Bright Blue

Document Sample
Bright Blue Powered By Docstoc
					                             Sayeeda WARSI
                            Samantha CALLAN
                            Mary Ann SIEGHA
                              Natalie EVANS

            bright blue    WINTER 2010 N.Murphy

                     Graeme Archer is a member of the Conservative Party's approved list of parliamentary
                     candidates, and has been a councillor in Harlow, Essex

                     Simon Blake is Chief Executive of Brook, the leading UK charity for sexual health advice and
Sayeeda Warsi        services to young people

                     Dr Samantha Callan is Chairman in Residence at the Centre for Social Justice and an Honorary
                     Research Fellow at Edinburgh University

                     Professor Sarah Childs is Professor of Politics and Gender at the University of Bristol

                     Professor Geoff Dench is a Fellow at The Young Foundation and author of What Women Want
                     and Transforming men

Mary Ann Sieghart    Natalie Evans is the Deputy Director of Policy Exchange

                     Sally Gimson is Head of Public Policy at Victim Support

                     Kate Groucutt is Policy and Research Director of Daycare Trust and is on the executive of
                     the Fabian Society

                     Ed Holmes is the Welfare Research Fellow at Policy Exchange

                     Zohra Moosa is the Women’s Rights Advisor at ActionAid UK
Dr Samantha Callan
                     Dr Katherine Rake is the Chief Executive of the Family and Parenting Institute and the
                     former Director of the Fawcett Society

                     Mary Ann Sieghart is a columnist for The Independent and the Chair of the Social Market

                     Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is the Chairman of the Conservative Party

                     Professor Paul Webb is Professor of Politics at the University of Sussex
Dr Katherine Rake


              Baroness Sayeeda Warsi describes how she became the first Muslim women in
              the Cabinet


              Mary Ann Sieghart on how the Spending Review affects women

Pages 10-15   THE THINKERS

              Professor Sarah Childs and Professor Paul Webb chart the Conservative party’s
              progress on representing women
              Natalie Evans and Ed Holmes assess the Government’s welfare reform agenda
              Professor Geoff Dench ponders over the role of men in the 21st century

Page 16       OPINION

              Graeme Archer reflects on the importance of masculine role models for young men


              Kate Groucutt wants the Government to act on the evidence on the importance of
              Zohra Moosa takes us overseas to discover how women are standing up to injustice
              Dr Katherine Rake calls for a family-friendly Britain
              Simon Blake believes feminism hasn’t forgotten teenage mothers
              Sally Gimson reminds us of the horror of violence against women


              Dr Samantha Callan celebrates the critical role of fathers in families
                                                           EDITOR IAL

We're all losers without women
By Ryan Shorthouse

Women in Britain today have more op-         to pursue leisure and community activi-      of fortune. Motherhood penalises
portunities than ever, thanks to the         ties, and be with our families.              women’s employment prospects, career
opening up of the education system and                                                    breaks and part-time work hurting hourly
the labour market. The female employ-        Women’s push for equality generated          pay and promotion prospects, leading to
ment rate has increased dramatically –       greater tolerance and respect for female     the gender pay gap which is a third
from 59% in 1971 to 70% in 2008 – and the    opinions and virtues. Policies have been     higher in the UK than the EU average.
number of women going to university has      generated and implemented to help re-        Later, partly because they live longer,
rocketed, with a greater proportion at-      solve problems which largely affect          partly because their pension provision
tending, and getting better degrees,         women – the cost of childcare, domestic      tends to be poorer, woman are more
compared to men. At every stage in the       violence, sexual abuse.                      likely to live in poverty.
education process, girls outperform
boys.                                        Emotiveness, tolerance and expression         “ The real scandal was,
                                             seem to have become more common in
                                                                                           despite representing over 50%
In a range of spheres – politics, journal-   social interaction - not just because of
ism, art, business – women are shaping       women, but certainly aided by the em-         of the population, women
the debate, changing lives for the bet-      bracing of feminine virtues. Call this the    only accounted for a measly
ter. And, if we could ever forget, one of    feminisation of society if you like. And      9% of MPs in our party”
the most successful Prime Minister’s         contemplate on how it has aided social
Britain has had, transforming our politi-    capital, improved relationships and lib-     It remains the case that senior positions
cal and economic landscape, was a            erated personalities.                        in the most powerful organisations – FTSE
woman. Thank you Lady T.                                                                  100 companies, the civil service, busi-
                                             We should, undoubtedly, celebrate the        nesses - are dominated by men. Just look
Our culture has changed, for the better,     improved status of women and welcome         at British politics. The Cabinet has only
thanks to the growing influence of           the influence women have had on our so-      four women, despite female talent abun-
women. Family life and children – which      ciety. Take time to reflect also on the      dant on the government benches.
most people, studies have shown, derive      prosperity and freedoms the vast major-
the greatest happiness from – have be-       ity of women enjoy in this country com-      Without the substantial representation
come more central in our lives. The          pared to other areas of the world.           of women in powerful positions, there is
amount of time parents spend with their                                                   a real risk that decision-makers neglect
children has increased significantly over    Problems persist, however. At the start      – even forget - the unique needs of
30 years. Women have pushed for              of their lives, girls seem to have an ad-    women. Unfortunately, the cuts
greater leave and flexible working           vantage: their education results are bet-    announced in the Spending Review do af-
arrangements, benefiting a wide array of     ter and the unemployment rate is lower       fect women more, since they are more
people, allowing many of us to better        for young women than men. But as we          likely to be employed in the public
balance our need to work with our need       move up the life-cycle, we see a reversal    sector and be the recipients of benefits
                                                          EDITORIA L

and tax credits. Bad choices were made,    senting the whole nation. Welcome in-
which will hamper the opportunities for    deed is that we have the highest number      The Progressive Conscience
women: the reduction in support for        of female MPs ever in our party history.         is produced and published by
childcare costs, for instance, makes no    But as we still lag behind the number of
sense at all.                              female Labour MPs, the push for more
                                           women parliamentarians shouldn’t stop
                                                                                                bright blue
Theresa May, who is Minister for Women     now.
                                                                                          The Progressive Conscience
alongside being Home Secretary, has
done a remarkable job, as Harriet Har-     And we must not forget the problems
man did with Labour, of leading the        women still face, despite massive            Editor: Ryan Shorthouse
fight in the party for ensuring policies   advances in their rights and opportuni-      Design: Dinc
better meet the needs of women. The        ties over the decades. Recent figures
Conservative Manifesto included bold       from the domestic violence charity
                                                                                           The Bright Blue Executive
pledges: compulsory pay audits for com-    Refuge show that two women die a
panies found to be guilty of gender pay    week at the hands of their husbands or
discrimination, funding for 15 new rape    boyfriends. Teenage pregnancy remains        Tim Flagg
crisis centres, more health visitors to    high, with just over 40,000 girls becom-
support new mothers and the extension      ing young mothers each year. Overseas,
                                                                                        Jonty Olliff-Cooper
of flexible working. May, and our Party    women are subjected to unimaginable
Chairman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, now       crimes. These vulnerable women, here
need more support at the top to ad-        and abroad, need our support.                Ryan Shorthouse
vance policies that help women.                                               
                                           These are difficult times, with fiscal re-
To his credit, David Cameron recognised    trenchment causing unease and uncer-         Alexandra Jezeph
that the serious lack of female Tory MPs   tainty, and civil unrest rising. It’s
- only 17 before the last General Elec-    certainly not my intention with this
                                                                                        James Marshall
tion - affected voters perception of how   magazine to darken the mood any more
in touch the party was with modern         - progress, by all political parties, has
attitudes. The push for more female        been made in better representing
                                                                                        Liam Scott-Smith
candidates was needed. Some, of            and catering for women. Rather, our
course, cried that it was scandalous to    contributors are highlighting the
consider candidates on anything other      challenges women still face in today’s       Rebecca Loi
than merit. But the real scandal was,      society. With such dedicated and pas-
despite representing over 50% of the       sionate campaigners – including those
population, women only accounted for       who have kindly written in this magazine
a measly 9% of MPs in our party, a party   – the future can be fairer and brighter
that supposedly pitches itself as repre-   for women in the UK, and overseas.
                                                        THE PROG CON ESS AY

