Story: Colombine Neal
Burngreave’s women are among those who will be hit hardest by government cuts.
So on the 18th April women of many nationalities and professions, from Burngreave and all over South Yorkshire, came together at Hallam University for a conference on these hard times. The day turned out to be a very constructive and lively debate among equals.
The morning started with Beatrix Campbell, a campaigning journalist and broadcaster, who shared her view that this moment is unique, that woman like us have never existed before and that we need to realise this.
Vera Baird, who was particularly involved with the gender and equalities policy, said that we live happily with the expectation that women are progressing and moving forward but that has now been broken – women are losing out as the government “slashes and burns all things public”.
With 65% of public services run by women, in the health service, in education, in all sorts of care, it is women that are losing their jobs as the public sector is cut.
“This cabinet of millionaire men see this as the easiest way of cutting the public sector with minimum resistance because they see women as soft targets. They also think they are getting a ‘buy one get one free’ because, by scrapping public sector jobs, they are scrapping the cost of childcare. It is important that we get organized now.”: Vera Baird.
Sue Yeandle, who has been studying women seriously since the 1970s, says our family and our relationships are fundamental to us and women must remember that these are important parts of the social structure and that women are often at the very centre of that.
The reality is that women still get the lowest pay. Services developed by men seem to be more valued then the goods and services developed by women. We need to keep challenging that issue. What women do is just as important.
“One lesson is don’t be afraid to get angry, don’t be afraid to get radical, don’t be afraid to get outspoken, don’t be afraid to get mad. It was what got us to where we are today. We need to get out there and have them disliking us, despising us, condemning us and trying to put us back in our box. We have to get out there and fight.”: Kate Green.
In terms of solutions, partnerships and networking are key. Together you have a stronger voice.
Shaista Gohir, the Executive Director of Muslim Women’s Network UK, http://www.mwnuk.co.uk, wanted to focus on BME women because they are the most disadvantaged, most marginalized women in this society. She realized that decision- and policy-makers don’t understand how vital BME women are. They are not valued enough although they do lots of work and lots of services for very little money.
“As to the big society, if we lost the BME voices, it would no longer be that and should be renamed an unfair society. These are reasons we need to group together”: Shaista Gohir.
By now it should be clear that this government is at best indifferent to women. Whether it is welfare reform or cuts to public services, women are being hit hard.
“There needs to be work across generations and cultures and we need to come together and help one another and fight our way out of this. There are going to be another three similar events to this across South Yorkshire and hopefully this won’t be the last": Helen Jackson