In today’s article, Imogen Tyreman focusses on how the cuts have had an inordinate impact on women and tells us of the steps we need to take to remedy the situation.
The Conservative government have put through a lot of policies while pretending to look the other way, calling itself a government of the people while it cuts social securities, tax credits, and disability allowances. Yet, it always seems to be women who are hit the hardest, women who are called upon to suffer a bit more (they probably think we’re used to it after years of oppression) so we can ‘save’ money and make it out of the deficit.
Despite Cameron promising to end the gender pay gap in a generation, the government have just tried to introduce a new contract for junior doctors which will, if introduced, widen both the gender pay gap and the gender cost gap (how much more women will have to pay for services such as child care).
Leading health organisations have criticised the contract as endorsing gender inequality. Yet, the government’s equality assessment of it has said that the adverse affect it will have on women can be ‘comfortably justified’; and is just a ‘proportionate means to an end’
If only this was the first time the government viewed women in this way- as commodities whose well being can be ignored so long as the numbers add up and targets are reached. But there is a disturbing track record of government policy hitting women the hardest- and it’s not hard to track.
In terms of work, twice as many women as men have lost their jobs since 2010. Furthermore, women reaching retirement age have faced a struggle having not been notified of changes to their pension. Many had accepted redundancy or retirement expecting to be paid the full amount, and then found they had to work more just to be able to afford a place to live.
9/10 single parents are women, so cuts to child benefits affect women the most. Additionally, if women have a third child through rape, they must prove this was the case to receive money, as if going through it once wasn’t hard enough. Finally, if you’re living on a low income, you do not qualify for free childcare, which is reserved for ‘working families’.
Overall, 86% of the net savings made due to welfare cuts have been at the expense of women. Policies like the above, and many others that the government have introduced have all been at the expense of women. Women are targeted as a part of society who can shoulder the cuts for the foreseeable future, with any claim that this is discrimination brushed aside as a ‘necessary evil’.
We need to start asking ourselves how much longer will we be the subjects of these cuts? It’s unacceptable that even with the many demonstrations going on we still aren’t being listened to, and if cuts continue like they have, it’s hard to see the situation getting better any time soon. But I for one do not want to have to wait another 4 years before getting a say in what happens. That’s why I think it’s so important to put effort into campaigning for Labour and for women’s organisations across the country, making sure our voices aren’t just heard but are listened to.
*NB: we’ve probably past this point actually