Women, Islam and politics
Diversity among politicians should be celebrated and encouraged argues the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi

Boosting the role of Muslim women is           Why are things moving so slowly? It’s           Muslim women
something which really matters to me.          partly tied to the wider problem of             So what do we need to do now? We’ve
That’s partly because I was so annoyed         getting more women into politics.               got to start by diagnosing the problem
at the patronising way Labour talked                                                           properly. I know that some say that Islam
about ethnic minorities. With Labour,          David Cameron did fantastic work in             somehow          promotes          gender
the approach was all about separating          changing the face of our party. He tried        inequality. That’s always been baffling
people into social silos. There was a          just about everything to bring in more          to me. Not only did the Prophet Muham-
sense that diversity meant difference –        women candidates. We changed the                mad describe men and women as
and difference required special treat-         application process, using groups like          “ mutual friends” , but he also said in his
ment. And that led to a situation which        Women2Win and more headhunting. We              farewell speech that women are men’s
was tantamount to state-sponsored seg-         changed the selection process, with less        “ partners and committed helpers” .
regation.                                      of the big, macho speechmaking and
                                               more of the things like social work and         If you consider those words alongside the
So Britain desperately needed a new            social action which make for a good MP.         almost total absence of equality in the
approach – one which focuses on integra-       And in the end, we tried everything short       7th century, then it’s hard to escape the
tion, aspiration, choice and opportunity.      of all-women shortlists.                        conclusion that the message of Islam is
Since we’ve been in office, that’s what                                                        one of emancipation and equality.
the coalition has been working full pelt
                                                    “ Our mother told us that
to bring about. But we also need to be                                                         To quote the late Benazir Bhutto: “ in an
honest with ourselves and accept that               that while she did not go                  age when no country, no system, no
one of the biggest problems is politics –           to university, it was our                  community gave women any rights, in a
because there are still far too few Muslim          duty to go on her behalf                   society where the birth of a baby girl was
women in the three main parties.                    and bring her back five                    regarded as a curse, where women were
                                                                                               considered chattel, Islam treated women
                                                    university degrees. And
Women in politics                                                                              as individuals.” Instead, the real barrier
Now it’s an honour to be the first Muslim           that’s exactly what we                     for Muslim women is cultural not devo-
woman in Cabinet. And I’m not surprised             did”                                       tional. Islam preaches a message of
that it’s taken the election of a Conser-                                                      opportunity; but too often the opportu-
vative Prime Minister for a Muslim             And yes, we made progress, almost tre-          nities given by our faith are denied by
woman to get there. But when you think         bling the number of Conservative women          our culture.
about it, it is incredible that it has taken   MPs at the election. But the truth is
so long for Muslim women to get to the         we’ve still got so much further to go,          To give just one example of what I mean:
top of British politics. Indeed, it’s only     both as a party and in our parliament.          where I live in Yorkshire, some Muslim
this year that the first Asian women were      And that’s especially true when it comes        men are still arguing about whether
elected as MPs.                                to Muslim women.                                women should be allowed to go to
                                                     T HE PR OGC ON ESSAY

university. But the Koran couldn’t be        man, you educate an individual. In my         mature debate about Muslim women’s
clearer: “ Education is obligatory on both   own experience, there’s a lot to be said      issues, that’s got to change.
Muslim men and women, even if they           for that. I am the second of five girls,
have to go to China to seek it” (which       and when we were young, our mother            Above all, we need role models. Not long
wasn’t so easy in the camel-riding 7th       told us that that while she did not go to     ago, I met a girl from Oldham, from a
century).                                    university, it was our duty to go on her      Pakistani background. She said to me:
                                             behalf and bring her back five university     “ Five years ago my father would have
Supportive families                          degrees. And that’s exactly what we did.      baulked at the idea I would even think
So how can we overcome the cultural                                                        about politics and now he wants me to
barriers which have been put in women’s      Education is the door to opportunity – not    stand at the local council elections be-
way? First, we need supportive families.     just because it gives you skills and confi-   cause, he said: ‘I want you to do what
Back in 2005, when I was standing as         dence. It also allows you to know your        that Sayeeda Warsi has done.’”
Dewsbury’s Conservative candidate, a         mind and reach your destiny – using our
group of local elders came to see my fa-     true Muslim values to tackle inequality.      I am not going to pretend that life as
ther. They told him that his daughter was                                                  a British Muslim female politician has
bringing shame on the family.                The media                                     always been comfortable.
                                             Third, we need a responsible media.
It wasn’t the first time the elders had      When I travel to Pakistan and other Mus-      Of course, there are times when it seems
visited. In 1976, they said it was shame-    lim countries, I get complaints that the      that all these things – being British, Mus-
ful my father was letting his wife learn     media are much more interested in             lim, female and in politics – collide. But
to drive. In 1987, they said that it was     women’s dupatta and chador than in            I passionately believe that it is possible
shameful his daughter was going to           their policies. I sympathise. But here in     to be a successful Muslim woman in
university. Now in 2005, they were back.     Britain I think we’ve got bigger prob-        British politics. And if we want a culture
And each time, my father gave the same       lems. I’ve said before that anti-Islamic      which promotes greater equality, we
reply: no, it was not shameful.              sentiment is seen as fair game in certain     need more Muslim women shining a torch
                                             parts of the media. If we want a more         and leading the way.
In fact, he thought it was a pretty good
thing. He said he wanted his daughter to
go into politics, to stand up for what she
believed in. Until more fathers want
what their daughters want, we’re not
going to get anywhere.

Second, education is key. There is a
saying in Islam that if you educate a girl
you educate a family; if you educate a
                                                      T HE POLITIC S COLUM N

Where are the women?
The Cabinet lacks women and the Spending Review, intentionally or not, hits women harder than men. By Mary Ann Sieghart

I suppose we should have seen it com-          measure argued persuasively that               The 10 per cent cut in childcare support
ing. Four days of negotiations in May          anonymity would prevent other victims          through tax credits announced in the
between the Conservatives and the              of the same rapist coming forward. Why         CSR will mean that work will no longer
Liberal Democrats, and not a single            did no-one in the Government policy-           pay for many mothers. Meanwhile, cuts
woman in sight.                                making team think of that? And now the         to other benefits hit women harder than
                                               only official voice for women in the UK        men, as benefits typically make up a
All eight negotiators were men, as were        has now been silenced, with the aboli-         fifth of women’s income, compared
the two party leaders. So perhaps it’s         tion of the Women’s National Commis-           with a tenth of men’s. A million more
not surprising that neither the Coalition      sion.                                          women than men claim housing benefit.
Agreement nor the subsequent Govern-
ment has done anything to further the          When George Osborne came out with his          Women are also more dependent on
cause of women. If anything, the cause         emergency Budget in June, it transpired        public services, so they will feel the
has gone into reverse.                         that nobody in power had bothered to           brunt of the cuts more harshly.
                                               fulfill a legal obligation to check its
The new Cabinet has more men who               impact on women. As a result, the Faw-         Yet, before the worst of the cuts have
went to one Oxford College – Magdalen          cett Society is now taking the Treasury        even taken place, we hear that
– than it has women. Of the four               to court.                                      women’s unemployment is rising, while
women, only one, Theresa May, has a                                                           men’s is falling. The number of women
senior job. The disproportion looks                                                           out of work is now at its highest since
particularly bad compared with the 11            “ Cuts to other benefits hit                 1988 (though it is still lower than the
women in Labour’s Shadow Cabinet. But            women harder than men,                       number of men).
then, the Tories and Lib Dems have a
                                                 as benefits typically make up
much smaller female talent pool from                                                          Perhaps the only good news for women
which to choose: just 12 per cent of the         a fifth of women’s income,                   to come out of the recession is that
Lib Dem parliamentary party are women            compared with a tenth of                     private-sector employers are now more
and 16 per cent of the Tories’, com-             men’s”                                       willing to countenance flexible working
pared with 31 per cent of Labour’s.                                                           as a way of saving money.

