international women's day 2011

Archive for the ‘Wales’ Category

for International Women’s Day the usual luvvies implore us to fight for oppressed womanhood all over the world.

They include Annie Lennox, activist, feminist and multi-millionaire; Emma Thompson, award-winning actress; Monica Ali, best-selling author, and Mariella Frostrup, glamorous telly and radio presenter, who told a recent interviewer: ‘I’m always tempted by money.’

They’re regularly off to Malawi or Liberia, Rwanda or Mozambique, photographed with groups of grateful villagers while looking suitably concerned in their eco-friendly bushwear.

Happy International Women’s Day! George Osborne has rapidly raised womens’ retirement age and Lord Sugar says bosses should be allowed to quiz employees about their plans for babies

Of course, the plight of millions of women in the third world is appalling — Aids, female circumcision, rape and poverty blight their existence. But would any of these high-profile female campaigners consider fighting for desperate women here in Blighty?

Many of us lead comfortable lives, but hundreds of thousands do not. Equality and opportunity are meaningless as far as they’re concerned. These celebrity feminists could try scheduling a visit to an NHS ward where every single day, thousands of ignored female pensioners lie quietly dying of starvation because there’s nobody to feed them. And with the NHS about to shed 50,000 jobs, the situation is unlikely to improve.

A recent report revealed the shocking statistic that two-thirds of elderly patients admitted to NHS hospitals do not receive adequate care, and many die completely unnecessarily after surgery.

These female campaigners could pass up a trip to South Africa and try a tour of care homes right here in England, where thousands of women with dementia sit for hour after hour in their own urine, many tied to their chairs in rooms with only the telly for company.

And what about the growing band of young women who left school with decent exam results in the past year and cannot get a job, forced to rely on benefits even though they’re desperate to work? Would any of these middle-class feminists consider employing one as an assistant?

The think-tank Demos calculates the number of jobless young people will grow to 1.2 million over the next five years, even if the economy recovers — double the rate of the Nineties. What kind of future is that? Is that equal opportunity for all?

Women at both ends of the spectrum — the very old and the young — are having a rough time in the UK right now. We have a Cabinet packed with millionaires, and in spite of David Cameron’s weasel words, they’re not very female-friendly.

George Osborne speeded up the rate at which a women’s pension age will rise from 60 to 66. Labour planned to do this gradually, but the Chancellor has decreed that by 2020 everyone will have to be 66 to get a pension, which means a huge number of women will have to stay at work for far longer than they had planned.

Women born before April 6, 1953, will be able to retire at 62, but those born after will end up paying an extra £13 billion in income tax and national insurance — an average of £8,400 each.

As the Saga group said: ‘Women are bearing the brunt of the changes. Pension policy always seems to be made by men, for men.’

When it comes to government, paradoxically, in some African countries, there are more women in power than in the UK. In Rwanda, in 2009, women won 56 per cent of the seats in the lower chamber and 35 per cent in the Upper House. In both Mozambique and Angola, women won 39 per cent of the seats in the lower house.

Many African states have women in high office. Here, just 22 per cent of seats in the Commons are held by women, and the Home Secretary has to combine her demanding job with that of Minister for Women and Equalities. That’s how seriously David Cameron takes women’s rights.

Finally, let’s celebrate International Women’s Day by reflecting on the wisdom of Lord (Alan) Sugar, who told the House of Lords last week he thought bosses should be able to grill female candidates about their plans for babies.

This is the bloke who said the best way to get round the laws protecting women in the workplace was by not employing them. Let’s all write to Lord Sugar and tell him when we plan to reproduce, when we’re going to take the Pill, and when we might have a spot of PMT.

Come to that, why don’t we email or Twitter him the dates of our menstrual cycle, if he’s that interested in gynaecology?

Edited from a longer article at

To mark the occasion of IWD, the Commission has developed a special web page to collate the work we have done to promote gender equality for women and includes a centenary message from our Commissioner, Kay Carberry, as well as special messages of support from the Home Secretary Theresa May and Shadow Minister for Equality, Yvette Cooper.

