International Women’s Day
There seems to be a buzz of excitement and activity around International Women’s Day this year. From Daniel Craig in drag to a new Women of the World (WOW) festival at the Southbank, to the TUC’s own International Women’s Day event at Congress House last night, to the TUC’s International Women’s Day publication, to the many other union events happening the length and breadth of the country.
It may be just the fact that it’s a centenary celebration that has generated the extra interest in International Women’s Day this year. Or maybe it’s because this is not panning out to be a very good year for women, at home or overseas, and today seems like an opportune moment to do something about it and make our voices heard.
The ETUC issued a press release today with a summary of the findings of a recent survey. In short, the survey found that women in Europe are bearing the brunt of economic crisis. Both the quality and quantity of women’s work is dwindling by the day. Women are increasingly facing redundancy and unemployment. Those who are in work are more likely to be in precarious, vulnerable, and agency work.
John Monks, ETUC General Secretary, said of the survey findings,
“There is an urgent need to look at the gender dimension of the economic crisis and to adopt measures that will strengthen the position of women in the labour market. Female employment has been an important element of Europe’s growth in the last years and policy measures to contrast the damages generated by the economic crisis should aim at reinforcing equality between women and men and not
exacerbate gender segmentation of the labour market”
The ETUC press release echoes a report from the ITUC this week which shows that, although the initial impact of the global economic crisis hit men and women equally hard, the balance is now shifting as increasing numbers of women are either losing their jobs or being forced into more precarious, temporary, and informal work.
The ITUC report points to the swelling ranks of the “working poor” – those, mainly women, who are in work but whose jobs don’t provide enough to meet their basic needs.
And let’s not kid ourselves that these reports are just about women in some far flung corner of the globe Both the ETUC survey and the ITUC report paint an accurate picture of the situation faced by women in the UK.
Unemployment, underemployment, and precarious, poor quality, low paid work are increasingly characteristic of women’s work here too. As the public sector loses more (predominantly women’s) jobs with every day that goes by, the chances are that women’s unemployment – in particular, young women’s unemployment – is only going to get worse.
There will be more from the TUC this week on women and unemployment so watch this space.
We’ve come a long way in 100 years but there’s a long way still to go.