As a result, perhaps, women’s voices in        As for the Comprehensive Spending              So women are now more likely to be
this Government seem to have been              Review, it comprehensively targets             allowed to work from home, reduce
muted. It took forensic opposition from        women, wittingly or not. The Chartered         their hours, or fit their work around
Labour and women’s lobby groups for            Institute of Personnel and Development         their children’s school – unless, that is,
the Coalition to drop the proposal for         estimates that 80 per cent of the nearly       they lose their job altogether. And that
anonymity to be granted to men                 half a million public-sector workers           is a likelier prospect now than it was a
accused of rape. Opponents of the              likely to lose their jobs will be women.       year ago.
                                                             THE THIN KER S

Feminisation and the Cameroonian Conservative party
Thanks to the Cameroons, the Conservative party is more in touch with women’s lives. But there’s much more to do, say Professor Sarah Childs
and Professor Paul Webb

It was just two minutes into his leader-        tion of the Conservative party is clearly       and despite the party’s efforts to reform
ship acceptance speech that David               observable. This is especially the case in      its selection - too many Conservative
Cameron announced he would redress              terms of its policies for women, at least       women candidates failed to be selected
the ‘scandalous under-representation of         as outlined in the party’s General Elec-        in the party’s held and winnable seats.
women’ in his party; and in his first           tion Manifesto. The party’s success in
speech as leader he made it clear that          electing more women MPs, whilst wel-            The Conservative Party must, then,
‘transforming the face and the agenda’          come, is less profound. Despite the Daily       redouble its efforts if it is to make
of the party ‘go hand in hand’. These           Telegraph claiming huge strides have            good on Cameron’s 2005 commitment –
are the two dimensions of feminization          been made, the party fell short of its          increasing women’s descriptive repre-
– the integration of women and the              own expectations of some 60 women.              sentation is not a one-off event. In so
integration of women’s concerns.                And inter-party asymmetry remains very          doing, the Party has to reconsider All
                                                much in Labour’s favour.                        Women Shortlists.
In 2005 the Conservatives base line on
both dimensions was very low. Its 2005          The raw figures are telling: on May 6th
                                                                                                  “ Much Conservative policy
Manifesto had trailed in a poor third           the Conservatives returned 48 Conserva-
compared to Labour and the Liberal              tive women MPs, more than doubling
                                                                                                  was – and this was also true
Democrats. In the Tory Manifesto the            their number. Another has since been              of the other two main parties
dominant representations of women               elected. Yet Labour, who lost 90 odd              – for women as mothers, a
were as the victims of crime – a series         seats, returned 81 women MPs, consti-             problematic approach that
of photographs depicted a woman hav-            tuting more than 30 percent of the PLP.
                                                                                                  elides women with mothers,
ing her handbag snatched – and as the           Tory women MPs constitute 16 percent.
saviours of British hospitals, with ‘Ma-
                                                                                                  and ignores older women
trons’ being brought back to ‘deliver           And at an election that saw many more             and the childless”
clean and infection-free wards’. At             vacant party-held seats opened up by
Westminster in 2005 the party had a pal-        the Parliamentary expenses scandal,             Cameron accepted them in principle in
try 17 women MPs, constituting just 9           women candidates were selected in just          his deposition to the Speaker’s Confer-
percent of the parliamentary party. This        15 percent of Conservative held seats.          ence in 2009, even if none were adopted
was at a time when Labour’s women MPs                                                           for the 2010 election. Of course, AWS
significantly outnumbered all the other         The percentage for Labour is 30; in             offend and invite hostility from some
parties: in 1997 they had returned 101          Conservative retirement seats women             party members, but they are the most
women; in 2005 they numbered 98 (24             candidates constituted just 26 percent,         efficient means to deliver significantly
and 28 percent of the PLP, respec-              compared to Labour’s 53 percent; and            higher numbers of women MPs, as
tively).                                        as a percentage of newly elected                Labour’s record attests. Moreover, given
                                                Conservative MPs, women constitute 22           Cameron’s plans for reducing the
Jump forward 5 years, and a feminiza-           percent. Just as in previous elections –        number of seats in the House, the Party
                                                         THE THINKERS

must ensure political reform does not        (Labour); whenever parents choose            the new and younger wife. What of Gov-
come at the cost of women’s political        (Liberal Democrat and, apparently, the       ernment and the Coalition? That the
presence – the only way to achieve this      Conservatives, who elsewhere state           lieutenants of the coalition talks were
is to devise mechanisms that will guar-      after 14 weeks); the right to request        all men received critical comment in
antee the selection of women. At the         flexible working was for parents with        the newspapers; and only four women,
minimum, the Conservatives should aim        children aged 16 (Labour), or 18 (Con-       all Conservative, sit in the Cabinet.
to return equal numbers of women and         servative), for older people, ie, grand-
men amongst the new intake of MPs at         parents (all three), for all those in the    Sure, this is the same number as in
each general election. In policy terms,      public sector and in time, and subject       Brown’s last Cabinet, but it is only half
the Conservatives look to have more          to business consultation, for all (Conser-   that of the peak of Blair’s.
successfully played the politics of ‘catch   vative).
up’ in advance of the general election.                                                   Policy wise, commitments to flexible
                                             Much of the success of the Tories’ policy    working, shared parental leave and the
There were a host of new policies for        pledges at the 2010 election lies with       gender pay gap remain, and are comple-
women detailed in its manifesto, even        Theresa May, who as shadow spokes            mented with commitments to promote
if these were largely absent from the        woman for Women and Equality                 gender equality on company boards.
campaign itself. Much Conservative           produced a number of serious policy
policy was – and this was also true of the   documents. One clear issue of policy         However, and despite the Liberal
other two main parties – for women as        difference between the parties at the        Democrats’ permission to abstain in a
mothers, a problematic approach that         election was the recognition of marriage     parliamentary vote, ‘Cameron’s baby’ –
elides women with mothers, and ignores       in the tax system.                           marriage tax breaks – remains.
older women and the childless.
                                             Championed by Cameron, it made for           The Government’s programme of spend-
The key battleground was over women’s        the uncomfortable questioning of David       ing cuts announced since the election
work/life balance and other measures         Willetts on Mumsnet, garnered critical       also raise serious questions for inter-
to help families. Conservative pledges       comment in The Spectator, and saw            party competition on women’s issues.
were much more competitive in 2010:          Harriet Harman directly confront May
pay audits were to be voluntary              over her support for the policy.             Not only did the Fawcett Society seek a
(Labour); mandatory for companies                                                         Judicial Review of the government's
found guilty of sex discrimination           For some women, the policy is evidently      emergency budget on the grounds that
(Conservative); or limited to those          perceived as old fashioned, doing little     it failed to undertake a gender audit,
larger than 100 employees (Liberal De-       to keep families together, something         Labour’s Yvette Cooper contends
mocrat).                                     that ignores single parents’ poverty,        that the Spending Review dispropor-
                                             discriminates against children of the        tionately and unfairly affects women, as
The transfer of maternity/paternity          unmarried, and is a tax on the               the main users and employees of the
leave/pay was set at six months              abandoned wife and a ‘golden hello’ to       public sector.
                                                            THE THI NK ER S

Working for women?
Natalie Evans and Ed Holmes assess the impact of the Coalition Government's ambitious
welfare reform agenda on women

