From the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act to the Equality Act, Labour has a strong record on advancing women’s rights and freedoms. Almost every major piece of legislation that has improved the lives of working women has been introduced by a Labour Government.
While International Women’s Day is about recognising how far we have travelled in the fight for gender equality, we must also recognise how much further we have to go, both in the UK and internationally.
Sadly, many policies introduced by this government are turning back the clock on economic equality for women.
In 2016, women in the UK are more likely to work for less pay than men and be disproportionately affected by cuts to public services. As of the 2016 Autumn Statement, 86% of the net gains to the treasury through tax and benefit measures had come from women, with a disproportionate impact on women from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
In addition, Specialist domestic violence services for women are in crisis as a direct result of government cuts to local authorities; according to Women’s Aid, on one typical day 103 children and 155 women are turned away from refuges due to lack of space.
Despite this, the treasury have refused to send a minister to the Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee to answer questions on the impact of their polices on Women.
In the absence of any action from the Government, Labour will be consulting over the next 12 months a proposed Economic Equality Bill.