News roundup for May 2002

A round up of the months news, compiled by Catherine Redfern

, 16 May 2002

UK pay gap one of worst in Europe

BBC Report

A survey by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions has found that women from all countries in Europe are paid on average less than men. However, some countries have performed worse than others: for us, the news is that the pay gap in the UK is the fourth biggest in Europe. On average, UK women earn 24.1% less than men for every hour doing an equivalent job. The European average pay gap is 20.4%. The best performing countries were Luxemberg and Norway (where women earned 89% and 85% of what men earn, repectively), and worst was Austria, where women earned 67%. The UK came in fourth worst, with a percentage of 75.9%.

Female dentists encouraged to stay in work

BBC Report

This is an interesting contrast with the way a Doctor proposed to deal with the ‘problem’ of having a majority of women in a particular workforce (in last month’s news). There are a third more women working as dentists than men, and by 2005 more women than men will qualify as dentists. Many women will take career breaks to have children, so the government has announced that an annual allowance will be provided to them to help them to keep in touch with the developments in dentistry, and encourage them to come back to their career. The programme includes one-to-one advice and free access to educational courses. “Women are an increasing force in dentistry and this government is committed to enabling women to realise their potential in their chosen careers.” said HEalth minister Hazel Blears.

Support Ladyfest London!

Email Ladyfest London

Preparations for Ladyfest London are continuing apace, with plenty of benefit nights planned, all of the proceeds go towards the Ladyfest in August. On 16th May, band Kaito plus support Linus and Sewing Circle play at the Garage, Highbury Corner, London. Tickets cost £4 or £3 with flyer. On 24th May there is another club night at the Oak Bar, 79 Green Lanes, Newington Green, London featuring Dj Lolo, Dj Showshoe and Dj Irene. Tickets are £4.

What is Ladyfest? “Ladyfest London is a celebration of the achievements of women, primarily in music and the arts. It is community-based, democratically-organised and not-for-profit, with money raised being donated to women’s charities. Ladyfest London will be organised around several concerts of live music at venues in central London – confirmed to play are artists such as Electrelane and Angelica from the UK and The Gossip, The Haggard and The Hissyfits from the USA. However, it will also be a hugely varied affair, featuring art, film, spoken word, poetry and performance art as well as seminars and workshops on both art and politics. Although it is organised predominantly by women, it is important that Ladyfest convey its message to men too, and the festival is open to all. The main aims of Ladyfest London are to showcase the talents of women working in the creative arts, to build a sense of community among female artists/musicians/activists, and to give women a chance to participate in the organisation of a large-scale project.”

For more information on any aspect of Ladyfest London or benefit nights, contact: Amy Spencer Ladyfestlondon@hotmail.com Tel: 07946 707239

Silvermoon Bookshop rises from the ashes

Silvermoon women’s bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London which closed in November 2001 has been transferred onto the third floor of the massive nearby Foyles bookshop. The new Silvermoon room on the third floor is being billed as a “shop-within-a-shop” and has been decorated in funky blue and silver colours. It officially opened on 7th May and there is a rolling programme of talks and events, including visits by writers such as Nawal El Saadawi, Latifa, Lisa St Aubin de Teran, and a Charity gala with Dr. Maya Angelou. For more information, contact Jane Gregory on 020 7440 3227 or email silvermoon@foyles.co.uk .

Proposals to help victims of domestic violence

Proposals have been made to change the law to help victims of domestic abuse in court. Under existing laws, women can only take civil action in their own name. Under the new proposals, police would be able to bring civil actions on the victims behalf, and could ask judges to place restraining orders on abusive partners. Some police forces plan to pilot this in October 2002. MPs belive this would increase the number of convictions for domestic violence and make it easier for victims to testify against their partners and get justice.

Sharp rise in Caesarian births a cause for concern

The rate of Caesarian births in the UK is now double that of Scandinavia and almost equal to the US. Almost 20% more caesarians are performed than five years ago. In the 1950s, 3% of births involved surgery but now, 21.5% of births involve surgery. A spokesperson for the National Childbirth Trust said “We are extremely concerned by these new statistics”. Now, only 53% of births are ‘natural’, without any intervention (such as inducing labour, or surgical procedure). This has been put down to various factors, such as a lack of midwifery support, a tendency to overdiagnose potential problems with the baby, less resistance to surgery and a fear of legal action if a long labour is not halted.

Gay and unmarried couples may be able to adopt

The Government promised MPs a free vote on whether to extend the Adoption and Children Bill, to allow gay and unmarried couples to adopt. The Tories have said they will oppose the moves. Health Secretary Alan Milburn said “The objecitve is to increase the number of children to have the opportunity, through adoption, to grow up as part of a loving, stable and permanent family.” If the measures are passed by MPs, it would be up to the courts and adoption agencies to decide who is suitable to look after children.

Women’s lives better after menopause says report

BBC Report

The Jubilee Report examined the lifestyles of women over the age of 50 and found that 65% claimed they were happier, 75% said they had more fun, and 93% said they had more independence and choice.

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