Women's Resource Centre

Feb 12

Ensure that women’s health needs are incorporated into local health systems

The Women’s Health and Equality Consortium (WHEC) have produced new guidance ‘Better Health for Women: How to incorporate women’s health needs into Joints Strategic Needs Assessments and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies’.  

For the full report, please click here
For s
ummary briefing, please click here

This document is intended to support Health and Wellbeing Boards to improve health and well-being outcomes for women and girls by offering vital information, evidence and examples of good practice for undertaking Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) and developing Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies (JHWSs).  

JSNAs and JHWSs must assess and aim to meet the needs at the local level and there are particular issues that impact on women and girls’ health and wellbeing that need to be taken into account if services are to be effective for everyone.

All chairs of Health and Wellbeing Boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have received a copy of the guidance. The document can also be used by women’s voluntary and community sector organisations to influence and engage with local Health and Wellbeing Boards

Nov 29

Please vote for Vivienne Hayes for Women’s Hour Power List

Vote before midnight on 30th November 2012.

Vote here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/womans-hour/power-list/

 

Vivienne Hayes is the CEO of the Women’s Resource Centre (WRC), the only national umbrella organisation for women’s organisations. In this capacity she acts as a role model within the women’s sector, running WRC on strong feminist principles and supporting other women’s organisations to live feminist values. From rape crisis centres to domestic violence refuges, services for trafficked women to women’s health centres, the women’s sector provides services to women in need, and WRC serves to give those organisations a voice. She is absolutely at the forefront of campaigning and lobbying for women’s equality and she works tirelessly to link all aspects of the women’s movement.

Vivienne has worked in the women’s sector for over twenty years, touching the lives of hundreds of women and empowering them to fulfil their potential. She has worked in a voluntary capacity for sixteen years, including supporting the National Abortion Campaign, trusteeship of a women’s aid organisation and a women’s health organisation. She was one of the founding trustees of Rosa, the first UK-wide fund for projects working with women and girls, and she was a member of the Women’s National Commission until it was abolished. Vivienne is a member of Million Women Rise and is a special advisor to the Women’s Foundation.

She has worked at WRC for eight years to bring women’s organisations together, strengthening networks to successfully raise the profile of women’s inequality. It is her leadership which has seen WRC produce strong research and analysis about women’s inequality and about the women’s sector, which has been used to influence policy making. There are many examples of this excellent work, but one is the collaboration with Rape Crisis, which saw the partnership produce the report ‘Crisis in Rape Crisis’. The day after the launch of this repport, the government announced funds of £1million per year to rape crisis centres. This funding continues to be ring-fenced today, even under austerity measures. Work such as this is driven by Vivienne as she works continuously to foster a strong and independent women’s sector, to develop sustainable women’s charities to deliver services to those most in need.

Her knowledge and understanding of women’s inequality, both historical and present, on political, social and economic oppression is incredibly vast and she uses it to push for what she would call ‘transformational and substantive’ equality for women. From calling out high level civil servants on their lack of gender analysis in decision making, to giving advice and comfort to the most marginalised and oppressed women in our society, Vivienne uses her knowledge to fight for social justice on a daily basis. It is not an exaggeration to say that she is a leading voice for equality, joining-up-the-dots of inequality not just for women but also along the lines of race, disability and sexuality.

She is currently at the forefront of pushing for new economic models in the UK, pointing out broken capitalist systems and calling for new ways of thinking which can be productive for everyone is our society.

Vivienne speaks regularly at high profile events, such as; the Liberal Democrat Party Conference (Women and Austerity) and the Orwell Prize (A Crisis in Policing). However, her real passion lies in speaking to women who most need support. I have seen her speak with utmost empathy and understanding to women who are fighting difficult causes, and I have seen her inspire them and empower them to continue their journey.

