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Tackling the challenges faced by working women

27 Feb , 2014  

Bex Bailey, Youth and Student Rep on Labour’s NEC, explores the challenges faced by women in the workplace:

Women are being routinely failed in their workplaces.

According to the TUC, a woman in work today is earning 15.7% less on average than men. In spite of this, the Government has decided not to fully implement measures passed by the last Labour government, which would have required employers to undertake pay audits, weakening efforts to ensure equal pay in the private sector.

Women are far more likely to be working in part-time jobs, where the pay gap not only increases but jobs are often characterised by low pay and poor promotion prospects. Changes to social care budgets are forcing more and more women to work part-time in order to care for children and family members, preventing women from taking up better paid work.

This wage discrepancy has lasting impacts, affecting women’s pensions and leading to a greater proportion of women living in poverty in old age.

David Cameron’s unfair policies have had a disproportionate impact on woman. The Fawcett Society found that, in 2013, the amount of women that had become unemployed since 2010 was almost three times the amount of men.

Under this Government, unemployment among UK women reached a 25 year high and we have seen the Government taken to court for failing to take the impact its policies would have on women into account.

The situation can potentially become worse if a woman becomes pregnant. The Labour Party has found that an estimated 50,000 women are losing their jobs while on maternity leave each year.

Discrimination against women isn’t limited to the factory floor; just four of the current FTSE 100 CEOs are women and whilst this statistic has caused plenty of handwringing by the Government they’ve refused to take any real action.

Sadly, sexism and sexual harassment are the reality for many working women but, thanks to this Government, justice now comes with a price; if a woman wants take a sexual harassment case to a tribunal she now has to pay £1,200 for the privilege. Again, the women most in need of support are having it taken away from them.

Labour in Government made huge strides in improving women’s position in the workplace – from introducing paternity leave in 2003 to the 2010 Equality Act, which helped to tackle discrimination in the workplace. The actions of this Tory-led Government are rolling back those achievements. It’s essential that a Labour Government is elected in 2015 to turn the tide and bring the changes needed to end workplace discrimination against women.

There’s a lot of work to do – from shared parental leave, which allows parents to choose who takes time off work and for how long, to getting more women on boards, to protecting the right of women in the workplace. Let’s get a Labour Government elected and get to work.

Bex tweets @BexBailey6

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