Ten organisations* have come together to present a positive vision for women in the UK,challenging the Government to make the UK the best place in the world to be a woman. The campaign, which launches today, is fighting for women’s rights to be protected post-Brexit. Led by gender equality campaigning charity, the Fawcett Society, the ‘Face Her Future’ coalition is demanding that current rights are not weakened either directly or indirectly as a result of the Brexit negotiations.
Campaigners argue that the Government faces a stark choice – to use the opportunity of Brexit to achieve transformational change for women in the UK or to turn the clock back on equality. Women in the UK face a gender pay gap of 19%; 54,000 working mothers experience pregnancy discrimination every year, just 29% of MPs are women; 2 women each week die at the hands of a partner or ex-partner. EU regulations and cases won in the European Court have given women in the UK the right to equal pay for equal value, maternity rights, part-time workers’ rights, pension entitlements and parental leave rights. International co-operation across the EU has tackled female genital mutilation, human trafficking and developed strategies to combat violence against women. Campaigners warn that these may all be at risk unless government makes women’s rights and women’s lives a key focus of the negotiations. They also argue that any economic downturn may hit women hardest. Previous welfare reforms and spending cuts have fallen disproportionately on women. In these circumstances they maintain, women’s rights become vulnerable.
Sam Smethers, Fawcett Chief Executive, explains:
“Brexit presents us with the opportunity to achieve a step change in women’s lives. We have to deliver a better future for women in the UK not turn the clock back. As a first step government must guarantee that there will be no weakening of women’s rights either directly or indirectly. “We have come together to form the ‘Face Her Future’ campaign to present a positive vision of what our society could be like. We want to make the UK the best place to be a woman. If we can no longer look to Europe to progress women’s rights then we must do it for ourselves.”
The coalition is calling for:
- a guarantee that there will be no weakening of women’s rights post-Brexit either directly or indirectly ‘under cover’ of Brexit. Maternity rigihts, part-time workers’ rights and equal pay for work of equal value all derive from the EU;
- women to be represented at every level of the negotiating process. The three cabinet ministers responsible for our Brexit negotiations (Davis, Fox and Johnson) are all men;
- gender impact assessment of major spending decisions - we must ensure that women are not hit hardest by recession and austerity as they have been in the past;
- a strategic focus on ending violence against women and girls, including international co-operation to do so;
- migrant workers from the EU who are already here to be allowed to remain;
- action to tackle racist abuse and hate crimes, including those disproportionately experienced by women.
To kick off the campaign the Fawcett Society will be launching a social media challenge, calling on people to #Faceherfuture and post photos of themselves with a woman they care about, stating what they want to see in her future. Please use #FaceHerFuture and get involved when the campaign launches on Wednesday 20th July.
For more information on the campaign visit www.faceherfuture.co.uk.