However if IWD is about celebration, it is not about complacency.

As the Commission’s triennial review report How Fair is Britain? and our forthcoming update to our Sex and Power publication show, we are still a long way from achieving equality. On too many issues, unacceptable inequalities remain: violence against women and girls, marked labour market segregation, the unequal division of care and multiple discrimination to name a few.’

To read her full statement and access messages of support from both the Home Secretary, Theresa May and Shadow Minister for Equality, Yvette Cooper, please visit our website at:

* New figures show shocking prevalence of domestic abuse across Wales
* Many services still unaware whether they will receive funding post-April

On 8th March, as women’s organisations across the world celebrated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (1), leading domestic abuse charity Welsh Women’s Aid (2) revealed the shocking extent of domestic abuse across Wales.

Statistics gathered on Valentine’s Day provide a one-day snapshot of the services delivered by Welsh Women’s Aid’s member groups and other domestic abuse service providers across Wales. But despite the clear demand for these life-saving services for survivors and their children, many services still have not yet been informed whether they will receive funding beyond the end of March.

On one day in Wales (3):
* 211 women were living in refuges run by Welsh Women’s Aid’s member organisations, with a total of 167 dependant children
* 40 of the children and young people* living in refuges were, or had previously been, on the Child Protection Register
* This included 1 baby who was born to a woman accommodated in refuge, and placed straight onto the Child Protection Register
* 1701 women were receiving community-based support, with a further 512 on waiting lists
* 1453 children and young people were receiving community-based support, with a further 338 on waiting lists. 97 of these children were on the Child Protection Register.
* 90 women and 11 children and young people contacted Welsh Women’s Aid’s member organisations for the first time.

Paula Hardy, Chief Executive Officer of Welsh Women’s Aid, said:

The 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reflect upon the huge amount of progress made – including thousands of lives saved and re-built with the assistance of specialist services such as Women’s Aid since the establishment of the first refuges in the 1970s.

But it is also a time to take stock and to realise how far society still has to go before violence against women and girls is eradicated. In England and Wales, 2 women are killed every week by their partner or ex-partner (4). Our Valentine’s Day statistics are a snapshot of just one day – so while the results are harrowing, they are an underestimate of the real prevalence of domestic abuse in Wales.

Specialist support services are necessary to enable survivors to rebuild their lives. If these services are cut, lives will be put at risk. Coupled with the proposed devastating cuts to Legal Aid, and closures in other services such as Citizens Advice Bureaux, we are deeply concerned that the safety of women and children will be compromised. Women’s organisations have had to grow accustomed to eleventh-hour confirmation of funding, and to operating life-saving services on a shoestring. But now more than ever, it is vital that funders recognize that these services are not a luxury – they’re absolutely essential for thousands of women and children across Wales.”


    (1) International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women. First celebrated in 1911, this year is the Global Centenary Year. Numerous events will take place across Wales – see
    (2) Welsh Women’s Aid is the leading national domestic abuse organisation in Wales, with a network of 31 member groups situated all over Wales, who provide direct services to women and children who have experienced domestic abuse. WWA provides specialist support to our member groups, in addition to informing and challenging national policy on their behalf. WWA also manages the Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline, a national, 24-hour, freephone, bilingual and gender-neutral helpline for anyone experiencing or wanting more information on domestic abuse: 0808 80 10 800, .
    (3) Statistics gathered by Welsh Women’s Aid from 14th February 2011, from our 31 member organisations. Statistics on community-based support were gathered from our member organizations in addition to Hafan Cymru, Caerphilly Women’s Services and Montgomeryshire Family Crisis Centre.
    (4) British Crime Survey, 2004.

For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact Hannah Austin on 02920 390874 or Paula Hardy on 07766 524489.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, which took place this year on the 8th of March, a free event is being held in Cardiff’s County Hall on the 28th of March 2011 to celebrate the promotion of gender equality and women’s achievements over the last 100 years.

“This will be invaluable for individuals or organisations that work hard to promote gender equality,” said Hanna Miyir, of the Welsh NGO, Cyfanfyd, that is organising the event. “The empowerment of women is central to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and we intend to show that it is something that can be worked towards on both a local and a global stage.”

The event will include presentations from local organisations on the topic of women’s rights and gender equality, performances and information stands as well as a keynote speech from Welsh Woman of the Year 1996-97, Baroness Ilora Finlay of Llandaff.

Baroness Finlay is well renowned for her extensive work in palliative medicine and has been actively involved in promoting ‘medical humanities’, encouraging the integration of the arts into health care thinking. She is an inspirational figure whose achievements serve to highlight women’s contribution to healthcare development.

The event is open to everyone and is being held between 10.30am and 3.00pm on the 28th of March 2011 in Cardiff’s County Hall.

While this is a free event, places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come first-serve basis. To book a place, please contact Lorraine Fletcher at

To find out more, please contact Hanna Miyir on 209 2066 8999 or at


This is a post to mark International Women’s Day. Join the International Women’s Week and Mothering Sunday Mothers’ March this Sunday:

8th March is International Women’s Day. For one hundred years, women and men all over the world, from Germany to Ghana, from Uganda to the UK, have used the 8th of March to celebrate the achievements of women past, present, and future. Historically this day has also been a time for feminists and all those who believe in gender equality to consider the challenges and struggles we still face. This year certainly gives us pause for thought.

The history of the struggle for gender equality in the UK, and the rise of the welfare state are bound together. Just as campaigners for gender equality helped bring about the creation and expansion of the welfare state, the position of women in our society has improved because of it. The government’s unprecedented and unjustified attacks on the state inevitably therefore have a disproportionate impact on women.

The government insist that ‘we’re all in it together’ and that the distribution of the cuts will be ‘fair’. This is simply not true. They choose to focus the cuts on people who are already the most vulnerable in our society, on those who already face structural and historical disadvantages. The government may have neglected their duty to investigate the impact of legislation on gender inequality, but other people have not, and the results show that women will face a disproportionate burden.

Highlighting the impact of the cuts on women is not divisive and does not disregard the needs of everybody else in society. This was well demonstrated and articulated by the people who organised UK Uncut’s feminist bail-in, and by the protesters who attended, half of whom were men. Feminism, and the struggle for gender equality, are inclusive and can be understood as involving everybody, regardless of gender, in a joint struggle for equality. Drawing attention to the impact on women is a reflection of statistical evidence. It is a fact that women, in general, will be worse affected than men. It is important to know this if we are to understand what the cuts really mean and relate that to the people who will be affected.

Women will, in general, be hit harder than men for a number of reasons. As the Fawcett Society points out, they make up 65% of the public sector workforce and will therefore be hit hardest by job cuts. They rely more heavily on public services such as the NHS, for reasons such as pregnancy and longer life expectancy. We can also expect cuts to many women specific services such as refuges from domestic violence and support services for rape victims. To rub salt into the wound, women will also be expected to bridge the gap where childcare and services for the elderly are removed, directly affecting their ability to work. They are also due to lose out heavily from changes to the benefit system – single mothers will lose 18.5 per cent of their net income; female single pensioners will lose 11.7 per cent. The repercussions of these cuts can be seen already. By the end of last year the number of unemployed women topped the one million mark. Recent figures show that the number of women aged 25-49 on jobseeker’s allowance is now at its highest since records began in 1997. The evidence goes on and on and on.

Still think we’re all in it together? These cuts are not an economic necessity, they are a political choice. UK Uncut has helped to show that there are many alternatives to the government’s shock and awe austerity programme. Closing the tax loopholes which allow the super-rich to dodge their responsibilities is one alternative. Making the banks pay for the crisis they caused is another.

