It was quite a week in which to highlight women’s rights or rather the lack of it.
The week didn’t begin well with some startling comments from Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke and then we heard the news that the number of women claiming out-of-work benefits has hit its highest level since 1996, with public sector job cuts starting to bite last month.
Not only that but the government is making life even more difficult for single mothers whose children are aged seven or above in an ill thought out attempt to encourage single mothers into the workforce.
Instead of positively encouraging mothers to get back into the workplace its policy pushed the figures of the number of women claiming jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) up, as they are stripped of income support once their children turn seven.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that 474,000 women were receiving JSA in April.
According to the broad International Labour Organisation measure, there was a rise of 12,400 in the more timely claimant count last month – with more than three-quarters of the increase among women.
It was the 10th consecutive month in which the number of women claiming out-of-work benefits had increased – although there are still more than twice as many men, 994,000, receiving JSA.
The Department for Work and Pensions said part of the rise resulted from rule changes that have seen single mothers shifted on to employment benefits to encourage them to look for a job. The full story is here.
Hundreds of women marched on Parliament to demonstrate against the government’s decision to raise the state pension age to 66 six years earlier than planned.
The protestors converged to demand the government altered its plans to raise the state pension age for women to 66 six years earlier than previously planned.
The event was organised by Age UK who are concerned at the rushed nature of the proposals which will not give women enough time to plan and therefore will plunge scores into poverty, it claims.
Many of the women affected are either carers or in poor health, meaning that working for longer is not an option, Age UK says. It hopes the protest will increase pressure on MPs to vote against the state pension increase. Details of the campaign can be found on Age UKs website here.