In last month’s Spending Review, the           change. The government’s planned re-
Coalition set out plans to reduce budgets      forms rightly aim to simplify the current
by amounts which, in the case of non-          system, and reduce the disincentives to
ringfenced departments, were typically in      work. It should help make welfare - cur-
the region of 20-25%. Welfare spending         rently run by four different agencies - less
for people of working age was reduced by       fragmented, although it will take time as
a smaller proportion, despite the fact that    these reforms are being phased in over
this is the single largest item of govern-     the next ten years. The Coalition also
ment spending that the public would like       inherited plans set in train by Labour to
to see reduced.                                transfer large numbers of people from
                                               Incapacity Benefit to Jobseeker’s
If greater savings could be found in wel-      Allowance.
fare, it would be possible either to avoid
some of the proposed cuts, or reduce the       The effect on women
tax burden, or pay down debt faster. To        Certainly, these reforms, the most ambi-
put the scale of welfare spending into         tious since Beveridge, will have a signifi-
context, if the UK could halve the number      cant impact – ranging from using funds
of people on out of work benefits we           saved from paying benefits to reward            mattwi1s0n

could afford to abolish both corporation       providers who get people back into work
tax and inheritance tax altogether.            (the ‘Del/Ame switch’) to complete             sector also tend to be disproportionately
                                               reassessment of the UK’s 2.6 million           employed in front-line jobs (as teachers
A failed system                                Incapacity Benefits claimants. Many com-       and nurses for instance) which are being
There is little doubt that the UK welfare      mentators have criticised the Coalition’s      protected despite the cuts so it may be
system has failed in its objectives. Tax       welfare reforms as unfairly affecting          that women find they are less badly
credits, the New Deal, and efforts to          women. However, for one thing, in unem-        impacted than might be anticipated.
move lone mothers into work all formed         ployment terms women have suffered less
part of Labour’s efforts since 1997 to raise   during the recession – male joblessness        Nonetheless, Office of Budget Responsi-
the incomes of the poor and cut benefit        has risen more steeply over the last two       bility figures indicate the reduction of
dependency. Yet working age benefits           years (278,000 versus 385,000). Since          public sector roles will more than made
and tax credit spending have increased by      some 40% of working women are in the           up by the creation of 1.8 million addi-
40% since 1997, while 1.4 million people       public sector (against only 15% of working     tional private sector jobs. Fewer job
have been on work of work benefits for at      men), there is potential for gap to be         opportunities either for new recruits or
least nine of the last ten years. Two-         closed once the 490,000 headcount re-          job changers in the public sector is there-
thirds of the people on Jobseeker’s Al-        duction in the public sector begin in          fore likely to mean significant career
lowance are repeat claimants. This has to      earnest. However women in the public           changes for many and a potential reorien-
                                                          THE THINKERS

tation of women towards private sector        dren from 16 to 24 hours, may make it          than men to fall into long-term unemploy-
employment. Since women make up 35%           more difficult for women to afford child-      ment, helping many of them back into the
of the working population but 75% of part-    care and indeed the availability and qual-     workforce will not be easy. A particular
time workers, this may also create issues     ity of childcare is certainly an area where    focus will have to be ethnic minorities:
around flexible and part-time work – more     further thinking is needed by the Coali-       women with poor language skills are
commonly accommodated in the public           tion.                                          rarely employed at all for instance.
                                              For the poorest families however, some of      Another group - women close to retire-
In addition, due to lower lifetime earnings   these changes should be offset by in-          ment - will be particularly affected by the
and longevity women will undoubtedly be       creases in the Child Tax Credit and the re-    raising of the State Pension Age for both
impacted by changes to benefit entitle-       focusing of Sure Start services towards        men and women to 66 by 2020. This will
ment. Statistically, motherhood signifi-      disadvantaged children. This could help        particularly impact on women in their 50s
cantly reduces pay and employment             to reduce the gap in employment rates          – half a million of whom will have to work
prospects. The much criticised with           and reduce the gender pay gap as more          an extra two years before qualifying for
drawal of child benefit from 2013 for in-     mothers enter sustained work.                  their state pension.
stance will disproportionately impact on
stay-at-home mothers. Almost 1.3 million      Dynamic benefits
women are economically inactive but who       The key to understanding the distribu-
                                                                                               “ If welfare reform incentivises
would like to work – around 40% of them       tional impact of these reforms across both       entry to the labour market,
looking after a home or family.               men and women is their dynamic effects.          many women could find them-
                                              Of course, if welfare claimants are as-          selves materially better off
Convenient, good quality affordable child-    sumed to remain dependent on the same
                                                                                               despite lower state handouts”
care is the key to getting this group back    benefits as before and not change their
into work and has a disproportionate          behaviour, it naturally follows that any
impact on improving their quality of life -   reduction in benefits will make them           Of course, tough decisions are necessary
especially for single mothers. Given that     worse off. This is an axiom many rep-          – and money we spend on the welfare
the majority of lone parents on benefits      utable institutions (most notably the In-      system is money we can’t spend on
are female (95% of Income Support             stitute for Fiscal Studies) follow. But this   schools or hospitals. Reducing spending
claimants, for example), the increase in      is not how the real world works.               without undermining work incentives or
conditionality that the Government in-                                                       anti-poverty efforts was never going to be
tends to pilot will impact more on women      If welfare reform incentivises entry to the    easy. Many new proposals have little
than men.                                     labour market, many women could find           details as yet and will fleshed out over the
                                              themselves materially better off despite       coming years.
The reduction of the childcare element of     lower state handouts - not to mention
Working Tax Credit from 80% to 70%, as        gaining from the physical and psychologi-      The debate on the future of welfare and
well increasing as increasing the working     cal benefits of work which are well            its impact on women in Britain has just
hours requirement for couples with chil-      rehearsed. Though women are less likely        begun.
                                                            THE THIN KER S

Men          a wasting resource
The feminist drive for equality in the workplace is not what many women want.
By Professor Geoff Dench

Even more than most other Western so-          the potential value of sex differences,
cieties, Britain has come to adopt a           and giving men specific responsibilities
conflict model of relations between            in families for those tasks which women
men and women – conceptualising them           themselves have been least keen or
as groups with similar interests and           able to carry out. It is much more about
aims competing for domination. This is         Durkheim, and the Division of Labour,
a pity.                                        than Marx and competition.

I think that such a model turns its back       None of these systems have been with-
on thousands of years of female experi-        out problems. Insofar as men take
ence of how to transform men into tol-         charge of particular activities, women
erably useful members of society. If we        may feel excluded. And if the family
neglect this hard won experience, we           role of men includes representing fam-     “ Men know they are more
are spurning a major natural resource.         ilies, then male values can come to        dispensable than women –
                                               occupy too influential a place. But,       hence chivalry and men’s
The basic mistake of this model lies in        until recently, sexual balance and har-
                                                                                          time-honoured role in
regarding men as occupying the centre          mony appear to have prevailed. And I
                                                                                          risky occupations and war:
of society and monopolising the best           think that the fundamental rule under-
positions. This is very hard to believe.       pinning this has been that the ‘private    but hence too their drift
Throughout creation, it is females who         realm’ of family life and values, con-     back to the margins and
are central among those species with           trolled by women, has been sovereign.      shadows when they no
complex social organisations, because          Men and their ‘public’ realms have been    longer feel needed”
reproduction is the key collective activ-      answerable to the private.
ity around which society revolves. Adult
males tend to hover on the edge of             But this compact is now unravelling in
groups, available to take part in insem-       the West. The emergence of modern
ination, and constantly jockeying for          states has made the public realm ever
position to do this, but not doing much        more fascinating. Also, improvement of
else. What has been distinctive about          birth control technologies has freed up
the evolution of human society is that         women to expand their own activities.
ways have been found for systemati-            So adjustments to the sexual division of
cally bringing almost all these males          labour were necessary. Unfortunately,
into constructive group membership.            advocates of sexual symmetry, who
This has been achieved by recognising          deny difference, have had the upper
                                                        THE THINKERS