What is most striking about Vivienne is her unwavering and uncompromising attitude; she is absolutely true to herself and to her ethos. Her spirit in the face of adversity, such as the funding crisis being faced by charities at present, inspires countless women every day. She entirely rejects masculine ideals of power, which see people seek to have power over others. Instead she believes wholeheartedly and with passion in the ideology of empowerment, and she seeks to empower others in every aspect of her work. There is never a time that Vivienne would act to disempower or have authority over another person.

Vivienne is loud and proud, and provides a Northern breath of fresh air; mixing hilarious and outspoken commentary with serious issues. Who could be more fitting for a list of the 100 most powerful women in the UK than a woman who empowers other women, particularly those in society who need it the most? A woman who works tirelessly to ensure that the gains which have been made in women’s equality are not rolled back, and who pushes forward in the fight for a just and equal society? For the many many women whose lives she has touched, and for the many women and men in powerful positions whose intentions she has questioned, Vivienne is undoubtedly one of the most powerful women in the UK and has affected the politics, society, culture and the economy of the UK for the better.

Nov 28

Equality Impact Assessments: Less Haste, More speed?

 

All politicians, and particularly Prime Ministers want to Get Things Done. Think Tony Blair marching offenders to the cashpoint. This week David Cameron announced that as well as getting things done, he also wants to Speed Things Up, by not bothering with consultation or equality impact assessments.

It is interesting that the Prime Minister made this announcement at the CBI, which has in the past been supportive of the Consultation Code. When the previous government proposed watering down some of the Code’s provisions, business representatives, including the CBI, were as much against these changes as those of us from the voluntary sector. Both sectors then agreed that the 12-week rule, for example, enabled us to consult with our members, to get the views of those who might be implementing the policy and / or those who would be most affected by it. This in turn would help to assess the impact it could have on the frontline, and identify any unintended consequences, or side effects, which might then be addressed before the policy reached the statute book.

 And that is the point, surely, of both consultation and equality (or environmental) impact assessments (EIAs): identifying, in advance, the likely effectiveness of a particular policy and the potential costs to people and planet. Policy-making will always involve trade-offs between competing needs and interests; difficult decisions have to be made. But it is not unreasonable to expect a government that espouses fairness to at least consider the impact that its policies could have, particularly on those who are already disadvantaged and discriminated against. The alternative, to act now and worry about the consequences later, might be too late for some.

EIAs were introduced precisely because the ‘smart people in Whitehall’ were unable to say what impact government policies had on women, people with disabilities, those from BME communities and other marginalised groups. Expecting us to trust them to do so now, smacks a little of the nanny state: we should leave it to them because they know best. Get rid of the tick box approach by all means, but don’t lose the transparency and accountability that EIAs provide.

The recent PCC elections have again highlighted the apparent apathy and antipathy many people have towards politics and politicians. Some of this seems to be fuelled by a sense that politicians are out of touch and unwilling to listen to people’s views and concerns. Failing to consult or to consider the impact of policies will do nothing to alleviate this. Moreover, by failing to consult, governments may be putting their own reputations at risk.

There has long been a perception in Whitehall (predating this particular government) that consultation is just an excuse for delay and obfuscation. But it doesn’t take too much imagination to suppose that recent incidents, from the forestry fiasco to pastygate, might have been avoided if there had been even the most cursory consultation. As has been said before, uniting National Trust members and those of the Socialist Workers Party is such a rare feat that the Department of Environment might have been expected to have spotted it earlier.

In other words, consultation should be seen as an opportunity, rather than a burden: an opportunity to improve policy and identify problems at an early stage, thereby avoiding embarrassing u-turns later on. Less haste, more speed.

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Belinda Pratten
Board Chair
Women’s Resource Centre

Nov 12

Lessons from the US election: Women matter!

As highlighted by post-election analysis, Barack Obama’s return to office was accompanied by a record number of elected female governors and growing recognition of the power of female voters. Social issues once considered ‘women’s issues’ and confined to the periphery of American politics, came to the fore and shaped the presidential election. From the Lily Ledbetter Act for equal pay to controversies regarding contraception, women’s issues were pivotal on the campaign trail and it was women (alongside ethnic groups) who were crucial in re-electing the president.

