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Get women onto the Brexit agenda


Brexit, six questions, Fawcett Society, #FaceHerFuture, women's rights, Withdrawal Agreement, Women are still missing from the government’s agenda on Brexit.

On 26 June 2018, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EUWA) received Royal Assent, following almost eight months of debate in Parliament.

Over the course of the Bill’s passage through Parliament, the #FaceHerFuture coalition campaigned for key priorities areas including safeguarding employment, equality and human rights, replicating cooperative mechanisms and funding on violence against women and girls, and ensuring Parliament has the information it needs to keep pace with the European Union.

During the House of Commons and House of Lords committee stages, the coalition circulated briefings to all MPs calling for their support.

The coalition was successful in getting cross-party support from a number of MPs and peers who either signed the amendments the coalition was leading on or spoke in favour of the issues the coalition raised.

During the House of Commons committee stage, an important concession in relation to equality law was secured, with the support of Maria Miller MP. The amendment requires Ministers who are exercising their powers under particular clauses to make a statement before a draft instrument is made. This includes whether the instrument amends, repeals or revokes any provision of equalities legislation.

As a member of the Brexit Civil Society Alliance, the Fawcett Society has also worked collectively with other civil society organisations to raise concerns about delegated legislation and the need to enhance parliamentary scrutiny.

The Fawcett Society therefore welcomed the government’s introduction of a sifting committee – the European Statutory Instruments Committee – which will examine each government proposal for a “negative procedure” statutory instrument, and recommend whether it should be upgraded to the “affirmative” procedure, whereby the proposed legislation has to be approved by a vote in both Houses.

But following the publication of the Withdrawal Agreement, it is clear that women are still missing from the government’s agenda on Brexit.

For while the Agreement does reference some directives on women’s rights in the appendix, there is no reference to women in the main body of the text.

This Fawcett Society briefing seeks to reaffirm and set out primary areas of concern and the questions that remain for women.

There are six such questions:

1 – What is the government doing to ensure our rights as set out in equality, employment and human rights legislation are protected?

2 – How will the UK replicate violence against women and girls (VAWG) protections and sustain funding currently provided by the EU?

3 – What measures will the government be taking to ensure we are keeping pace with the EU to maintain gender equality?

4 – How will the government ensure the EU Settlement Scheme works for vulnerable women and girls and what exemptions will be made for them?

5 – How will the government ensure that the economic impact of Brexit does not have serious implications for women?

6 – What is the government doing to ensure that women are represented at every level of the Brexit negotiation and transition process?

It is more important than ever that we all keep campaigning to defend the rights of women and girls from being weakened post-Brexit and set a positive agenda for progress.

There are two ways you can help.

You can Tweet any or all of the six questions to your MP, or support #FaceHerFuture by sharing this briefing with your MP.

To find and contact your MP via Twitter or their Facebook page, click here.

To find contact details for your MP and email them click here.

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