Labour Party, Women's Rights, work

If the Report just passed by the European Parliament Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee goes through the plenary session of the European Parliament, we will have achieved a massive amount.  

As it stands it’s a truly groundbreaking piece of legislation:

  • Maternity leave to be 20 weeks

  • At least 6 weeks to be taken after the birth

  • Additional maternity leave in specific situations, eg stillbirth and mothers with disabilities

  • Two weeks fully paid mandatory paternity/co-maternity leave

  • Protection against dismissal for parents up to six months after the birth

  • Maternity allowance to be average monthly salary and not less than 85% of last monthly salary 

  • Breaks at the workplace for breastfeeding

In an unprecedentd move, the Czechs, who currently hold the revolving EU Presidency, voiced concerns over these provisions at the meeting of the Women’s Rights Committee.  In particular, they objected to having 20 weeks maternity leave and the two weeks paternity/co-maternity leave.  No doubt there will be much to-ing and fro-ing when the Directive goes to Council. 



Employees, Employers, Gender, Guardian, work

Today I have had an article published on the Guardian website about the gender pay-gap which has stirred up a lot of controversy.

Many commentators say that the feminist fight has been won and that sexism in the work place no longer exists but reading some of the comments I have received it is very obvious that this is not the case.

Here are some of the responses to my article, which have frankly shocked me:

“Why should employers have to pick up the tab for a woman’s fertility? You want to be an executive? Fine. You want to be a mother? That’s fine, too. But anyone with a functioning brain cell knows that there are major conflicts between devotion to a demanding career and diligent motherhood. “

“When women read as much as men, they’ll be ready for equality.”

“Women in every culture I’ve every visited have been bitchy and into how they look. It is obviously part of your programming the same way boys like playing soldier etc. The insistance that its all a biog conspiracy just shows how outdated you are.”

“Most working-class women I know would rather serve tea to old folks or look after toddlers in a nursery while your old man goes out and earns the lion’s share of the family income.”

“in my experience the women who try the hardest to get to the top do pretty much anything they can to stop other women from joining them.”

“it’s easier to go on about these splendid bright women who just want to have babies and come back to work and are stopped by men. No, they’re not. They’re stopped by their own desire for status, greed and a belief in self-entitlement.”

“Frankly any girl who would rather be Jacqui Smith than Coleen Mcloughlin needs to be hunted down and locked up as a danger to herself and the rest of us.”

“If I were an employer, I would want to be sure that any prospective employee was going to be able to satisfy my expectations and devote the time that I’m paying them for to doing my bidding and at my convenience. So I wouldn’t employ a woman of childbearing age in this day-and-age either unless I was satisfied that her fertility wasn’t going to get in the way of my business.”

It is perfectly obvious that this is fight that is not even close to being won.

I will be thinking hard about the comments I’ve received today, from all sides of the argument, and will be writing about this again in the very near future.