As British political parties try to analyse and emulate the recipe of Barack Obama’s success, the most important message they must heed is that women matter. Whilst the next general election in Britain is not until 2015, now is the time for parties to establish meaningful and sustained engagement with women if they want to secure their future votes and effectively meet their needs.

Two of the most contentious issues in the US election were women’s reproductive rights and the issue of rape. Whilst Senatorial candidate Todd Aiken’s comments on women’s biological capabilities in cases of ‘legitimate rape’ were simply dumbfounding, discussions of rape classification and issues of consent shared parallels with recent furores in the UK, most notably the comments of George Galloway MP.

Although abortion and contraception are often considered as controversial political debates reserved for American politics, during British party conferences cabinet ministers offered their personal views regarding abortion term limits, signalling women’s bodies as a battleground for future debates.

Whilst in the US election women were often related to in terms of motherhood, in future campaigning British political parties must relate women in a broader way. Following on from the 2010 ‘Mum’sNet’ general election, which used the parenting website as a political battlefield, efforts must be made to act upon and move beyond, the issue of childcare and not silo women into the role of motherhood.

More attention needs to be paid to the needs of different demographics of women, most notably older women whose needs are often overlooked (and who are susceptible to current changes in social care) and ‘Generation Y’, which includes a population of young women hard hit by the recession. Their diverging needs serve as a reminder of the importance of not treating women as a homogenous group and examining how broader economic and social policies meet their needs.   

Whilst the issue of women’s equality is in ascendance in the US, gender equality has failed to become a political priority in the UK. Alleged successes by the Coalition Government have primarily focused on women in the boardroom but have failed to transcend to the woman on the street.

Emphasis on women’s leadership has overlooked crucial problems for ‘ordinary women’ such as women’s under-employment, which poses damaging impacts for individuals and prospects for economic growth. When paired with the disproportionate impact of public spending cuts on women and the highest level of female unemployment in over 24 years, the need for action is paramount.

Whilst international development policy widely recognises the role of women as agents of social change, British political parties similarly need to present pro-active policies and solutions on women’s issues rather than being prompted by ‘new reports’ or institutional failings. With the UK’s next big election on Police and Crime Commissioners fast approaching, ensuring funding for local violence against women support services offers an important starting point. Whilst winning women’s confidence and votes might be a work in progress, the US election illustrates that their voices can no longer be ignored.   

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Rebecca Veazey
Policy Officer
Women’s Resource Centre

Nov 09

Government Cuts to the Women’s Sector are Tantamount to State Discrimination

Many people in the UK have little or no understanding of the women’s sector; they have not needed to use our services. However, there is a massive and ever growing number of women whose lives, and often the lives of their children, depend on these crucial organisations. This is no overstatement; the women’s sector saves lives. From rape crisis centres to domestic violence refuges, services for trafficked women to women’s health centres, the women’s sector is the backbone of the lives of marginalised and oppressed women in the UK.

It is to women’s organisation’s that women who have experienced violence and/or abuse turn. The police consistently show their misogynistic attitudes and institutional failings in their dealing with rape investigations, from Saville, to Worboys, to Rochdale. Instead, only the women’s sector provides specific services and safe spaces for women, it is a safety net for millions of women every year, particularly for those who have experienced violence.

Sadly the need for these services just keeps on rising. A report last year found that incidents of domestic violence have increased by 17% during the recession. You could be forgiven for expecting that funding for these essential services may have increased in order to meet demand. Unfortunately, the absolute opposite is true. The women’s sector is experiencing the worst crisis it has ever seen; so many services are being forced into closure, are not able to provide services to fit the demand, or are having to turn women away. Women’s Aid has reported that 230 women per day are turned away from domestic violence refuges. This week, Huffington Post published findings of its Freedom of Information request into cuts by 152 top-tier councils in the UK. It revealed £5.6m worth of cuts to services in the last four years, including refuges, domestic violence centres, and centres for women who have been raped or sexually assaulted.

