Skip navigation.

What do we make of the ‘F’ word now?

Scarlett Maguire

First published in Renewal Vol. 12, No. 3 (2004)

 

Participants:

Patricia Hewitt MP, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Cabinet Minister for Women;

Angela McRobbie, Professor of Communications at Goldsmiths College, London;

Beatrix Campbell, journalist;

Jenny Watson, Deputy Chair at the Equal Opportunities Commission;

Ruth Lister, Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough University;

Geethika Jayatilaka, Camden Councillor with executive responsibility for social services;

Katherine Rake, Director of the Fawcett Society;

Polly Toynbee, columnist at the Guardian;

Rebecca Gill, Policy Officer at the TUC;

Deborah Lincoln, Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry;

Madeleine Bunting, columnist at the Guardian.

 

Chaired by Scarlett Maguire

 

Patricia Hewitt

Let me throw out a proposition, to start the debate: that big F feminism, seems to have little resonance today. Particularly in the sense that so many younger women, especially, do not define themselves as feminists. Small f feminism seems to be alive and well and is badly needed by young feminists. I mean, by small f feminism, a gendered view of the world and an understanding of the continual inequalities that effect and distort the lives of women and also the lives of men.

In particular the continual pay-gap between part-time workers and full-time male workers; the job segregation; what lies underneath that; the continuing problems of reconciling work, career and learning with family responsibilities and other parts of one’s life; and continuing problems and prevalence of domestic as well as public violence. So, all of those issues, we’re still working on. At the moment I have to say I have a sense that our daughters are going to be working on them in another twenty or twenty-five years to come. The issue is what we do about big F feminism?

 

Angela McRobbie

Feminism with a capital F, has, if you like, either run out of steam – it’s either become associated with older women, an older generation – or it’s become very institutionalised academically and hasn’t had a good public airing for about ten years. I also think it has been subject to, if you like, degrees of dehumanisation which has discouraged young women from openly defining themselves as feminists in a public way. Which is fair enough, because there has to be a generation gap, they don’t want to be just a reflection of their mothers.

I write a lot about young women and for them feminism, with a small f, has become a privatised and individualised passion. There is great enthusiasm for discussing issues around sexuality and the ethics of sexual conduct. But it either takes place in the seminar room and it isn’t then continued in the public world. Or, it becomes individualised in terms of that rhetoric of self-help: what can I do to solve my problem? What kind of tits do I need?

What needs to happen is an encouragement of greater degree of political involvement, political participation. Some sense that it’s okay for young women again to think and talk in the public domain about sexuality. If you like, a way of encouraging them to develop their own vocabulary because it’s got to be a genre, it’s got to be different from the generation of Germaine Greer.

But they need encouragement to do that in a way where they feel that they won’t be jeopardising their femininity, their sexiness and their cool. Because, right now, in popular culture, in the mass media, there is no validation, there is no possibility of these feminists also being young and attractive and sexy.

 

Beatrix Campbell

There’s an additional problem because we all recognise the difference that Patricia’s described between the big F and the little f. But between those two symbols there’s something very cruel happening in that gap – the scandalous and determined failure of progressive politics with a big P, to give to feminism any political space whatsoever. It isn’t that feminist questions, as it were, are privatised; it’s that they inhabit a domain that has no articulation at what is regarded at the official political parliamentary level.

Feminism, one of the great new social movements, one of the great efforts to find a new democratic settlement between men and women that wasn’t defined by domination, dominion and subordination, was always going to be a contingent movement; it always needed to be in a conversation with other forms of political practice by political parties. And it’s a collective tragedy in Britain that the Labour Party and the Liberal Party have themselves joined the backlash that is part of feminism’s problem, such that women’s issues have to live a kind of subterranean sneaky secret life to find a place to nest. And they find places to nest where there are convergences of interest.

Take domestic violence as an example. This has been one of the great successes of the Labour Government. But why was domestic violence so successful as part of the Government’s agenda? Number one, because, actually, the great invention of the new consciousness around domestic violence had already built up a number of very secure institutional alliances in Britain with local authorities, police authorities, housing authorities, community safety outfits. In other words there’s a kind of municipal infrastructure around the management of responding to domestic violence. But at the same time the police were bidding for new legislation on domestic violence as well as the feminists who were actually picking up the pieces. So what we see is a convergence between a heavy-duty, macho, law and order agenda in New Labourism with a feminist agenda that’s about reforming the way that the institutions think about and understand violence against women. The tragedy is that everything that we’ve learnt about men’s violence against women doesn’t translate into the idiom of the way that the Government talks about men’s violence in general, against other men. So, what happens then is that the problem of violence gets disconnected from feminist insights until it becomes jobs, louts, and hooligans. In other words, not men like our Prime Minister.

