Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

A study by the Equality Trust think tank this week showed the impact of the ever-growing divide between rich and poor. The report suggested inequality costs our economy in the region of £39 billion a year, thanks to the social consequences of mental illness, crime, and poor life expectancy brought about by the income gap. The trust’s Executive Director, Duncan Exley, referred to the UK’s wealth inequality as a “chasm” and suggested the effect it has is to make people feel undervalued and unmotivated.

For those on the political right who see growing inequality as an economic driver – increasing ‘competitiveness’ and encouraging those at the bottom of society to ‘strive’ for more – the Equality Trust’s study presents a clear rebuff. As an MEP for London, a city which is, more than any other place in the UK, comprised of haves and have-nots, I believe this is an issue that needs far more attention. Addressing it would not require some kind of Marxist tonic but, as Exely points out, would merely a shift to the more inclusive and sustainable types of growth seen in other EU and OECD countries.

The start of the week, meanwhile, saw new figures released which suggest conviction rates for domestic violence remain terrifyingly low. House of Commons research found that only one in sixteen reports of domestic violence result in a conviction. Although reports have actually increased convictions have fallen during the same period – a worrying sign for women everywhere.

The figures come on the back of a study last week by Europe’s Fundamental Rights Agency, which found that the UK fared much worse than many other EU counties for levels of abuse. Austerity has certainly not helped victims of domestic violence, but a more fundamental change in our culture is required too, so that reports are taken seriously and young people – including young males – are taught from a young age about the issue. To break the cycles which perpetuate domestic abuse we need much more decisive interventions.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

This week, 8 March, marks International Women’s Day. It’s a day which has been observed since the early 1900s. And in 2013 we still have very many measures which we must continue to fight for, not just equality in the workplace but basic rights such as the right to an education for girls.

Equal pay for equal work is one of those things, last week we observed European Equal Pay Day, where research found that there is still a 16.2% gender pay gap between men and women’s earnings across Europe.

The day was marked on the 28 February, or the 59th day of the year – the number of extra days women have to work to match the amount earned by men.

As, Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner pointed out: “The principle of equal pay for equal work is written in the EU Treaties since 1957. It is high time that it is put in practice everywhere.

“Let us work together to deliver results not only on Equal Pay Days, but on all 365 days a year,” she said.

The day reminds us that for many women unequal pay and conditions exist for women and Reding suggests that while the pay gap has declined, this is due to a decline in mens earnings rather than an increase for women.

Of all the member states the UK had the eighth biggest gap at 19.5%. The biggest was Estonia at almost 28% and the lowest gap was found in Slovenia at 0.9%

You can find out more information by visiting the Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:  http://ec.europa.eu/reding and the European Commission – Gender pay gap: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/gender-pay-gap/index_en.htm

And a report on the story is available here.

Also to coincide with international Women’s Day, is a project by Hollywood A lister’s, including Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto who have all come together to tell the stories of nine unknown girls who struggle to get an education- something which should be a universal right.

The four actresses have been joined by Selena Gomez, Priyanka Chopra, Chloë Moretz, Salma Hayek, Kerry Washington and Alicia Keys who have given time to make a documentary about the problem called Girl Rising, which has its premiere in New York on Thursday.

Vanessa Thorpe of the Observer says, the film, made by documentary director Richard E Robbins, “began as an investigation into a fact universally acknowledged by international aid workers: that educating girls in developing countries is the quickest and most enduring way to improve conditions not just for them but for whole communities.” You can read her report in full here.

While education is a universal right, it shouldn’t be taken for granted. I hope this film has the desired impact and improves educational opportunities for girls across the globe.

Closer to home there was a by election, in Eastleigh, few of  us could have missed this. It came as a surprise to many that UKIP polled so well receiving 27.8% of the vote. This is something all parties must be mindful of. You can read Toby Helm’s review of the by election here.

PAY GAP STATISTICS

Equal Rights, Tribune

Recently I wrote an article in Tribune on the persistence of the gender pay gap. I worked with the Office of National Statistics to produce data on the gender pay gap in the London boroughs.

You can find this data here:

http://www.maryhoneyball.net/pay-gap-work-areas.xls
http://www.maryhoneyball.net/pay-gap-home-areas.xls

The first table shows the pay gap in a place of work, the second shows the pay gap in the place of residence.

I hope that this data will be useful in continuing the campaign for equal pay for women and men.

SEXISM IN THE WORKPLACE: STILL A MAJOR ISSUE

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.

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/mary_honeyball/2008/04/its_up_to_us.html

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.