hand in this process. The resulting so-     that men have become a problem for          mainly for men – those dealing with
cial policies adopted to help women,        society, and blight the lives of commu-     things (obdurate matter) rather than
which prioritise work rather than family    nities where a few generations ago they     people; those involving high risk and
life, appear to be allowing men to re-      would have been valued and made use-        anxiety, or relentless (and narrow) con-
vert to nature.                             ful. The ballooning prison population,      centration. Also most women are hap-
                                            the large number of unskilled jobless,      piest working part time, and combining
Those middle class men who are keen-        the high rate of male suicide – now five    it with family life.
est to compete in the job market, be-       times as high as among women – all re-
cause they have access to rewarding         duce the pool of young men suitable to      If only the Women and Work
careers, seem increasingly to baulk at      be selected as husbands, and help to        Commission could stop complaining
the idea of being parents. Many other       drive Broken Britain.                       about male monopolies, there would be
men just seem to be drifting into                                                       plenty of work that British boys could
worklessness, as they feel they have        But not all is yet lost. My recent re-      be encouraged to see as waiting
little to offer families. For those men     search suggests that this collapse of       for them and needing them, including
whose only possible work is menial or       male morale is not actually what            any number of ‘menial’ jobs (which
boring, family incentives are crucial.      women want. Most ordinary women,            women don’t much like and so for
                                            those outside the political class, do not   which, under feminisation, we have
A common response among them to the         want to dispense with men. They want        become overly dependent on immi-
notion of feminisation of work, or the      partners to live with and help bring up     grants – most of whom are still pro-
idea that women would prefer to do it       their children. They also want husbands     pelled by a strong sense of family
for themselves, is just to stand back       who will be reliable breadwinners – giv-    responsibility).
and let them get on with it.                ing them more time to be mothers and
                                            active in the community.                    Over the last few decades what we
This I think underlies the rising tide of                                               have seen amounts to a redrawing
male disorganised behaviour – of apa-       For modern women, especially those          rather than disappearance of the sexual
thy, crime, drugs, even suicide. Men        under 35, the private realm is still cen-   division of labour.
know they are more dispensable than         tral; and male providers still have a
women – hence chivalry and men’s            place. There is no longer much appetite     Women have taken on many roles they
time-honoured role in risky occupations     for competing with men as equals in the     did not play before. But there is still
and war: but hence too their drift back     job market. Sexual interdependence is       much that most prefer men mainly to
to the margins and shadows when they        becoming valued again. The main ob-         do. Male labour is still necessary. If the
no longer feel needed.                      stacle to this, making it harder for boys   state left this issue more to people’s
                                            to be aware of the actual situation, is     choices, and worried less about
This is not really a problem for men –      our public commitment to gender sym-        women’s ‘failure’ to achieve formal
who are less of an entity than some-        metry. There are many activities that       parity, we would make better use of
times imagined. It does however mean        most women are content to leave             available human resources.
                                                                OPI NI ON

The Love of Men
The erosion of masculinity is damaging to young men and the rest of us, argues Graeme Archer

I once found a cassette tape - remember        asked me to write about the ‘feminisa-          around us with no access to fathers, ei-
them? - at the bottom of a drawer, left        tion’ of British society, and the role this     ther by explicit design (it is a shibboleth
untouched over a few house moves, and          has had in a greater acceptance of              of the Left, now, that it is ‘homophobic’
curiosity about its contents led me to         (male?) homosexuality. I think, in as far       to dislike the provision to lesbians and
put it into the cassette recorder - re-        as this is a thesis at all, that it is almost   single women of anonymous sperm, via
member them? - and press play. It              entirely wrong (I don’t think tolerance         the NHS, with which to produce father-
turned out to be just a tape of pop            of male homosexuality has anything to           less children. I must be homophobic,
music, pirate-assembled for a long-for-        do with the role of heterosexual women          then), or by implicit cultural driver (ei-
gotten party, but somewhere along its          in the workplace).                              ther as a result of the blatantly anti-
length the tape had been distorted. A                                                          male stance taken by the family divorce
party-goer coming into the kitchen for a                                                       courts or because we don’t dare judge
                                                 “ The next time you’re sat
top-up must have pressed ‘record’ (in-                                                         those people who produce multiple chil-
advertently, I imagine), and taped the           next to a Polish builder on                   dren with multiple partners without in-
voices of the other people present. And          the bus, don’t get sniffy                     tending to provide a semblance of
so it was, ten years after he died, I            about the can of beer in his                  two-parent stability for any of them).
heard the voice of my father speaking to         hands… Ask yourself: why is
me again.                                                                                      Even boys with fathers are raised in a
                                                 he working so hard?”
                                                                                               wider culture which blatantly derides
If he didn’t say anything very profound                                                        the masculine (every single advert ever
during the few moments of the record-          Instead I’m going to take advantage of          made appears to revolve around the en-
ing, at least I had his voice, and at least    the spectator position which a gay man          tirely fictional claim that men can’t do
the party wasn’t ‘long-forgotten’ after        may adopt in the often baffling dialectic       anything). The limit of this nonsense was
all; was, in fact, returned to me in           between heterosexual men and women,             listening to Harriet Harman’s view that
 crystalline detail, and because it was a      and offer some comments on the (in my           the financial crash would have been
very happy party (which involved a swim        opinion) grotesque and damaging deni-           avoided were bankers mostly female; a
in a lake while lightning streaked the         gration suffered by straight men in mod-        New Labour update of the Seventies guff
sky, I suddenly recalled), and was one of      ern Britain, particularly in terms of their     that all violence is male-ordered. (Try
those rare evenings of visible, tangible       most important role, that of the fathers        explaining that concept to the relatives
love among friends and family, I was           of their children. If it strikes you as         of the gay man kicked to death in Trafal-
very grateful for the happy accident,          ironic that a gay man should be an              gar Square by a group containing an em-
and moved to hear my father speak              unalloyed champion of the virtues of            powered, out-of-control female.)
again, after too many years of silence.        straightforward masculine heterosexu-
I’ll come back to my own father later,         ality, I hope at least you’ll take the time     What, it’s fair to ask, are the conse-
but I want to discuss the role of fathers      to wonder why I feel the need to be so.         quences of this societal shift? It’s not
in general. The Editor of this magazine        Generations of boys are being raised all        just the crime statistics or the exam pass


rates or the reams of evidence about          of kids, whose single ‘achievement’ is to    being raised without access to their
what happens to children raised in fa-        frighten other people, who have almost       dads. The policy architects who deliv-
therless households - a disgrace to any       certainly been denied access to that         ered such an outcome, far from being
civilised society though all these are.       most basic of children’s rights: the love    praised for our increasingly feminised
The worst outcome is the swaggering,          of a mother and father, and I wonder,        state, should hang their heads in shame,
hopeless nihilism on the faces of the         what would have happened to me with-         as first boys and then the rest of us suf-
hooded gangs that haunt our estates.          out my father’s love? Lots of me comes       fer the consequences.
Don’t tell me this has nothing to do with     from both my parents, but the bits that
their lack of fathers. Don’t even con-        make me a good man come from my              The next time you’re sat next to a Polish
sider breathing life into such a ridiculous   dad. I doubt I’m unique.                     builder on the bus, don’t get sniffy
sentence.                                                                                  about the can of beer in his hands. Look
                                              Progress of women into positions of          into his lined, exhausted face. Consider
Here are some of the lessons my own           leadership in our institutions and work-     spending a day carrying out the back-
dad taught me. Don’t rush to judge            places is a good thing. Feminisation of      breaking labour he takes for granted as
other people because they are different       society - the idea that masculine virtues    his lot. Ask yourself: why is he working
from yourself; and - to sublimate your-       are not required - is not. We have ended     so hard? I’ll bet you anything you like it’s
self into love for those close to you is a    up in a situation where we actively re-      to make some money to give his children
good thing; and I don’t pass a day on the     ward and encourage people not to stay        a better life. Fathers aren’t optional,
planet without thinking of him at some        together in order to raise their children,   middle-class extras. Children need their
point. I look at those swaggering gangs       which in turn means that children are        fathers. Our society needs them too.
                                                          THE CA MPA IGNER S

Championing childcare
The availability of high-quality pre-school education not only helps working women and parents but children too, argues Kate Groucutt

