Yesterday I appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour talking about the first Gender Equality Index to be published for the European Union. I was joined by Marina Yannakoudakis for a very interesting discussion about this important document. You can listen to our segment by using the media player below.
Last week was of course International Women’s day, the theme was equal pay. I spent a lot of time covering the subject and also the issue of introducing mandatory quotas for women on boards.
The day was not restricted to this debate only, so the Guardian asked some influential women what they considered to be their priorities for women and what they were going to fight for on the day. Woman’s Hour presenter Jenni Murray said affordable child care was paramount while author Katy Lette questioned marriage and suggested that, at times, it can resemble slave labour.
You can read their reasoning’s here.
It’s a pity we still consider there is much to fight for in 2012, but there is and we must not lose sight of this and continue to improve opportunities for the generations of women to follow us.
I came across a powerful blog last week, in which I learnt a total of 1000 women die each day somewhere in the world due to preventable complication in pregnancy or childbirth.
The World Bank boasts it’s a ‘global leader’ in reproductive health but fails to mentions that it has committed little more than 0.2% of its $43bn for the financial year (2011).
The Guardian blog reports that almost half of its reproductive health projects in Sub-Saharan Africa are funded by loans. The loans will obviously have an adverse effect on countries already suffering all sorts of problems, many of which are already in debt and will likely discourage administrations from further investment. Those who will suffer the most? The answer is women, the poorest women to be precise.
Spending cuts like these are devastating to poor women who, as the report states, ‘suffer directly from reduced access to healthcare but are responsible for the health of their households.’
Writing a blog for the Guardian, Elizabeth Arend, programme coordinator at Gender Action, called on The World Bank to re-evaluate its strategies for reducing maternal mortality if it is ever going to live up to its claim of being a ‘global leader’ in improving reproductive health.
She also calls for The Bank to ‘increase the number of grants it provides to expand access to reproductive and maternal healthcare — including post-abortion care — and eliminate any fees attached to these vital services.’ Certainly if The Bank would like to hold onto its title of a world leader in this area then it really must show the world how well it’s leading us. You can read the full article here.
Having worked in and run charities for many years, I was concerned, but not surprised to learn more about the true impact of brutal Tory cuts revealed in yesterday’s Sunday Mirror. Vincent Moss’ excellent article found how charities lose billions, £5.5bn, this year alone, and it’s the poorest being hit the hardest.
The claim comes from a leaked report by charity bosses which says: “We estimate that cuts to the charity sector in the UK in 2011/12 will range from just under £1billion (£970 million) in the very best scenario, to just over £5.5billion in the very worst.”
The result is that much needed services provided by charities are being forced to close daily. I’m not entirely sure how Mr Cameron thinks the Big Society works, but relying on the good nature of people and charities to provide services without any budget is not practicable or sustainable in any way.
You can read Vincent Moss’ full analysis here.
I was on Woman’s Hour this morning talking about the decision by the Metropolitan Police to reorganise the Human Trafficking Unit. Instead of closing the Unit altogether and moving its functions into the Clubs and Vice section as we first feared, the Met has decided to approach the issue the other way round. Clubs and Vice in its entirety is now to be moved into Specialist Crime, which includes the Trafficking Unit. This change will take effect from April 2010, and an implementation team is to look at the best way of putting the decision into practice.
Although I am pleased the Metropolitan Police have taken some notice of my petition, I am still concerned about what the Met’s new proposal will mean in practice. I will be posting a link to the Women’s Hour piece in the next few days.
In the meantime, you should watch this short film made by Anti-Trafficking Alliance. The film, which is aimed at young men, shows the harsh realities of human trafficking. Just to warn you that it’s inevitably very harrowing in parts. Here’s the link.
The result in Glasgow North-East can only be interpreted as a massive endorsement for the Government – there is quite simply no other way of looking at it. Just in case you missed it, here is the actual result:
Labour – 12,231 votes (59.39%)
SNP – 4,120 votes (20%)
Tory – 1,075 votes (5.22%)
BNP – 1,013 votes (4.92%)
Solidarity – 794 votes (3.86%)
Lib Dems – 474 votes (2.30%)
Total votes cast – 20,595
Voter turnout – 32.97%
Although I didn’t manage to get to Glasgow, I did do a couple of stints at telephoning canvassing from London. It always looked as if we would do well, as indeed we have done.
There is, however, one downside – the turnout. Despite the well documented fact that turnouts in by-elections are notoriously low, 33 per cent is poor. I gather from BBC Women’s Hour today that the number of women participating was much lower than that for men.
This is deeply troubling. Our democracy requires engagement and women will only really make inroads in terms of improving their lives if they take part in the political process. I hope the Labour Party will now undertake a serious analysis as to why the turnout among women in Glasgow North-East was so low. We need some answers so that women in future are more encouraged to go out and vote.