1) Cuts hitting women hardest
Austerity isn’t working. There is no evidence that cuts are being made in an intelligent way to boost the economy – instead, we are seeing an ideological attack on the big state and social welfare being forced through tactically at a time of economic crisis. However, you don’t need to be a Marxist or share my views on economics to see the stark evidence that cuts are disproportionately impacting on women, (along with children, the disabled, and ethnic minorities), increasing the hierarchical structure of society. Cuts to public services – health services such as breastfeeding support, childcare at Surestart centres, cuts to public transport – hit women harder because women are more dependent on these services. Pay freezes hit those at the bottom economically (disproportionately women) harder. Public sector pension reform will increase the gender gap in old age poverty. Cuts to jobs across the public sector again fall disproportionately on women. Benefits reform is set to take away financial autonomy for women who work in the home and will again hit women hardest in terms of who stands to lose the most. On top of this, women are having to provide care labour for free to replace services where care is being cut.
2) The “bonfire” of equality legislation and employment rights
Attacks on legislation mean equality in the workplace will be hit hard. For example, the introduction of costs at the beginning stages of the employment tribunal process will price many out of justice. Changes to legislation will also mean employers found to discriminate no longer have to make substantial changes to the workplace as a result of a tribunal. The slashing of the EHRC will have long term consequences for the makeup of our society.
3) Bodily autonomy up for debate – again
In the last couple of months we have had many a soundbite from politicians talking about their difficult moral choices over abortion. The thing is, their opinions are irrelevant. Abortion ethics belong to the realm of medical science – anything else is religion, opinion or supersticion: a personal choice, not a valid argument for controlling others’ bodies. We have also had rape apologism across the political spectrum over and over again. Our bodies – our choices.
I will be joining with other feminists tomorrow to march on Westminster and take part in a mass lobby of MPs. I’m going to take the message to politicians to stop concerning themselves with my uterus and instead to look at the mess they are making for my living breathing daughter. See you (if not my non-responding MP, Chris Kelly, Dudley South) there.