Childcare remains one of the biggest is-        care places available, and the support to        porting. Yet more than half of women
sues facing families in the UK. What kind       pay for it, has improved rapidly in the          with young children still take this deci-
of childcare to choose, where to find it        last decade.                                     sion. It takes a strong will for women to
and how to pay for it are some of the                                                            return to work, driven by a belief that
toughest dilemmas facing parents, par-          The fact remains that in Britain we make         work is right for them and their family.
ticularly when the mother decides to re-        it pretty difficult for women to return to
turn to work. For most women this               work. The idea that there is lots of             Of course for many it is a financial im-
occurs before their child starts school,        affordable, high quality childcare               perative, due to a big mortgage requir-
meaning that alternative care needs to          available that women can just drop their         ing two incomes. But financial
be found - more than half of women (57          children at in order to go to jobs that          motivation alone does not account for
per cent) with a child aged under five          don’t really need doing is fanciful. In          the desire among mothers to work. They
are in employment, rising to 71 per cent        fact, some of the mothers we work with           also want to regain their financial inde-
of those with a child aged five to ten.         have previously been very career-                pendence, pursue their careers, main-
                                                minded and keen to return to work full           tain social networks and ensure that
Evidence shows that the availability of         time, but when they sit down and do              they don’t lose their skills with an ex-
childcare has a significant impact on           their sums, it can work out as a better          tended period outside of the workplace.
mothers’ decisions to return to work.           financial deal for their family if they
Recent Department for Education re-             stay at home or work only part-time,
search found that nearly one third (29          particularly once they have more than            There has already been some evidence
per cent) of mothers who had moved              one child.                                       of the Government’s commitment to
into work in the previous two years said                                                         maintaining a strong childcare system,
it was because they had found a job that        For families on moderate incomes there           and its support for the principle of
enabled them to combine work with               is no free childcare until their child is        universal access established by Labour.
their caring responsibilities. When asked       three, unless family or friends can be           In the Spending Review the Chancellor
about the childcare arrangements that           relied upon to help. Once their child is         confirmed that the fifteen hours of
helped them to go out to work, the fac-         three they get fifteen hours per week of         nursery care for all three and four year
tor most commonly reported – by 47% of          nursery education, barely enough to              olds would be retained, and free hours
mothers – was that reliable childcare           sustain even the most part-time of jobs          extended to the 25% most deprived 2
was available to them.                          once travel time is included.                    year olds.

These figures, and the regular calls that       For low-income families support through          This free entitlement was, and remains,
Daycare Trust receives to its helpline for      tax credits may be available (although           the most important policy to arise from
parents, tell us that the choice for            this will be cut back from April), but this      the previous Government’s childcare
women to return to work is far from             requires them to negotiate a complex             strategy, as it meant that for the first
easy, even though the number of child-          form and a bureaucratic system of re-            time ever, all children can experience
                                                     THE CAM PAI GN ERS

                                                             the role they see child-    behavioural outcomes when children
                                                              care playing in getting    enter school. Furthermore, the effects
                                                               parents back to           are long lasting and are most significant
                                                                work, reducing child     for children from disadvantaged back-
                                                                poverty and tack-        grounds.
                                                                 ling the gender pay
                                                                 gap.                    It is this evidence that should guide
                                                                                         future policy development through
                                                                 The new Universal       measures to drive up quality. This could
                                                                Credit could play a      be through a premium to providers who
                                                               valuable role here,       train their staff to a higher level and
                                                              but we’ve yet to see       better information to parents about how
                                                             concrete      proposals     to identify high quality services.
                                                           about how childcare
                                                         costs will be met under the     Likewise on narrowing the gap, the Gov-
                                                      reformed system.                   ernment needs to follow what the re-
                                                                                         search evidence tells us. Time and again
  Day Care Trust                               A holistic approach to encouraging        experts who study this area recommend
                                            people to return to work is needed and       that early intervention is what makes a
                                            childcare, the biggest work-related cost     difference in reducing inequality.
some form of early learning, helping to     for parents, must be considered within
reduce inequalities when they start         this.                                        From Professor Michael Marmot’s review
school. It also provides a platform of                                                   of health inequalities for the previous
                                            Yet if the Government is to feel truly       Government, to the current reviews
free childcare upon which parents can       comfortable on this agenda, and bring        being undertaken by Labour MPs Frank
build by paying for additional hours if     the Conservative Party’s grassroots with     Field and Graham Allen, experts have
they want to work, without worrying         it, I believe the focus should be on im-     found that it is only through significant
that they will need to remove their child   proving quality and narrowing the gap        further investment earlier in children’s
from a nursery if they lose their job.      between children from rich and poor          lives, when it is more likely to make a
                                            backgrounds. In other words, childcare       difference, that we will reduce inequal-
But despite the retention of free nursery   is a vital part of a children’s education.   ities in achievement at 16 and beyond
places, changes to tax credits will make                                                 into adulthood.
it more difficult for low income parents    The large-scale Effective Provision of
to pay for childcare, and could have a      Pre-School Education (EPPE) project          To deliver this – in other words to break
negative impact on mothers’ employ-         found a significant link between high        the link between a child’s background
ment. We hope to see more from the          quality childcare provision from age         and their future prospects – could be this
Government in the coming months about       three and better intellectual, social and    Government’s greatest achievement.
                                                          T HE CAM PAI GN ERS

The Power of Women
Women around the world face injustice simply because of their gender. But they are fighting back, maintains Zohra Moosa, and the UK should
support them

Fifteen years ago, the international com-      in poverty and to have fewer resources          high maternal mortality rates are not
munity met to decide what it would take        simply because they are women.                  simply a product of technical challenges,
to achieve equality for all women, all         Women’s unequal status in society means         such as a lack of trained health care
over the world. This World Conference on       they have less power, protection from vi-       workers. They are, rather, a product of a
Women produced the Beijing Platform for        olence, access to essential services such       much more profound political challenge
Action – the most comprehensive                as education and health care, and in            – the routine violation of women’s rights.
roadmap to women’s rights ever pro-            many places they even lack the right to         Gender inequality and discrimination
duced. It is designed to work with the         life.                                           against women are widespread, with vio-
Convention on the Elimination of all                                                           lence against women affecting one in
forms of Discrimination Against Women                                                          three women globally. Evidence shows
                                                   “ Only an approach that
(CEDAW), a legally binding treaty which                                                        that only an approach that secures
the UK ratified in 1986 that is now recog-         secures women’s human
                                                                                               women’s human rights and raises their
nised as the International Bill of Rights          rights and raises their status              status in society will ever succeed in
for Women.                                         in society will ever succeed                changing outcomes for women’s lives.
                                                   in changing outcomes for                    The changes women are making
ActionAid’s work with people at the
grassroots in over forty developing coun-
                                                   women’s lives”                              Despite the many injustices that they
tries shows that a decade and a half                                                           face, women everywhere are standing up
later, the fight for gender equality re-       The statistics on maternal mortality are        to claim their rights, challenge injustice
mains quite alive and in many places des-      illustrative. Ten years into the historic       and fight poverty. They often do this at
perately urgent. Women everywhere are          Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)             immense personal risk.
still struggling to secure their most basic    project, where governments of the world
rights and freedoms, with poor women in        promised to reduce maternal mortality           Known as women human rights defenders
poor countries often facing some of the        by 75% by 2015, it remains the case that        (WHRDs), these women are community or
starkest challenges of all.                    a woman dies from pregnancy-related             political leaders, journalists, trade union-
                                               causes every minute. 99% of these deaths        ists, teachers, lawyers, nurses and doc-
The UK is one of a handful of countries        occur in developing countries and almost        tors, private individuals and civil society
that could, with a series of bold deci-        all are entirely preventable.                   organisers. Sometimes they are part of
sions, transform the lives of millions of                                                      broader social movements, such as the
women living in developing countries –         Indeed, this year’s official MDGs progress      women small-scale farmers that work
permanently. Will this UK Government be        report confirms that, once again, the           with ActionAid’s Hunger FREE campaign
the one to do it?                              MDG on maternal health has seen the             to secure people’s right to food. Some-
                                               least progress of all the goals despite how     times they specifically advocate for
The dangers women are facing                   highly most development agencies and            women’s rights, such as the women ac-
ActionAid’s work shows that women              donors have prioritised it. Why are we          tivists involved in the Women Won’t Wait
around the world are more likely to live       struggling to meet our targets? Because         campaign that works to end violence
                                                       THE CAM PAI GN ERS

