CEDAW Report Suggests Equality Gains for Women Have Been Curbed by Coalition Cuts

A recent report suggests that coalition government cuts in the past five years have disproportionately affected women so much that they are in danger of actually undoing some of the progress that has been made in gender equality in Britain.


The report which is entitled “Women's Equality in the UK – A health check” was produced by the CEDAW Working Group. It represents the views of 42 differing groups who uphold women’s and human rights organisations. The report warns that some of the most vulnerable women, including the disabled, single mothers, and those in ethnic minority groups are those who will suffer most from these spending cuts. It claims that all women, excepting only the most well-off, are suffering more financially now than they were in 2008.

Current polls show lesser support from women for the conservatives than for labour, which might be because the austerity measures put in place by the government have cut jobs in the public sector as well as other services that support women. Some of the cuts affect funding for women-only services and legal aid, services which are vital for those who are suffering from discrimination and violence. The report also criticises welfare reforms that are detrimental to vulnerable female groups, poor healthcare support, the failure to properly look after female refugees and women seeking asylum, discrimination in the workplace and the general under-representation of women in politics.

The report explains the negative effects the goverment cuts are having on women and claims that the government are failing to comprehend the “immediate substantive impacts on women's lives”. The Chief executive of the Women's Resource Centre who created the report, Vivienne Hayes, questioned the government’s commitment to gender equality, arguing “Austerity is not an excuse for discrimination." The report will be taken to a UN Convention in Switzerland which aims to eradicate all forms of discrimination against women. Hayes argues that shaming the UK government on an international stage is the only available option left. 


Legislation which is similar to an international charter for women’s equality (Cedaw) was signed by the UK government, who argued that they would fight to “ensure equal opportunities for women in Britain. “ This recent report indicates that their promise is having little impact, and criticisms have been made of the government’s lack of co-ordination in approaching the issue.


A decision to review the public sector equality duty – which ensures that all public bodies must consider equality, has been described as “a major row back on women's rights".


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