As the Equal Opportunities Commission wraps up for good and passes on its mantle of gender equality to the new Commission on Equalities and Human Rights, which comes into being in October this year, it has issued a damning report today saying that gender equality in Britain is still “decades away”.
I think this is also worth taking into stock at a time when many male bloggers spend an inordinate amount of time criticising Arab countries for their record on women’s rights (also a laudable aim) but say nothing about the inequalities at home.
Â· A “power gap” in parliament, where only 20% of MPs are women. At the current rate, it will take 195 years for this to close and 65 years to achieve a gender balance in the boardrooms of the top companies listed in the FTSE 100 index;
Â· A “pensions gap” that leaves retired women with 40% less income than male contemporaries; this gap could take 45 years to close;
Â· A “part-time pay gap” will take 25 years to close and the “full-time pay gap” 20 years, in a system that now pays women 38% less per hour than men for working part time and 17% for full-timers;
Â· A “health gap,” disadvantaging men that may never close unless the NHS adopts more male-friendly practices to address the problem that men aged 16-44 are less than half as likely as women to consult their GP, resulting in later diagnosis of serious illnesses.
It found discrimination is still rife in politics, employment and public services, and stark gender gaps at work and at home.
Jenny Watson, the commission’s chairwoman, said: “Today, most women work, many men no longer define themselves as breadwinners and both sexes often struggle to find the time they need to care for others in their lives. Despite many advances, Britain’s institutions have not caught up with these changes.
“A country that channels women into low-paid work, fails to adequately support families and forces people who want to work flexibly to trade down in jobs pays a high price in terms of child poverty, family breakdown and low productivity. This is a challenge that Gordon Brown’s new government urgently needs to address.”
Well Harriet Harman, the challenge has been set for you. It’s time to get the Labour party to get moving.
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: Sex equality