against women in the struggle to address      make many life saving changes that are      unequal and living in poverty. And they
HIV and AIDS. Women who work on               often untracked and unmeasured.             could use the UK’s solidarity and support.
women’s human rights are often at in-                                                     As the UK takes steps to tighten its belt
creased risk of attack compared to their      The future of women                         and focus on the most essential
male counterparts because they are seek-      Women around the world are facing harsh     programmes, it should remember that
ing to challenge deeply engrained ideas       realities and profound struggles – for      politics matter.
about gender roles and the status of          their lives and their rights. Women in
women in society. Sometimes women are         poor countries produce most of the          It can be tempting to propose techno-
specifically targeted for violence as they    world’s food, yet own less than one per-    cratic solutions that offer short-term and
increase their participation in public life   cent of the land. Discrimination and vio-   visible results in any austerity age. Espe-
and politics including when they attend       lence against women prevents women          cially when the benefits are supposedly
elections and run as candidates as hap-       from having choice and control over their   only felt ‘over there’. However sustain-
pened in Malawi and Afghanistan last          bodies and lives, such as securing decent   able change will come once we address
year.                                         education or participating in public        the root causes of problems. For women,
                                              life.Women are responding to these real-    who make up 70% of the world’s poor,
                                              ities by challenging the injustices that    gender inequality is the key obstacle. And
  “ Women who work on
                                              are undermining their status and working    the realization of their rights – as women
  women’s human rights are                    to change the structures that keep them     – is the only sensible solution.
  often at increased risk of at-
  tack compared to their male
  counterparts because they
  are seeking to challenge
  deeply engrained ideas”

Yet most of the progress made on
women’s rights is a result of tireless cam-
paigning by women at the grassroots.
These include major international agree-
ments such as the Beijing Platform for

They also include changes at the national
level such as the new Law on the Preven-
tion, Protection and Punishment of Any
Gender-Based Violence that women MPs
in Rwanda helped deliver. At the local
                                                                                                                Antonio Olmos/ActionAid
level, women human rights defenders
                                                                THE C AM PAIG NERS

                            A family friendly future
                            Despite the Government saying they wanted Britain to be a more family-friendly country, the
                            cuts will hurt families. Families need a brighter future. By Dr Katherine Rake.

                            In the run up to the General Election,         Maternity Grant for low income parents
                            David Cameron made a commitment to             being restricted to only first born chil-
                            making the UK the most family friendly         dren.
                            society in Europe.
                                                                           When family-based benefits are tar-
                            But we also know what an immense task          geted, it is disproportionately women
                            he has set himself. So do the UK public.       who take the hit to their personal
                            In the spring of this year, shortly before     incomes. This is partially because
                            the General Election, our organisation         women head 90 per cent of lone parent
                            commissioned a Populus poll asking re-         households. Also, within couple rela-
                            spondents to rate the UK’s family              tionships, Child Benefit is paid directly
                            friendly status. A mere six per cent           to the mother in the vast majority of
                            agreed that the country was a ‘very            cases. It is often their sole source of
                            family friendly society.’ Cameron              income.
                            therefore has to convince 94 per cent
                            of the population that the UK has              If the Prime Minister is to convince us
                            changed.                                       of his family friendly credentials against
                                                                           this backdrop, he needs to be seen as
                            So the road is a long one – and last           being on the side of mothers and fami-
                            month’s Comprehensive Spending Re-             lies. He needs to show understanding on
                            view announcements placed major new            what they are feeling – which is both
                            obstacles upon it. The CSR’s cuts may          anxiety and confusion.
                            well succeed in wiping away Britain’s
                            deficit. But the cost to UK family life
                                                                              “ Pain must be followed by
                            could be dear.
                                                                              positivity for UK family life”
                            A raft of cuts has been unveiled which,
                            considered as a package, inflict real          Elements of the cuts programme have
                            pain for families with children. They          led to serious puzzlement as to what
                            include the death of universal Child           kind of family the Coalition supports. It
                            Benefit, the scrapping of Child Trust          plans tax breaks for married couples.
                            Funds, the scaling back of Working Tax
                            Credits, the scrapping of the Health in        Yet following the end of Child Benefit
                            Pregnancy Grant, and the Sure Start            for women with a breadwinner husband
                                                                             S OC IA L JUS TICE C OR NER

earning more than £44,000, the Daily         Interdependent women
Mail featured stay-at-home mums claim-       Current welfare arrangements encourage single parenthood and fatherlessness,
ing they would be ‘better off divorced.’     says Dr Samantha Callan, to the detriment of women and children

                                             If we are looking across society, it is im-    were unaffected by the reform.) Poorer
Working mothers are also set to suffer.      portant to recognise that single parent-       women experienced a relative increase
Many rise to the challenge of combining      hood is rarely a lifestyle choice. Few         of 160% in the divorce rate because the
work and family life by working short        women voluntarily sign up for it, enjoy        way the credit was structured made it
hours around the school day.                 going it alone or want that lifestyle for      highly financially advantageous for them
                                             their own children. Many non-resident          to ditch a low- or non-earning husband.
But the announced increase in weekly         (usually male) parents are frustrated at
working hours needed to claim the            the lack of contact with their children –      Whilst chairing the Family Breakdown
Working Tax Credit means these ‘mini-        they too are single parents after all.         Review for the Social Justice Policy
jobs’ could become a less well trodden                                                      Group, commissioned by David Cameron
path away from benefits.                     However, for the poorest twenty per            in 2005, I was visited by a social worker
                                             cent of society, those who are of great-       who had travelled down from Glasgow
The Coalition must give clearer mes-         est concern to the Centre for Social Jus-      at her own expense because she was
sages on why certain cuts are being          tice, it can be a somewhat different           so concerned about fatherlessness
delivered, who will be affected and how      story. Many of the financial instruments       on low-income and often benefit-
pain will be mitigated. That way, even       in place to help single parents can, in        dependent estates.
if the pain is considerable, families will   this quintile, incentivise a relationship
not be left in the dark.                     status that is associated with significant     She was not unique in describing the way
                                             risk factors for women and children,           two-parent families had become ‘almost
Cameron’s way forward must be to             such as poverty, vulnerability to domes-       deviant’ and how young women were
articulate what family policy initiatives    tic violence and depression.                   encouraged to ‘go it alone’ with children
can be expected when the economic sky                                                       by family and social services. The young
is bluer.                                    A key aspect of welfare reform is the          men involved were considered to be
                                             need to deal with the couple penalty in        more hassle than they were worth -
Families have made clear their wish          tax credits, which makes no financial al-      “ You’re better off without him.”
for greater flexible working rights,         lowance for the presence of an addi-
for greater paternity leave rights,          tional adult. The economist Marco              If few or no efforts are made to help
greater support of grandparents provid-      Francesconi published a shocking truth         young dads-to-be prepare for their
ing childcare, for public services to be     about the effect of tax credits on couple      responsibilities then the best incentive
truly family friendly, and for measures      relationships last year in the Economics       for them to make the shift into depend-
protecting childhood against commer-         Journal. Professor Francesconi found           able adulthood has gone to waste. The
cialisation.                                 that among poor families Working Fami-         resultant lack of purpose continues the
                                             lies Tax Credit had a high divorce effect      cycle of worklessness, addiction and
Pain must be followed by positivity for      on working mothers (although women             crime which characterises our poorest
UK family life.                              with middle- and high-income partners          estates. And are women really best-

