New feature: Cuts? Women will take them on the chin

// 10 November 2010

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Government spending cuts will hit women the hardest, with the most marginalised suffering the most. Fionnuala Murphy from the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation breaks it down

On the morning of Wednesday 20 October if you Googled “women and cuts” you got ads for hair models on Gumtree and the latest special offers from Toni & Guy. By Friday of the Scissors.jpgsame week that very same search would tell you that, of the £8.5 billion which the government plans to raise by cutting direct benefits to individuals, two thirds will come from women’s pockets. A lot can change in a day.

Yvette Cooper says that changes to rules on childcare and working tax credit could force mothers who want to continue working – and already earn significantly less than men – to stay at home. Quoted in The Guardian, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, describes the comprehensive spending review as “the biggest reversal of women’s opportunities and economic independence” since World War 1.

It’s not only reductions in benefits and tax credits that will hit women hard. Cuts to public services will hurt too. Outraged Tweets abound at the news that two thirds of the 500,000 public sector workers about to lose their jobs are women, but there is more to it than that. The fact is women tend to rely on public services more than men, and will feel their loss more acutely.

A few weeks ago I went to my local family planning clinic (which used to open twice a week from 6.00-8.30pm and was always over-subscribed) only to be told that it had closed and from now on I would have to go to the GP for contraception. This money-saving initiative leaves working women like me with the choice of taking time off work to get repeat prescriptions of the pill or dealing with unwanted pregnancy.

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