London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Gender Equality Charter Launch

Gender-Equality-585x275-300x141Whoop! Pretty excited about the Gender Equality Charter being launched on 10 March 2016… It’s been a year of consulting and talking, learning, persuading but I think this is pretty cool. Here is the press release from LBBD or you can read more here.

An east London council has made history by becoming the first local authority in the country to adopt a Gender Equality Charter.

The Cabinet at Barking and Dagenham, where the actions of Ford machinists Rose Boland, Eillen Pullen, Vera Sime, Gwen Davis and Sheila Douglass changed labour relations, last night adopted a Gender Equality Charter and called on local partners to support the initiative.

The charter will support everyone in achieving their full potential and have more influence over decisions affecting their lives. It places a strong emphasis on making sure that all genders have the same chance of success.

It has been developed through consultation with the community and focuses on four themes; access to power and representation in public life; economic inequality and impact of caring responsibilities; culture including gender stereotyping; and, violence against women.

It reflects not only the national issues that impact on gender equality but, more importantly, prioritises the issues and challenges identified locally.

Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Councillor Darren Rodwell, said: “I am proud to be the Leader of a council that is delivering ground breaking work on gender equality.

“Our borough has a proud history of promoting gender equality – from the 18th Century writer and philosopher, Mary Wollstonecraft, and the early suffragette movement, to the workers of Fords who helped secure the equal pay legislation we enjoy today.

“The charter will help make sure the council and its partners make a demonstrable difference to tackling gender inequality and support everyone to achieve their full potential regardless of their gender.  I believe this will inspire civic pride and help us to build one borough and one community.”

Councillor Afolasade Bright, the Council’s Equality Champion, added: “The council has a vision to tackle equality issues relating to each of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act, and is starting with gender equality – which affects everyone.

“In particular, tackling the issues faced by women, girls and the transgender community in the 21st Century needs the active support and participation of everyone, especially men and boys.

The Gender Equality Charter will be launched at an event on 10 March in Barking Town Hall, and will be the centrepiece of the council’s second annual, Women’s Empowerment Month.

Gender and identity at Archbishop’s Holgate School, York

It is always great to have a whole day to work with students, so I was really excited to go up robin-thicke-blurred-lines_13to York and to the Archbishop’s Holgate School. We started with a whole year assembly on gender and gender identity. We talked about sexuality and gender stereotypes using Disney as a prime example. For too long Disney films have produced one dimensional women who rely on men to save them and men whose job it is to go around beating baddies, it was great to be able answer questions about what the difference is between transexuals and transvestites (thanks to Eddie Izzard for support!)

I had had the next two sessions with a group of female students who were really engaged. We lookesnoop-dogg-snoop-dogg-who-is-snoop-dogg-feat-snoop-dogg-snoop-doggy-dogg-songs-by-snoop-dogg-snoop-dogg-music-new-snoop-doggd at relationship progression – from holding hands to having a baby and everything in between. The students got to choose their own relationship progression and discuss it with friends.  We looked at consent and role-played saying no and then the students thought up some great ways to say no pressure from other people. Finally we looked at women in the media – looking at the male gaze and then using that to think about when people post pictures of themselves online.

With the lads we looked at sexual name calling – what do words like ‘slut’ and ‘bitch’ really mean? Why do we use them? We examined the issue of sexual bullying and harassment in the workplace and the consequences it has to your career.  We talked about consent like with the female students and then finally examined porn and the impact it might have on how we feel about our bodies and our sex lives.

It was great to have good long sessions with these young people as it can take a long time to get them to open up around sensitive issues. Thanks for having me Holgate!

Feminist economics at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

I was delighted to be asked to come and discuss feminist economics at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in York. I did two sessions – the first was a general talk about the ways in which gender interacts with the economy, you can see that session captured in the video below. The second was a session for the policy staff who asked a lot of tough questions! We looked more specifically at some of the measures the Women’s Budget Group advocate for in order to create a more equal society.

Great to be up in York with you all!

Women in the media workshop – Highbury Grove School

advert montageToday I’m running a workshop at Highbury Grove School, London on women in the media. This is obviously a broad topic and a lot to cover but in the end I decided to focus on advertising. The aim is to leave these young women of an understanding of how the advertising industry works. How it feeds on our aspirations and insecurities and uses them to make us buy stuff.

Although humans will always aspire to be better than they are. We can temper our expectations and understand what impact the beauty industry has on our self perception.

I’m also going to be looking at how magazines place adverts next to articles exploring these ‘issues’. I want to teach them a healthy cynicism about advertising. We’ll also look at photoshop using this video:

Osborne’s recovery is an illusion, women still feel the pinch

Women’s Budget Group press release on the Autumn Financial Statementwomen & economic recovery cartoon

George Osborne claims Britain’s economy is on the up, but people are still struggling to cope with low wages, a rising cost of living, and a dramatic decrease in social security. Women are feeling the pinch more than most, and the Autumn Financial Statement does little to alleviate the pain.

Women’s unemployment has fallen by less than 4% since 2011, half as fast as men’s (9%). Real earnings are not recovering; instead they have continued to fall for both men (0.4 % for gross hourly earnings) and for women 0.7%. Progress on closing the gender pay gap has also stalled.

Yet again the Chancellor has focussed only on investment in physical infrastructure and said nothing about investing in care services for children, elderly, and disabled people. Making long-term plans investment in social infrastructure is just as important for the long-term health of the country. The cuts in spending continue with a further £3 billion over the next three years.

The £700m given away on the married couples tax allowance would be better spent on elsewhere. Only 18% of families with children will benefit from this measure. This money will go to the higher earner, the vast majority of whom are men, which will worsen income inequality within married couples.

Professor Diane Elson, chair of the Women’s Budget Group, said: “The chancellor talks of recovery but it to doesn’t feel like it to most people with real earnings still falling. The Autumn Financial Statement does nothing to ensure a recovery that supports gender equality”

The WBG’s Sue Himmelweit said: “Transferable Tax Allowances are a bad idea and we concerned to hear the Chancellor plans to build on them. Money given away on the married couples tax allowance would be better spent on real social priorities. One of these would be to extend help with unaffordable childcare costs to the lowest earners among families on Universal Credit, a measure that would cost just £200m.”

 

ENDS.

For further comment, please contact:

Sue Himmelweit : 07963951333

Jerome De Henua: 07860556254

The Women’s Budget Group is a network of over 200 academics and activists. For more information, please visit www.wbg.org.uk or contact Amy Watson (admin@wbg.org.uk) WBG Coordinator

NOTE: An in-depth analysis of the impact of the Transferable Tax Allowances will be published by Women’s Budget Group on Saturday 7th December 2013.