So, what that illuminates is that the difficulty for big F, feminism, is that it has to find places of convergence with a parliamentary agenda that’s actually inimical to it. New Labour found the association between feminism and labourism thoroughly embarrassing. Second, it has a neo-liberal economic agenda and therefore withdraws from an expansion of the space of the state that makes feminist demands of the state very difficult to be heard. Finally, New Labour has a misogynistic moral agenda that for a long time has apportioned blame to feckless, smoking mothers for the bad behaviour of their boys. So, it’s a real muddle about how to make sense of gendered issues that are now part of everyday conversation.

 

Jenny Watson

It pains me greatly to disagree with Bea, because you’re my heroine. But I can’t think of a time other than now when I’ve been politically active when the issues between men and women, which is mainly about the caring work that women do, is so visible and such a zeitgeist issue.

The Labour Party is recognising the difference between men and women’s lives on pension proposals and purse issues around payment of tax credits going to the mother, who is usually the main care provider, and not just straight to the father. And the domestic violence agenda is a brilliant example, where feminism has found an expression in policy-making. How can we be in a situation where two women a week are killed by their current or former partners? And actually this is the first time I’ve seen the Government responding in that way to that kind of issue, so, I think the space is there.

I believe we may get further if we never forget that we are feminists. But what I’m going to push for now is for that fundamental difference around the caring roles to be more recognised and that does mean things like extending the right to us, to carers, which is a very welcome announcement. I suppose, it’s those small practical changes that make a tremendous difference in people’s lives and actually unite men and women around the new agenda because we do now have a situation where dads are doing a third of the childcare when they’ve got kids under five, and you have to recognise that. We have to take that into account as we go forward and we have to make, as that good old slogan goes, the personal political again.

For the first time other parties are responding and we are seeing the Conservatives saying that they’re thinking about paying women to stay at home for the first year; this is a political issue now. That’s because, I think, feminism has found the space to intervene in that debate, and I just hope that we don’t go backwards.

 

Ruth Lister

If we’ve got little, small f, feminism, then, is that enough? And I think what Angela and Bea are saying suggests that it’s not enough. Without big F feminism, or an acknowledgement that we still need feminism as such, as opposed to kind of an awareness, then it’s too easy to individualise the problems. It’s too easy to say, well, it’s just small things that need to be mopped up now.

I agree with them, it is important, the small practical things, and we shouldn’t discount the importance of those; but I get a sense that taking the government as a whole (and not you, Patricia) that there isn’t a systematic gendered analysis. I think the most fundamental area where we still need change is still within the household.

In the UK there’s a willingness, because of our sort of liberal tradition, that you don’t mess about with what goes on in the family. Whereas in a Scandinavian country there’s a much greater willingness to acknowledge that public policy can shift or can help to shift what’s going on in terms of the gender division in labour and so forth.

But without an acknowledgement that big F feminism still has something to say, there’s a danger it all disintegrates into lots of little fragmented pieces rather than the transformation in gender relations. We’ve come a hell of a long way, the first question we’ve got there. And it’s important, we acknowledge that, what we have achieved, we and our sisters and our mothers; but there is still an awful long way to go, and we won’t get there simply by messing about here and there.

 

Geethita Jayatilaka

We’ve talked a lot about the fragmentation within small f feminism. One of the terms they used in Australia was DIY feminism: it’s very much now, you do it yourself, it’s about you, it’s about your life. And I think, certainly, that does reflect not only age and perception but also just the increasing diversity between women about what your life is equal to.

Coming from a local council perspective you see women organising locally all the time around important issues. But the difficulty is that that lacks the power to be transformatory because it doesn’t happen enough on a national level. It’s not just about tinkering; you have to look again at what are the radical solutions to this.

 

Katherine Rake

One thing I would pose a question about is whether we ever did have a popular big F feminism? When was the glorious day when everybody said, ‘I’m a feminist and I love it’? In a sense it will always be a minority, because it’s about challenging. What feminism means to me is going to a kind of confession session; what feminism means to me is about challenging the structures of power, economic, political power as well as challenging relationships within the household. And of course it’s a very radical proposition in itself, and insofar as it’s a radical proposition, it is likely to always remain a minority. I suppose the triumph and tragedy of feminism is that it has gone underground and has become translated into a private agenda.

One of the things I got struck by was a meeting we had recently with some young women from the NUS (National Union of Students), who said what engages them most of the time is stopping Aftershock sending a 6’ promotional bottle with a woman pole dancing into the student union bar. They’re dealing with a constant sexualisation that feminism hasn’t traditionally dealt with terribly well. There is whole set of issues around this sexualisation of everything and the portrayal of women in popular culture, which is a huge issue that we need to begin to look at.

Feminism has always been a very self-critical movement. But there are two things that we haven’t done well; one is about differences among women and it’s clear now that there are more differences among women than there are differences between women and men. And so my situation as an educated, middle-class, white woman is very much closer to an equivalent man than it is to women with low educational skills from different minority ethnic groups and what-have-you.

When you look at what’s happened to women in the labour market, what’s really impacted on them is the gross inequality in the 90s. Clearly things like national minimum wages are positive.

So it’s about the big economic policies that shape their lives as well as the issues that are labelled women’s issues. And so I do think that bringing those gender perspectives right across policy is exactly where we need to go, to transport, pensions, so on and so forth. And again, one of the criticisms that I placed on the feminist movement is that it has tended to talk about women’s policies as though there were such a thing. And clearly there isn’t.

We (the Fawcett Society) are doing work at the moment about who’ve been winners and losers economically since 1997. And what is very clear is that the winners are those women that look most like men in terms of their behaviour. And the losers are, not surprisingly, those that don’t, and those that fall outside the labour market. I think one of the very big challenges that we need to take forward is how you alter the rules of the game effectively, and how you continue that process of transformation so that women can engage on equal terms.

Women that can engage on the same terms as men are doing fine, but those that aren’t are falling out of the system. And clearly one of the very big issues around that is around care. And this is an issue that all governments struggle with; there’s no government internationally that has found a gender equality agenda that sits happily with all women. One of the big challenges will be how do you reward care without institutionalising the gender division of labour?

 

Polly Toynbee

We must never forget that the feminist idea was the most revolutionary political idea that there has ever been. It reached right down into the most intimate, most important, most personal things in everybody’s life: men and women. It threatens power as nothing else does; it frightens men, quite rightly, because we are asking for an enormous revolution in their behaviour.

What we’ve ended up with is a revolution half made, and we’ve ended up with something that is half very good and half very bad. And the half that’s very bad is the falling out through divorce and single parenthood, which is very often to do with women who just will not tolerate appalling men anymore.

They vote with their feet, but when they get out there they fall over the precipice because we still have pay gaps, and a society organised in such a way that it assumes that you can only manage to have children and have a family if you have, basically, one dominant earner. And the pay gap is not a few middle-class women wondering whether they’re getting as much as the man next door to them in a bank. It’s about not being able to survive; it’s about not being able to be a breadwinner. And the vast majority of women can’t be. Tax credits recognise it to some extent and I think they’re a very good thing but they are a stopgap for what’s happened in society.

We’ve got to recognise that until working parents can earn a reasonable sum of money to look after their families, you are never going to get any kind of equality. And when we talk about poverty, this government’s been very good at focusing on poverty, it still doesn’t really do it in a very gendered way: it is mostly women who are the poor; it is mostly single women who are poor.

The New Deal for Lone Parents is not going well. It just doesn’t have enough to offer. Because once younger women have fallen out of the labour market that badly they’re never going to get back in without a great deal of support. There is very weak training on offer through that scheme. But we have the mechanisms to do all these things; we can make the new deal for lone parents fantastic, and we could have terrific childcare and training schemes. We know why people are poor, we know how to stop poor children failing, we know how wonderful Sure Start is, and we have pilot schemes that cover absolutely everything that now show without a doubt what works.

What we don’t know is how to persuade the rest of society that this is all fixable: that it can be done; it doesn’t even cost a fortune – it just costs a bit more; it just means thinking about society a bit differently. And what we never seem to have is the ammunition or the skills or the knowledge to know what it is that changes this particular very right-wing and reactionary society into, perhaps, something more Swedish. What are the triggers? What are the things that energise people and make them suddenly say, yeah, I think I’d rather live there, I think that would be better, I think I’d feel better – I think I’d feel better about my daughters, I think I’d feel better about life in general, better about my family life, whether you’re a man or a woman? And yeah, I think it’s worth paying more for.

And what is it about our politics that makes it absolutely verboten for a politician to dare to say that? And it’s still regarded as a kind of death if you do, because we haven’t yet found the language or we don’t know what the triggers are or we don’t know what it is that persuades people. Feminism is a class issue: it is the women who’ve fallen down and some of it is the fault of a half-made liberation; the fault of the feminist success that we’ve left so many women utterly stranded in a still male economy.

 

Rebecca Gill

Because we had a women in power who was singularly so unhelpful to all other women and in a sense it was like, what is it that feminism should actually produce? Either a woman in dungarees or Margaret Thatcher – or those were the two images of women. One consequence is that women don’t know how to complain about their experiences. They don’t know that it isn’t just them, it’s everybody else; all other women are experiencing it as well. One of the important things about feminism and one of the things it taught me about being a woman is, whatever class you are and whatever race you are, whatever other experiences you’ve had, you will always experience something on the basis that you are women.

In the trade union movement we’ve always had lots of self-organised women structures, and actually there are women and some men in the trade union movement who have done an enormous amount to progress women’s lives, particularly in work. But it’s something that relies on collectivism, and we just don’t have a language of collectivism. And I don’t think the Labour Government has a language of collectivism either; in its language of collectivism I think there’s a sense … there can be elements of ‘it’s about the individual’, which makes it very hard to take forward.

 

Angela McRobbie

The very fact that women are flooding into the universities unsettles the old class division and promotes a confidence amongst young women that they will be in lifelong work with some interruptions. That gives them quite a lot of power; it also gives them a lot of spending power. I think we also have to take into account, in this kind of discussion, both in relation to caring and in relation to citizenship, demographic changes whereby young women are putting off their first child until thirty. This is really quite frightening; and that means that actually all of the discussions that we used to have about what it is to be a citizen actually changed because citizenship for women was traditionally associated with maternity, with looking after children, and with being involved in the local community.

Maternal citizenship was absolutely vital. Now, if you’re not thinking about children till the age of thirty-five that means that you’ve got quite a long period of time for enjoying yourself, of having your own disposable income: where you’re absolutely within the grasp of the drinks industry, the fashion industry, the beauty industry, the magazines, the pampering and so on. Now, I think New Labour must inaugurate a discussion about citizenship and sexuality and ethics for young women.

My second point is young women don’t have a vocabulary because feminists (perhaps quite properly in the early days) installed a notion of victimology. And young women, because they are successful, don’t want to be seen as victims. So we have to take into account enthusiasm for female success, for participation, for doing well at work, for earning your own living, for lifelong work. But I also think we have to take into account the consequences of ten years of depoliticisation and of the demonisation of feminism through horrible stereotypes.

And then we have to take into account the consequences of neo-liberalism in relation to sexual conduct. You’re either up for it – you’re one of the lads – or it is a personal choice that you don’t. And I think this produces great ethical confusion and moral anxiety amongst young women. They simply don’t know how to deal with these kinds of issues, but they don’t want to be victims.

 

Patricia Hewitt

There is quite a curious contrast with the United States, where women and men in the Democrats find it much easier to engage with this whole feminist agenda because they’re very strong at national and state level women’s organisations. They may not describe themselves as feminists, but they’re on this agenda. And women are organised – particularly outside the political parties as well as inside – in the United States in a way they’re not here. And those of us who do remember the women’s movement of the 70s and early 80s know that doesn’t exist here.

My perception is that the women trade unionists are much closer to the concerns of women trade union members than women generally in the workforce because they know the number one concern for women in the workplace is how do you balance work with family life? It’s only partly about childcare; this is also about getting the hours you want and the breaks you want.

New Labour was, in the early days, undoubtedly uncomfortable with defining itself or having its leaders define themselves as big F feminists. Hardly surprising when the Labour Party had got bogged down for eighteen yeas in opposition, busily identifying itself with minorities, political minorities of all kinds. And as we’ve just agreed, feminism in its heyday was never the majority identification of women of our generation.

At the same time, the Labour Party had become quite uncomfortable with big E equality because that had come to be seen as about sameness. But what was crystal clear to everyone who was involved in the whole massive project was that a successful Labour Party could not be an old male, macho party.

I think we’ve made real progress on childcare, on working time issues, and so on. What we haven’t yet succeeded in doing either is managing the tensions between paid work and caring responsibilities and between the fathers and mothers. But it’s actually been the feminists in Government who’ve been exploring those issues.

Angela made a hugely important point about the sexuality of young men and women and a hostile culture that stifles open debate. And when we’ve tried to get a debate running, as we’re trying at the moment on issues of obesity, it is incredibly difficult to address in the formal political frame. We’ve got to advance the feminist space and organisation and analysis outside the political parties as well as inside.

 

Deborah Lincoln

I was head of women’s organisation in the Labour Party, a long way back. And most of us round the table were there and involved then, though we were still a real minority. But there was a stronger women’s organisation then. Right now it’s difficult to see how we can push all of these arguments further if we can’t find each other because we are no longer organised. We can find each other at the top: there are women at the top of parties; there are women in power more than ever before. There are many more women in the trade union movement; many in the second tier – soon to be at the top, we hope. And yet, somehow, perhaps because we’re all involved in government, running organisations, we’re not organised as women in the way that we were before we made the huge strides for women that we have made. Somehow, we’re still failing to bring on and energise the next generation of young women activists in our party and movement.

 

Madeleine Bunting

I’m responding to bits of our triumph. There are ways in which we’ve gained power and income but I think there are also ways in which we’ve taken on a burden of tremendous stress and anxiety. So when Katherine says she’s looking at winners and losers, I’m thinking, hang on, who are the winners? That sense of struggle which is true of anybody trying to juggle work and family life is often close to intolerable, and the stress levels and the instance of depression – the rise of all those things, I think, is now pressing.

I went to a seminar at the Nuffield Foundation, where they have been charting mental ill health with adolescents. And what they’re seeing is a really marked steady increase in all sorts of forms of adolescent self-harm. This is more marked here than any other industrialised country.

I think there are all sorts of anxieties here about a very individualistic, very competitive culture where you’re isolated with your problems. You find local collective solidarity and I, like Katherine, link this into big macroeconomic issues around neo-liberalism, about the breakdown of solidarity, the breakdown of inter-connectiveness which was very much a legacy of the Thatcher era and which I think has impacted on women particularly, because their lives have always been so rooted in solidarity; raising children is not something you do on your own, ever: nobody does that. It is a collective act.

All of our traditional orientations towards care, whether that’s of children, or elderly, or friends, get impacted really badly; and we’ve lost a lot of cultural and social capital around care. All the emphasis is around work and success. In terms of role models it may not be a particularly glamorous job, but instead doing a fantastic job at bringing up kids and lots of warm, very strong friendships.

 

Katherine Rake

One of the most dramatic things that’s happened over the past ten years is that women’s rights for Incapacity Benefit has far outstripped men’s; a lot of it’s been driven by mental health issues. And it’s becoming a kind of benefit of refuse.

Feminism at its most radical is about changing our whole understanding about quality of life and what the good society is. The good society isn’t about the power-suited woman over-achieving at the top: it’s about a proper combination of care and leisure. People’s priorities have changed and this is one of the huge unsung success stories of the Labour Government. There has been huge shifts in political priorities that have become more feminised. We were always more concerned about the NHS and education – but now everybody is. So there has been that shift already and the focus away from the economy and some of those issues around tax, which used to be on everybody’s top five.

Where you get support among the general public is for carers. When you ask people, should your granny pay twice in her pension entitlement? She paid once because she didn’t get paid when she was looking after you and then she’s paying again because she’s not getting a full pension entitlement. People say, no, they shouldn’t; and we see a very important role for the welfare state in redistributing towards carers and towards parents in that way. The final point is the Conservatives clearly know that the female vote is up for grabs.

 

Jenny Watson

Why do we pay the person that wipes our grandfather’s bottom less than the person who changes our spark plugs? These are skills, and these kinds of part-time jobs – where women are hugely segregated in the labour market – those jobs are done by women and ethnic minority men. And that says something about the value that society places on those skills; and until we use the policy levers that we have available, so things like procurement, when these are done in public services, this is my tax that’s paying for this – this women’s tax that’s paying unequal pay for other women. So I think we can be imaginative about the kind of procurement levers that we might use in terms of requiring people to have maybe done pay reviews or have good flexible working packages to try and eradicate some of those problems.

 

Bea Campbell

I want to go backward to the USA. It’s enormously underdeveloped and polarised in terms of the public realm: an acutely polarised economic landscape, and one that is getting worse and worse; and we are travelling in the same direction. And the reason it will get worse and worse for us is because so many of the lessons – let me be sharp – that New Labour thought it was learning about what doesn’t work for a social democratic party, it learnt from the United States as a role model. It didn’t learn from those societies that still have a kind of solidaristic ethic and well developed welfare states that for sure need refinement.

