UK coalition has a “blind spot” on women and equality
Summary of story from The Guardian, May 20, 2011.
The Uk coalition government has a “blind spot” when it comes to women and equal opportunities, according to Labour MPs.
A group are now attempting to set up a parliamentary committee to audit government policies on women and equality, and potential discriminatory effects on women.
They are confident that, if put it to a vote, the proposal would pass with a majority.
Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire, said an equality committee would ensure women’s issues were high on the agenda. Claire Perry, the Tory MP for Devizes, said it sounded “extremely sensible”.
Controversial comments in recent weeks, including the prime minister’s “Calm down dear” comment (see WVoN story) and Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke’s comments on rape (see WVoN story) have added fuel to the fire.
Addressing Clarke’s comments, Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, said they showed a lack of understanding of gender issues across the government.
These incidents are however only part of the government’s “blind spot” on women, according to Cooper:
“This is not just about revealing remarks – be it from the justice secretary or the prime minister. Women are losing out every time from government policies,” she said.
“There is a toxic mix of paternalistic Toryism and laissez-faire liberalism at the heart of the government which hits women hard.
“Some still subscribe to the traditional Tory view of women and family life, and there is a deep and widespread hostility to state or public sector action – from tax credits to childcare – which help women get on.
“The result is that for the first time in generations, the clock is being turned back on women’s equality.”
The paper also looks at the specific effect of the coalition’s policies on women in terms of social care, mothers’ and child benefits, education and claiming benefits as well as the macho culture in parliament.