                                                      SOCIA L J US TIC E COR N ER

   served by that advice? Going it alone        ends meet, living in poor housing with-      uphold a socially acceptable standard of
   when children are small is exhausting        out adequate transportation, and where       living independent of family relation-
   but childcare and other support can          mental ill-health, alcoholism or drug        ships.
   make the challenges more surmount-           abuse are commonplace.
   able.                                                                                     This approach to welfare sounds attrac-
                                                The fatherhood lobby rightly argue that      tive for the young woman who has fled
   Yet once children hit the teenage years,     contact levels between children and          from an abusive home context straight
   the lack of a father and, for boys, a good   fathers non-resident at time of birth are    into the arms of a violent boyfriend and
   male role model becomes most pro-            much higher than is usually assumed.         who ends up with no choice but to strike
   nounced.                                     According to the Equal Opportunities         out on her own with children.
                                                Commission, 64 per cent of non-resident
   Re-partnering happens but stepfamilies       fathers were still involved with their       “ Many of the financial
   are notoriously hard to sustain over the     9-10 month old child. However, non-
                                                                                             instruments in place to help
   long term, especially in communities         resident fathers’ interests in their child
   facing the constant stress of making         changed between the ages of 9-10             single parents can incentivise
                                                months and 3 years. Around a third of        a relationship status that is
                                                these fathers were described by the          associated with significant risk
                                                mothers as having little or no interest in
                                                                                             factors for women and children”
                                                the child by age 3 and fewer than half of
                                                them still saw their children daily.
                                                                                             But to structure vast swathes of the
                                                A new government, a new opportunity,         welfare system around a dysfunctional
                                                but many forget that at the 1995 Labour      norm cannot be right and is definitely
                                                Party Conference Tony Blair said ‘a          not sustainable. Recognising that mar-
                                                strong society cannot be morally neutral     riage is the aspiration of a very signifi-
                                                about the family’. In 1996 he referred to    cant majority, whatever their social
                                                the development of an underclass of          class, has to be the starting point. The
                                                people, cut off from society's main-         cultural and fiscal bias against marriage,
                                                stream, living in poverty, the black         the further one goes down the social
                                                economy, crime and family instability.       spectrum, makes it a social justice issue.

                                                That narrative was sacrificed to satisfy     Interdependence doesn’t need to be
                                                the implicit view that defamilialisation     imposed or demanded so much as
                                                should be the measure of success of the      supported and enabled. It’s better for
                                                welfare state. Defamilialisation, accord-    children, mothers, fathers, the wider
                                                ing to welfare state theorists, is the       extended family - and ultimately for
                                                degree to which individual adults can        society.
The ignored women
Feminism has ignored teenage mothers. Time to fight for them.
By Simon Blake

Teenage pregnancy is an issue of repro-        ter-informed choices. We must at least
duction, rights and choices, subjects          put relationships and sex education on
usually close to the feminist heart, yet       a statutory footing if we are to begin to
in the UK there is surprisingly little         reverse this injustice. Until this hap-
feminist theory on the subject.                pens, feminism and society in general,
                                               has done only half a job in the empow-
Young women now have access to con-            erment and support of young women.
traception, to abortion and the right to
make choices about when and how they           However, as society has become more
have a child. Many teenagers exercise          accepting of a woman’s right to work                          
these choices: more young women than           and to choose if and when to have chil-
40 years ago choose not to have a child        dren – key achievements of feminism
                                                                                            other area on which feminists remain
when they are a teenager. And the              over the last 40 years - there has been
                                                                                            squeamishly silent; teenagers, consent
conception and birth rates have                a corresponding increase in hand-wring-
                                                                                            and sexual pleasure.
dropped as a result of the increased           ing judgement on teenagers who be-
choices available to young people as it        come pregnant based on the prevailing        Discourse on pleasure remains a wholly
has in all age groups.                         view that all conceptions to younger         adult preserve, as though young people
                                               women are bad. But demonising young          must earn their spurs through unsatis-
  “ As society has become more                 women who become pregnant and using          fying, pressured sex that they are not
  accepting of a woman’s right                 them as an example of all that is wrong      ready to enjoy or take responsibility
  to work and to choose if                     with British society is deeply unjust.       for, in order to blossom into fully satis-
  and when to have children                                                                 fied sexual beings the minute they
                                               Perhaps this is a topic fraught with con-    reach 30.
  has been a corresponding                     tradiction for a feminist. Decades of
  increase in hand-wringing                    fighting for rights – to vote, to work, to   To suggest that young people should
  judgement on teenagers                       control fertility – can make early moth-     only have good sex is controversial, but
  who become pregnant”                         erhood counterintuitive to a feminist:       it is where feminists must now take the
                                               “ is this really what we fought for…?” .     fight. Three battles, then, for feminists
With greater choice comes an increased         Some feminists find themselves in the        to wage with and on behalf of young
need for information, advice and skills        tricky position of believing that because    people: choice, education and pleas-
to support decision making. Across the         reproductive choices are good, teenage       ure. We are good at the first. We are
country, children and young people are         pregnancy must be bad. We often fail         forgetful, but well meaning, about the
being denied the education and support         to recognise that teenagers are as indi-     second. Who’s going to take up the
that would enable them to make bet-            vidual as the rest of us. There is one       mantle of the third?
                                 TH E CAMPAIGNERS

A dark spot on modern society
Violence against women is worryingly common in our society. The Government cannot turn its
back on these victims, says Sally Gimson
By far the most common form of violence        of specialised support services, and
afflicting women is in the home. These         aggressive prosecutions heighten rather
women are more likely than any other           than lessen that need. Cuts to local
victims of crime to be attacked repeat-        authority budgets, leading to deep cuts
edly, and so need considerable support,        in community safety budgets, are also ex-
particularly if they are to leave home to      acerbating the situation.
escape the violence.
                                               The Equalities and Human Rights Com-
In 2008/09 the British Crime Survey            mission and the End Violence Against
reported 293,000 cases of domestic             Women Campaign established in a joint
violence – though its own analysts esti-       report in 2009 that a third of local
mate that the real figure may be five          authorities had no specialist support serv-
times higher, because men are often            ices of any kind for women who have ex-
present when the survey’s researchers          perienced violence (including rape and
gather evidence by face to face inter-         serious sexual assault). They cited a case    more complicated cases where they
view. At Victim Support we see around          of a woman who had her children taken         might be threatened themselves, and
165,000 domestic violence cases a year         into care because there were no services      these may also be households where the
(about 13 per cent of our 1.2 million re-      in her area.                                  violence is not deemed quite serious
ferrals). These cases are overwhelmingly                                                     enough for the very specialist services of
women who have been to the police, who                                                       an IDVA.
                                                   “ Domestic violence is so
have had the crime officially registered
and whom the police have classified as             common, so diverse in its                 We are examining the scope for giving
being subjected to domestic violence.              manifestations”                           more specialist training to some of our
                                                                                             volunteers, and are also exploring how
Police are recognising domestic violence       At Victim Support we use our 6,000            victims can be helped better outside the
more than they did in the past. In             volunteers to help victims of domestic        home. Many domestic violence incidents
2008/09 there were, in England and             violence every day: domestic violence         may seem minor compared to murder or
Wales, 63, 819 prosecutions for domestic       victims are some of the people who need       rape: average sentences for those prose-
violence. The introduction of specialist       the most emotional support, but also          cuted are for the most part light, the
domestic violence courts and multi-            practical help to protect them from the       most common being bind-overs or fines.
agency risk assessment conferences has         perpetrator. We also employ around 72         But when such violence is not tackled it
meant that the success rate of prosecu-        Independent Domestic Violence Advo-           often escalates. It can lead to rape and
tions is getting much higher – 68 per cent     cates, specialists who deal with the most     sometimes murder. Domestic violence is
in 2008/09 compared to less than half in       horrific cases. But there are still gaps in   so common, so diverse in its manifesta-
2005. One of the biggest problems facing       our service which we are taking steps to      tions and such a major part of many
victims of domestic violence is the lack       fill. Volunteers are not able to help the     women’s lives.
    bright blue
     progressive > conservative


Shared By: