Activists have just chained themselves to the railings of Liverpool Town Hall to protest the impact of national and local government cuts on women, this International Women’s Day. They are borrowing a direct action tactic and dress style from suffragettes, to highlight their opinion that the interests of women are still not represented by those in elected office, and call for women to organise resistance against cuts which disproportionately affect them.
Even before the coalition government began imposing austerity measures, women were on average far more financially insecure than men. Since 2010, cuts have disproportionately affected women, widening the gender gap, and pushing many women into extremely precarious situations. Women are facing a triple whammy.
- women make up around two-thirds of the public sector workforce, so cuts to this sector are hitting them harder.
- caps and cuts to benefits and tax credits such as housing benefit and carer’s allowance are hitting women disproportionately hard – around three-quarters of the money being cut is coming from women’s pockets.
- rolling back public services also affects women disproportionately as they tend to use things like childcare and social care services more frequently and more intensively than men. (Fawcett Society, 2013)
Locally, Mayor Joe Anderson and the Labour council have imposed enormous cuts to services primarily accessed by women, including the passing just this week of a £42 million cut in adult social care – a sector which has an 82% female work force in this country.
A 2013 study published by John Moores University, Women at the Cutting Edge, found that the council’s measures are not only “negatively impacting on women in the most vulnerable social groups”, but they are also “impacting on women workers in terms of worsening job security and mental wellbeing. There is a cumulative impact in terms of cuts to a range of services that women may rely on to meet their basic needs for safety, security and wellbeing.”
Before he became mayor, Joe Anderson wore a pair of red stilettos to show his opposition to violence against women, yet the cuts he is making are exacerbating this problem. Furthermore, the cuts to jobs predominantly staffed by and used by women make a mockery of the council’s supposed commitment to equal opportunities.