If we want to stop the government, and if we want a fairer society, we have to stand up for ourselves. We can draw on a rich history of ordinary people who have organised, struggled and fought for their rights and their ideals. Like the women who did whatever it took to win the right to vote. Like the brave female Ford workers who took industrial action to win the right to equal pay. Like the UK Uncut protesters who transformed a high street bank into a crèche, highlighting cuts to childrens’ services.

This International Women’s Day let us honour and remember all of those women who have fought and continue to fight for gender equality and let’s promise to protect and build on their victories.

See you on the high streets.

This survey of UK adults, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of EQUALS – a coalition of agencies including ActionAid, Amnesty International, the Fawcett Society and Women’s Aid – reveals significant levels of inequality that still exist between men and women in the UK. The survey results are released on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

The survey sought to establish attitudes towards men and women in the public and private arena; determining whether gender stereotypes are still present today in the workplace and the home. It also sought to establish the biggest challenges facing women in Britain today, find out whether women are thought to be treated equally in our society and measure personal experiences of sexist remarks or behaviour.
Results show that gender stereotypes remain a strong force for both men and women in the workplace and in the home. Women are found to be shouldering a good deal of responsibility for managing the home and looking after the family but encouragingly, findings also reveal that a majority of UK adults – both men and women – aspire to greater equality by stating that many household tasks should be shared equally between men and women.

When asked what are the two biggest challenges facing women in Britain today, ‘balancing family and work’ was cited by almost six in ten people (58%). This was the most frequent answer given by men and women. From a female perspective, the second biggest challenge facing women is thought to be ‘the gap in pay between men and women’ (cited by 23% of females). From a male perspective, the second biggest challenge facing women is thought to be ‘being judged on their appearance rather than what they do’ (cited by 22% of males).

Almost half (47%) of women in in the UK do not believe they are treated equally to men with only around a third (34%) believing they are treated equally. On this measure, men and women have almost reversed views. Only around a third (35%) of men do not believe that women are treated equally with just over half (52%) believing women are treated equally.

The survey also measured personal experiences of sexist remarks or sexist behaviour. Sixty per cent of young women (aged 15-30) surveyed have experienced sexist remarks and other forms of sexist behaviour whilst going about their daily lives, including being whistled at, having sexist comments directed at them, being touched inappropriately or being discriminated against because of their gender. The survey revealed that British women experienced this across a variety of places with the most likely being at work, in a pub, bar or club, at school, college or university and in the street. Fewer young men have experienced such comments or behaviour (20%) and their reaction to it is quite different. Whilst these young men are more likely to have felt amused the last time this happened to them, the young women are more likely to have felt angry.

* Download the topline results (PDF)
* Download the data tables representing the full sample (PDF)
* Download the data tabls presenting the results for females in the sample (PDF)
* Download the data tables presenting the results for males in the sample (PDF)

Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,028 adults aged 15+ across the UK. Interviews were conducted face-to-face over the period 11-17 February 2011. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

The University of Glamorgan has produced a series of short online lectures with some of its finest academics to celebrate International Women’s Day.

The academics have chosen a topic of their choice, to tie in with this year’s International Women’s Day theme of ‘Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women’.

Christine Atkinson, who is Head of the University’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Hub, talks about differing motivations of women entrepreneurs and the way that they are measured against a male norm.

Claudia Corsetti discusses the barriers that lone working mothers face and how the public sphere invades the private sphere and ‘care’ becomes episodic.

Dr Timothy Jones, co-director of the University’s Centre for Gender Studies in Wales, discusses how the early suffragette movement was closely linked with religious movements and how white middle-class women can be accused of speaking for others.

Dr Diana Wallace discusses how the historical novel has allowed women access to history.

Dr Kathryn Ringwald launches the ’100 years, 100 days, 1000 voices’ project which asks women to talk about their experiences in Wales throughout the years.

To watch the online talks go to

red women's symbold with continents superimposed repeatd 5 times

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