Can I just say a word about the business of culture that Angela’s raised? We’re all living with it: all of our kids, all the young people that any of us know, are trying to make sense of the restoration of flamboyant sexism, because that’s what we’re talking about here. And why is it not difficult? Because issues to do with popular culture, sexuality, style, morals, in lots of ways, have been part of the moral and ethical agenda of the government. It wasn’t difficult for Tony Blair to lecture us all about parenting. I imagine it’s not difficult for him to air an opinion about lap dancing – and I would like to know what it is.

The reason I think this is so completely important is because New Labour squandered horribly, and in a sexist way; and entered into a moral and ethical discourse in the 1990s that was disgusting. It was disgusting about mothers, it was disgusting about children in trouble, and it was disgusting about impoverished communities. It was disgusting: we got lectured interminably by the kind of neo-Christian – if I may say so – neo-misogynistic stuff about parenting, responsibility, right and wrong, that wasn’t dealing with the ways in which people are trying to sort out what an ethical way to be is. But also, crucially, it didn’t engage with the stuff that is absolutely critical in terms of civil order, social solidarity, having a kind of calm but firm society, which is largely to do with the way that men behave. What would an economic landscape and a labour market look like if it was framed around a mother?

There isn’t a woman in this room who’s not familiar with that conversation. The work that Patricia did was absolutely crucially useful to that conversation. The work that Ruth did: crucial to that conversation. Everybody here participated in getting us to that point where we’re thinking, ‘actually, equality with a bloke who works fifty hours a week? no thank you’. What we wanted – and what this enterprise that I was interested in was – was to reinvent a new politics of time; a politics that was interested in how we redistribute time, money and power. How we didn’t want to enter a labour market that is structured in the interest of and in the image of a male breadwinner with an unpaid servant at home: his wife or his mother. That conversation ended.

 

Rebecca Gill

In terms of the massive pay gap for the part-time workers, I think that the problem that we’re facing is what are we saying to men? Why would men want to go and do a job which is so badly paid? Why would men want to go and look after children when the penalties for working part time and juggling your time between children and work are so heavy? We can’t sell it. Why would they do it?

We haven’t got over the fact that we don’t know how to pay women a decent wage for doing in the workplace what they do for free at home. And we don’t know how to pay them – we haven’t got a strategy which is universally accepted for paying people to do care work and paying them a decent wage for it – because it isn’t attached to money in the way that looking after somebody’s money is. But that’s because the skills are undervalued: it’s not that you can’t compare the skills – you can.

So we have the framework and the intellectual capacity to do it, but until we’re a society that values care and makes society fit the carer and not the other way round we are all stuck.

 

What we want for women from the government

The roundtable participants came up with the following policy ideas for Labour to pursue in a third term:

  1. Compulsory pay audits in public and private sector; tackle occupational segregation, including acting on the recommendations of the EOC on Modern Apprenticeships; cut the part-time pay gap.
  2. Part-time workers to have the same rights and pay as full-time workers, and introduce part-time as a right.
  3. Introduce effective Age Discrimination legislation.
  4. Same rights for contracted-out workers as directly employed; automatic rights to trade union recognition and access to trade union learning reps; act to introduce contract compliance to enshrine rights for low-paid workers.
  5. ‘Gold-plate’ New Deal for Lone Parents.
  6. Paid parental leave for the first year; paid paternity leave, including an element of ‘use it or lose it’; and a public education campaign to raise awareness of the value of fathers’ involvement with their children.
  7. Increased activity on child poverty agenda.
  8. Promote ethical procurement in the public sector.
  9. Improved childcare provision – universal availability of Sure Start.
  10. Gendered analysis of all Government policy, with a statutory duty to collect data and to monitor impact and effectiveness of policies.
  11. PM to be asked his views about lap dancing at PMQs!
  12. Campaign in schools, colleges and universities to encourage issues around sexuality and citizenship to challenge tabloid hyper-sexualisation of women’s bodies.
  13. Initiate public debate around better balancing working time in the UK.
  14. Government acknowledgement of the value of emotional labour, paid and unpaid.
  15. Speed up introduction of statutory duty to promote gender equality, and introduce single equality law that learns from experience in Wales, Northern Ireland and internationally.
  16. Carers – increase financial support for carers; increase provision of care services for older people; increase provision of care services for disabled people and for those caring for disabled people.
  17. Gender impact assessment of the current skills strategy.
  18. Develop feminist economic/industrial strategy, which places women at its heart.
  19. Government-supported zero-tolerance campaign against sexism and sex crimes.
  20. Make women central to the Labour Party and Labour Government’s manifesto, campaigning and policy – beginning with fifty per cent women in the Cabinet.
Privacy policy
Renewal