Last week the Fawcett society, a leading women’s rights organisation, unveiled its “life raft for women’s equality”. That’s a fancy way of saying that we, as 50% of the population, need a fairer deal.
Firstly they want funding for Sure Start centres to be ringfenced. Then they want local authorities to ring fence their domestic violence service budgets. They also want child benefits for low income families to be restored back to what they were before April 2011. This all sounds pretty marvellous and crucial to improve the lives of millions of women.
I’m worried this may all be too little, too late as the government has already taken a hacksaw to child benefits and domestic violence support funding. Like here in Devon where the county council has reduced its funding by 100%. Yes 100%, as in all of it. Just how can they justify doing this when in 2010 there were 18,940 reports of domestic violence in Devon and Cornwall? (Devon and Cornwall police figures.) It’s mind-boggling and downright disgusting.
Now yet another damaging proposal has just been revealed; to lower the age that young parents can receive some cash to help with childcare costs. Currently parents aged 20 and under can receive up to £175 a week to pay for childcare so they can go to college, undertake training or go job hunting. Now the Department for Education is considering lowering this age to 18.
I don’t know about you but most of the young parents I know had their babies around the age of 17. Under these plans that would only give them a year at most to start a career, or at least get a job. That’s just not going to happen. It’s not enough time to do a course, especially one that’s part time, which they will have to do because of the child.
Now I know the cuts aren’t about preserving long-term financial stability (or maybe they are, I sometimes get distracted by Cameron’s smugness) but all of this leaves me livid. If funding is constantly cut like this us women may as well go back to the kitchen sink and stay there. Every single cut they are making says to me that they want us back at home with the children with no way out. Back stuck in abusive relationships with no refuge. Did someone say 1950s? If the government and local authorities keep cutting our lifelines this is what’s going to happen.
Last weekend a hash tag on twitter put feminism firmly on the social media spectrum. It was #feministwishlist, designed to highlight inequality and misconceptions of feminism.
@leenie909 summed it up perfectly in one tweet.
“#feministwishlist For people to realize [sic] that women are not a “special interest group.” We’re half the planet.”
You hear that Cameron? No? Well I’d start listening.
Written for The People’s Republic of South Devon