A Fair Deal for Women, is a coalition of women’s organisations that has called on the new prime minister to address key areas affecting women.
There are now more women in parliament than ever before, but what does the future hold for women under the new Conservative government? This campaign group has broken down the issues which need to be addressed to ensure the next 5 years offer women a fair deal. In light of the General Election results, what do the Conservative party pledges mean for women?
The Conservatives plan to eradicate the deficit by 2018 through spending cuts which disproportionately affect women.
Besides £12 billion in proposed unspecified welfare cuts, they proposed cutting income tax for 30 million people, which disproportionately benefits men over women. Policies like this have led to women paying off 79% (and men only 21%) of the deficit in the previous government. Ongoing austerity policies of this nature would see, yet again, the vast majority of deficit repayments coming from women’s pockets.
Does that sound like a fair deal?
The Conservatives have refused on many occasions to rule out cutting child benefit. We know that cuts to child benefit during the coalition pushed many women and children into poverty, with 1 in 5 mothers missing meals to feed their kids.
They have not made a clear commitment to ending low paid and insecure work for women, only outlining that they will ‘encourage organisations’ to pay the living wage ‘wherever they can afford it’. Yet, 1 in 4 women are already in low paid and insecure work, with 1 in 8 of them on zero hours contracts. Our worry is that further austerity policies, without specific plans to help women get stable work, will be detrimental to women’s fair and equal participation in the labour market.
Further austerity measures could see more women being pushed into poverty. Poverty and ill health are inextricably linked (of which there was conspicuously little discussion during the election campaign) yet there appears to be no suggestion of a gendered analysis of health policy. This is in spite of the fact that women live for longer in worse health than men, and are more likely to suffer from the most common chronic diseases. We know that women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, and are likely to neglect their own health due to the care responsibilities that fall disproportionately on them.
We need to work together to join the dots for an economic recovery that isn’t funded disproportionally from women’s pockets, and that doesn’t allow women’s equality to be rolled back.