching boots.
For more information about the route, accessibility, transport and other logistics, check the website.