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Talking Point: Female Unemployment

PUBLISHED: 12:14 03 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:50 20 February 2013

Talking Point: Female Unemployment

Talking Point: Female Unemployment

Sophie Atherton looks at the current unemployment statistics and finds that, despite the success of the feminist movement, it's still sometimes hard to be a woman


Sophie Atherton looks at the current unemployment statistics and finds that, despite the success of the feminist movement, its still sometimes hard to be a woman


This time last year I was writing about Somersets protests against proposed local government cuts. A year on, and we are starting to feel them, and the coalition governments cuts they stem from, bite especially if youre a woman.


In Bristol the cuts are costing women 45 million, which is twice as much as the cost to men. This figure comes from a report published by the Bristol branch of the Fawcett Society, a national organisation thats been campaigning for equality between women and men since 1866. It says that changes to the benefit and tax system are mostly to blame, including cuts to tax credits, benefits to pregnant women, family and care benefits and unemployment benefits. Cuts to housing benefit leave Bristol women up to 15 a week worse off and a raft of cross-agency health and social care cuts totalling more than 26 million will hit the female half of the population hard because thousands more women than men depend on these services.


Its not just benefits either. Job cuts are hitting women more than men too. Nationally, women make up 65% of public sector workers and 63% of council workers in Bristol. Bristol City Council are planning 240 job cuts in 2011/12 alone and with all those cuts to benefits youve got to wonder how newly unemployed women are going to cope.


"Drastic reductions in public spending have left women facing a triple jeopardy of cuts to jobs, benefits and services that have, over recent years, helped to narrow the gap between women and men," explains Acting Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, Anna Bird.


"This report spells out the real impact of cuts on the ground in Bristol, and shows clearly how many will have a disproportionate impact on women. Its reports like this that help us to make sense of whats actually happening to people around the country," she adds.


The bleak picture in Bristol is being reproduced across the country as the politicians in Westminster and remember, barely even a quarter of them are female rest on their laurels while decades of progress towards womens equality is undone.


We all know that the economy is in trouble and that something needs to be done, but those in power seem to have forgotten just how much the country depends on the work women do that men dont, wont or cant such as reproducing the countrys workforce, childcare and looking after the sick and elderly. And to ignore the fact that the triple jeopardy the Fawcett chief refers to could threaten womens hard-fought-for equality is criminally stupid and unjust.


Just how bad are things for women in Somerset? No ones done a report for the county so far, but the TUC have launched a toolkit making it possible for community and voluntary groups to find out. Whos going to step up and work out how much Somersets women are set to lose?


Go to fawcettsociety.org.uk to find out more about the organisations campaign for womens equality.


Visit http://tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-20286-f0.cfm to get hold of the TUC toolkit.


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