Election called: What About Women?
Lynne Miles // 6 April 2010
Well as you’ll no doubt have heard, the election was called today and will be held on May 6th as expected. In the run up to the big day, Fawcett have been doing some really interesting campaigning tracking the policies of the main parties and how they pan out for women.
Polling carried out for Fawcett shows that whilst 73% of voters want spending policies that don’t disproportionately disadvantage women, still 44% of all voters and 49% of female voters think women’s views are not being properly considered on key election issues, particularly those related to tax and spend.
They also produced this handy briefing on economic issues for budget week (yes, I am behind on my blogging…!) which is worth reproducing:
So what do we think so far?
We are still very concerned that as yet none of the parties has committed to undertaking a gender impact assessment of the budget/ deficit cutting plans. If elected to government, this will not only be key to ensuring that women are not unequally disadvantaged, it will also be a requirement under the gender equality duty. We will be pressing all the parties on this point, especially at the time when failure to do this could see a backwards move for many women’s equality; particularly the most vulnerable.
In terms of the particular parties’ answers on the economy to date, all had positive and negative points. Here are some of them:
Good – proposed pension reforms that mean carers will now qualify for a basic state pension, narrowing the gap in pension entitlement between women and men and progressive tax proposals (e.g. higher rates for higher earners) which support greater economic equality for women.
Could do better – no commitment to restore link between earnings and state pensions, a commitment to “half the deficit fairly” is not enough detail on how they would guard against disproportionately impacting women. They talk a lot about what they have done but not enough about what next.
Good – propose to restore the link between earnings and state pensions which would increase income of those women who have pensions, commitment to retain some benefits that women rely on including child benefit
Could do better – their proposals to only make companies do gender pay audits once found guilty of pay discrimination won’t stop it happening in the first place and offering respite services to carers is not enough, given their economic contribution. They don’t even mention their policy to introduce a marriage tax allowance which Fawcett would not support for a wide range of reasons.
Good – A more progressive tax system that would benefit women who are more likely to be in lower paying jobs and they support mandatory equal pay audit for all but the smallest companies.
Could do better – Same problem as the Conservatives in not doing more to recognise carers’ contributions by, for example, ensuring they are credited in their pensions for their contributions to the economy. Their commitment to “hardwire fairness” doesn’t tell us how they will ensure women employees and users of key public services will not bear the brunt of any cuts.
More detail on these answers and answers from other political parties are available here.