This was posted on our Facebook page not long ago:
This week a government memo detailing plans for women-friendly policies was leaked to the media. This document considered plans to make changes to benefits so that women would be the sole receiver in a household of universal credit payments and front-loaded child benefit so that more money is given when children are younger. Other suggestions included banning advertising to children; introducing personal budgets to enable women to choose their own maternity services; criminalising forced marriage and holding a summit for women in business. While some of these suggestions reek of tokenism and others have a disagreeable ideology behind them (shopping around for health services?), the emphasis on women tailored policy is welcome, or at least would be welcome if it wasn’t so blatantly a cynical exercise in vote-chasing.
This memo follows the realisation by the government that recent cutbacks had hit women disproportionately hard as well as a previously leaked memo from the government which called for abolishing maternity payments on the basis that it hindered economic recovery. These have conspired to hit the government where it hurts the most: right in the votes. Recent polls have put support amongst young women for the Conservatives falling from 30% to 18% over the last year.
Although some of these suggested polices are objectively pro-women, the vote-grabbing impetus for them makes me slightly uneasy. I seriously doubt these are well thought out ideas that act against entrenched gender equality but are instead big on rhetoric and short on impact.
Improving the position of women involves a lot more than dis-jointed policies about school holidays and child benefit. Empowering women and making our country a more equal place is an incremental process that involves fundamental changes about who we are as a society.
So, in the spirit of JFK’s “think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” shtick I have graciously offered my services by devising my own list of women-focused polices. In post-devolution Scotland this wish list is better directed at our very own SNP majority government. Please join me in writing an open letter to the Scottish government as to what changes we would like to see change in our country. Answers on a postcard so far:
Here’s a link to an interesting blog post about the Guardian and its recent decision to ignore the statistics for rape conviction rates, in favour of publishing a more positive – though utterly misleading – statistic which lumps statistics for all ‘sexual offenses’ together.
This means that the Guardian will publish the rate conviction rate at a still-paltry 13%, rather than then actual 6.5% at which it stands.