International Women's Day: Green Party statement
8 March 2010
Today, International Women's Day, the Green Party laid out its concerns about the disadvantages that still face women in 21st century Britain - and the party's proposals for addressing the problem.
The Greens pointed out:
- British women working full-time on average earn 17% less than men working full-time; for part-time workers the gap is 36% an hour
- Retired women's incomes are on average 40% less than men's
- Fewer than 20% of Westminster MPs are female; less than 11% of board members on major British companies are female
- Women still carry out the majority of unpaid work in the home, and in total on average work considerably more hours than men
- One in four women is subjected to domestic violence in her lifetime, and rape and sexual assault are a societal blight, with significant under-reporting of cases, and only six out of 100 cases that are reported to police resulting in a conviction. Violence against women costs our society £40bn a year, and the psychological and personal costs are enormous
The Green Party's proposals for the general election will include:
- Women (and men) who take time out of paid work for family or caring responsibilities make an essential contribution to our society, and they should not be penalised for this.
- All jobs should be arranged, so every worker maintains a decent work-life balance and has time for family, social and community life. Full-time UK employees work the longest average hours in Europe, 43.5 hours as against 38.2 in France, and 39.9 in Germany. The Green Party wants a 35-hour working week, to help improve people’s work/life balance and help to share out work.
- A non-means-tested citizen’s pension set at 60% of the median national income, currently £170 a week, which would immediately lift pensioners, particularly women, out of poverty.
- Major improvements in maternity services. A full range of birth options must be available to all women, and all women should be entitled to the care of a single midwife throughout their maternity experience and post-natally.
- Breastfeeding rates in the UK are currently well below WHO recommendations, with just 42% of babies being breastfed at 6 weeks, 29% at 4 months and just 22% at 6 months of age. Greens would insist on excellent support for all mothers who choose to breastfeed, and significant penalties to ensure they are not harassed when feeding their children in public, similar to the law already in effect in Scotland.
- Supporting and enhancing Sure Start centres, which help many women and men with parenting. Our proposed citizens' income scheme would replace the current child benefit, but in the meantime Greens argue for a higher rate of child benefit, to more closely reflect the cost of rearing a child.
A Green Party spokeperson said today that: "The Green Party have the policies to make changes happen that will mean a real and positive difference for women everywhere. Greens have long supported boardroom quotas to improve the representation of women, and to address the discriminatory and insulting pay gap that still exists in 2010. Along with improved child care facilities, and access to these, we will recognizing the input of both parents from a child's birth. Today is International Women's Day. 70% of the world's poor are women, and 75% of the civilians killed in war are women and children. Greens recognize that we've got work to do."
You can read the entire report - "Fairness, equity and opportunity: Green Party policies of particular concern to women" - here.
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