Consider the impact of cuts on women, warns Lynne Featherstone

From the Guardian:

In an interview with the Guardian, Featherstone issued her reminder that any public sector job cuts or other deficit reduction plans that failed to consider equality rules would fall foul of the law.

Under the Equality Act 2010, a new equality duty was introduced in April dictating that any public body must have regard to the equality implications of its decisions.

She said: “The equality duty means that the public sector will have to look at who is losing jobs and how those jobs are being lost because there is a duty to do so with regard to the act itself.

“They must consider the impact of the cuts they are making and look to make sure that they are fair and that’s the point of the equality duty in anything you do. I remind colleagues endlessly.”

Labour has mounted a campaign highlighting the impact of the coalition’s spending reductions on women, arguing they are bearing the brunt of the cuts because women rely more heavily on the state for benefits and are more likely to work in the public sector.

Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, insisted the coalition’s record for women was better than Labour’s.

Explaining the fall in women’s support for both coalition parties, she said: “Maybe the harshness of the situation we find ourselves in, as a result of having the biggest deficit in peacetime, for some reason resonates with women.”

She added: “The coalition government is actually delivering an awful lot for women. There are some hard decisions we’ve had to take because the deficit is enormous.

“I’m sure no parent wants to visit that deficit on their children’s future. So it’s important before everything that we clear up the deficit.”

Read the full piece at the Guardian.

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  • Until it is acknowledged that ours is NOT “the largest deficit in peacetime”, and our leadership allowed themselves and our party to be conned into accepting and acting as if it were, we will neither make policy progress, nor progress in the polls or elections. Yes, of course, you are right, Lynne, job cuts (and probably benefit cuts) will affect women more than men, but the point is, it will affect certain strata of society more than others. Women and men do often live together in families, you know – and in communities too.

  • JustAnotherVoter 9th Jul '11 - 10:08am

    Not the largest UK fiscal deficit since WW2 – no deficit denial here, no sir.

    I don’t buy the equalities stuff. I’m sure you can find many places where Labour increased public spending in a way which gave a disproportionate benefit to women over men, and vice versa, merely because of demographics. e.g. if you increase benefits for the unemployed, statistically men will benefit more than women.

  • Peter Hardy 9th Jul '11 - 10:53am

    @JustAnotherVoter: what does that graph measure exactly, is it deficit, structural deficit or just debt? I don’t know anything about economics, but all the other graphs I’ve seen say that the state was much more in the red in the peacetimes following WW2 and some previous wars than it is now.

  • If teh cuts disproportionally impact on women then that must mean for at least the last decade the government has been unfaiarly favouring them in giving out jobs (which come wiht better pay than in the private sector).

    Why not investigation before the recession into this sexism? Why is Featherstone kicking any screaming about taking women’s special privileges away when the real crime was that such sexism was allowed in the first place.

    Simialrly if you wants cuts to things such a child benefit to hit women less well you solve that in a stroke by actually allowing it to be shared rahter than the current situation that pretends it belongs to the mother. and nto the child.

    Featherstone is a sexist, plain and simple.

  • Bob, I think you are being disingenuous. Or do you just not understand the situation?
    Yes, I saw the Mail headline yesterday (or was it today?) about Public sector jobs being better paid like for like than Private sector ones. So, I presume you are saying that this must be sexism as more women are employed in public sector jobs? Personally, I think it is rather more complicated than that, and that at many levels, private sector jobs are better paid. At the lower pay levels I am sure that the private sector employees lose out, because of exploitation, and at that level of course, the vast majority of those workers are women. To suggest that public sector employers discriminate in favour of women is to misunderstand (?wilfully) that sector.

  • “To suggest that public sector employers discriminate in favour of women is to misunderstand (?wilfully) that sector.”

    Trying going to a primary school and saying that with a straight face.

    You haven’t address the key point. If the cuts are wrong and sexist because more women are going to lose their jobs, then how was it not sexist for the public sector to refuse/fail to recruit many men for such a long time? (especially given the discrepancies between male and female unemployment rates).

    Featherstone’s position is ridiculous. The only reason most women will be disproportionally impacted by cuts is because they’ve had special treatment and special privileges previously. The real vicitms are the men who never had the jobs or benefits in the first place, nor have any of the income from them saved up to fall back on.

    People look at the situation from a false starting point. Impacts and not the same as fairness or equality. For example, the impact of the cuts on a woman unfairly promoted into a high paying state non job will no doubt be huge once it dissapears. But the fact is that she shouldn’t even have had that job and furthermore it shouldn’t even exist anyway. Yes it’s a huge impact, but the only actual unfairness is that she had the job in the first place and that she’s been misled into thinking such a role was either deserved or sustainable.

  • JustAnotherVoter 10th Jul '11 - 2:18pm

    I agree with Bob.

    @Peter: The graph shows that we have by far the largest fiscal deficit since World War 2, despite Tim’s claim to the contrary.

  • Ruth Bright 10th Jul '11 - 8:43pm

    Yeah Bob it’s high time women in the public sector stopped getting special treatment. They’re always getting cushy jobs like being care assistants for a princely 14K per annum. All those jobs that men are queuing up for but the evil system somehow thwarts them from getting.

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