UN calls on UK to tackle sexism

// 2 September 2008

The UN has called for the government to do more to tackle sexism, in a damning report on sex discrimination in the UK, reports The Independent.

Unfortunately I can’t find the report. However, as the Independent tells it, the report calls attention to violence against women, women’s lack of political representation, segregation of women and men in the workplace, pay inequality and the high number of women in prison on minor offences:

The report also highlights the treatment of women in prison. The authors say too many women are being sent to jail for failing to pay their TV licences or committing other minor offences.

The committee urges the Government to “intensify its efforts to reduce the number of women in conflict with the law, including through targeted prevention programmes aimed at addressing the causes of women’s criminality.”

And more generally:

British women are under-represented in Parliament, paid less than men at work and increasingly being sent to prison for committing minor offences, a report on sex discrimination has found. The report, which was published by an influential committee of the United Nations, paints a damning picture of daily life for women living in the UK who continue to fight for a fairer deal in society.

Calling on Britain to do more to improve the standing of women, the committee argues for “benchmarks and concrete timetables” to increase the number of women in political and public life and to use “special measures” to promote women to positions of leadership. Only one in five members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords is a woman.

The UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is also critical of what it describes as “gender segregation” in the workplace. In its report it says that its members are concerned about the “persistence of occupational segregation between women and men in the labour market and the continuing pay gap, one of the highest in Europe”.

The average hourly earnings of full-time female employees amount to approximately 83 per cent of men’s earnings, according to the findings. In its report, the UN also highlights the need for greater measures to tackle violence against women and the practice of forced marriages.

Comments From You

C Smith // Posted 3 September 2008 at 11:03 am

Just in case anyones interested I think I found the said documents here: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws41.htm.

I must admit I havent had time to read them properly but under CEDAW/C/UK/Q/6 (e for english docs) there are question to the UK.

CEDAW/C/UK/Q/6/Add.1 (e for english docs)are the answers and the last column is the recommendations made by the commitee to the UK.

Now I really must get back to work.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 3 September 2008 at 11:20 am

Another very useful link is this one. It is contained within The Women’s Resource Centre website. The link itself has details of CEDAW’s scathing report on UK government’s continuing failure to address issues concerning women’s rights. This includes male violence against women, sexism and the on-going persistence of re-defining policy within gender neutral terms which effectively ensures policy continues to be defined from a male-centered standpoint.


Tony Moll // Posted 3 September 2008 at 11:31 am

“However, as the Independent tells it, the report calls attention to violence against women”

The UK does not condone violence against women. It does however have a problem with enforcing its laws. Battered women don’t call the police as often enough and rape is notoriously hard to prove in court.

“women’s lack of political representation”

Mps are elected by men are women in their constituency. Women vote are therefore represented. There is a lack of female participation but that is another chapter altogether.

“segregation of women and men in the workplace”

Segregation is enforced separation. If barbers are mostly male and hairdressers mostly female that is not segregation.

“pay inequality”

This becomes an injustice only if this is due to actual discrimination. I believe there is some, but certainly not of the magnitude that should excite the UN.

“the high number of women in prison on minor offences”

Unless the UN wants to advice the UK on crime policy generally, a report on sexism should focus on whether or not women are punished more for the same crime than men. The opposite is the case.

Brian Hardy // Posted 7 January 2009 at 2:17 pm

Hi I am PhD researcher, looking at entrepreneurial intent in 16-18 Further Education students. Following on from the number of ‘beauty/hairdressing’ students emerging from colleges. Is the male barber disappearing to be replaced by women? I would very much appreciate any data on this.


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