‘Women’s rights tend to be at best on the margins, and actually we are over 50% of the population. It’s not just gender blind. I’d say it’s actually gender regressive’ (Ceri Goddard, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society)
Many will remember the above quotation taken from a statement that was made last year by Ceri Goddard, who was the Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society. The statement was made at a time when the society were preparing to take legal action to get governmental recognition that the budget was unlawful and served as a threat to women’s rights (see our previous article on this – Made in Dagenham: Made for Feminist Discussion in Schools?).
Despite the unsuccessful ruling on this case the Fawcett Society have remained undeterred and continue to wage a fierce battle for women’s equality in relation to employment rights. In recent weeks they have launched a campaign which builds on the statement made by Goddard last year: ‘Don’t turn back time on women’s equality’. The report on the campaign begins with this very brief statement:
‘On average, women earn less, own less, and are more likely to work and retire in poverty than men.’
But moves on to outline a number of reasons why the current government’s approach to cutting the deficit will widen the gap between men and women:
- Female unemployment is rising as jobs are cut in public service
- The benefits and services women rely on more are being slashed
- Women on low incomes are becoming poorer
- The pay gap looks set to widen
- Women’s access to vital support services is being undermined
- Increasing numbers of women are being forced to give up work as cuts to childcare support means their jobs no longer cover the family’s care costs
And so on Saturday 19th November 2011 the Fawcett Society are asking people to join their march through London to send the clear message that ‘women do not want to be catapulted back to the levels of inequality of yesteryear’. To make the message about regression abundantly clear they are asking marchers to join them in 1950’s dress. The march will begin at 12 noon at Temple tube, Victoria Embankment. Further details can be found on the Fawcett Society’s website, Twitter and Facebook.
The Fawcett Society recognise that not everyone will be able to join them in London for the march so they are also urging others from around the country to host a ‘don’t turn back time tea party’ in order to raise awareness and generate media coverage in other areas. Template invitations, tea party campaign packs and a promotion video can also be downloaded from their website.
Dr Alexandra Allan, University of Exeter