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Labour must fight for women – and not just one day a year

It’s nearly three years since this government was formed, and every day we see more evidence to shred Osborne’s myth that we’re “all in this together”. With a cabinet whose combined personal wealth is around £70 million, it’s hardly surprising that the poorest are bearing the brunt of austerity while millionaires – like themselves – are getting a tax cut.

This government is shockingly unrepresentative: of ordinary working people, of ethnic minorities, of disabled people – and of women. Indeed, there are only four women in the current cabinet. And the fact that Eton is all-boys is no excuse.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and there is an embarrassingly long list of issues concerning sexism and discrimination that need to be tackled. One of them, which often goes unrecognised, is how austerity disproportionately affects women.

Working women are particularly under threat as they hold more than two thirds of all public sector jobs. A study by the GMB union in 2012 showed that in 36 councils in England and Wales, all job losses were among females. Of the 210,000 jobs lost in the public sector since 2010, more than 68% were among women. Why? Because our male-dominated, public school educated cabinet are engaged in an ideological attack on the public sector.

However, austerity doesn’t just affect women in terms of job losses. State funded services that directly help women are rapidly being cut such as those that protect victims of domestic violence. The result of this is that an unprecedented number of women are being turned away from refuge shelters; around 320 are refused admission each day. Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise when the funding for these services fell by almost a third between 2011 and 2012.

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex”, Karl Marx rightly observed. Labour is the party of equality and we must strive to do more than merely pay lip service to gender equality for one day a year. Let the Tory party remain an old boys club. The Labour Party will secure a better deal for women in this country by opposing cruel austerity measures, but also by ensuring that more women play an active role and take on responsibility in our party.

One Comment

  1. Chris says:

    If Labour fights for the working class then working class women will be taken care of as a matter of course. Socialism is all we need.

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