These findings are not surprising to those of us who work in the women’s sector, but they are extremely important in providing an external evaluation which proves, unequivocally how hard we have been hit under the coalition. Although funding has always been piecemeal and insufficient, women’s organisations have survived through their creativity, dedication and commitment to improving the lives of women and girls across the country. However, these cuts are unique in their depth, their breadth, and in their discrimination against the most marginalised and oppressed in our society. They are tantamount to state discrimination against women.

Again, the majority of people in the UK have little or no understanding of the women’s sector, and who could understand or care less than a conservative government, composed for the most part of white, middle class men? This government’s disregard for women and other marginalised groups is so blatant that it is willing to flatly ignore the staggering cost saving which the women’s sector provides to the state. It fills gaps in statutory provision, millions of pounds worth of service provision by police, social services, and the National Health Service. Mary Mason, CEO of Solace Women’s Aid told The Huffington Post UK that ‘for every £1 spent we save £8 to statutory services’.

How can we make sense of such obvious cost savings being flouted by a government consumed by austerity measures? The answer is that the cuts are specifically aimed at the most marginalised in our society, money is being saved off the backs of those who have least capital to fight back, they have always been the easiest to impose upon. David Cameron regularly talks about social inequality; he spoke eloquently on International Women’s Day about taking steps to address the almost epidemic levels of gender based violence, he made the (empty) promise that half of his cabinet members would be women, and he has spoken of a Big Society whereby “we are all in this together”. However, this rhetoric is a smoke screen, it blindfolds us. We are told that ‘benefit thieves’ and immigrants are the enemy, and while our attention is diverted, the marginalised are undercut in the name of austerity. Meanwhile, this ‘austerity’ has not been extended to large corporations such as Starbucks, which made over £3bn in UK sales since 1998 and yet paid less than 1% in corporation tax.

Thus the cuts highlighted by The Huffington Post UK are specific in their discrimination against women, they target a women’s sector at a time when demand is rising, and should be viewed in the wider context of government policies that push women ever further from achieving equality. This is a government which is not only making drastic cuts to the women’s sector but to women’s lives directly by cutting an additional £10bn to welfare, with zero gendered analysis, while all reports show that welfare cuts disproportionately affect women. This is a government which has instated a health minister who believes in cutting the abortion limit to 12 weeks, in the face of evidence against it, and even where there is a threat to the mother’s life. This is a government which is rolling back women’s rights across the board, but which goes unrecognised as no-one is joining up the dots.

Our system is broken; the power, the political capital, and the money resides at the top of a hierarchy. Meanwhile those in most need are further disempowered and pushed to the fringes of our society. Without funding the women’s sector simply cannot provide lifesaving services to women in desperate need. We have seen a crisis in our financial system, how far will the government go in starving service providers before it recognises a politico-cultural crisis? How many women have to be turned away? How many lives have to be lost?

We are here, and we are making as much noise as we possibly can with our depleted resources, but it seems that only money talks and the government can hear only the rich, dulcet tones of its big business friends. This broken capitalism is being resuscitated at the cost of women’s equality, and at the wider cost of social equality.

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Natalie Gyte
Head of Communications
Women’s Resource Centre

Oct 19

Netmums should take responsibility for their role in their perpetuation of ‘Patriarchy 2.0’

A recent survey conducted by Netmums has done the rounds on the internet this week, as a resounding rejection of feminism and its values. A collective sigh went around the Women’s Resource Centre offices as we read that the conclusions of the survey cited feminism as being ‘divisive’ and ‘aggressive’.

The methodology of the survey and thus the results themselves are flawed and based in a deep misunderstanding of feminism: what it has historically stood for and what it currently represents. The first wave of feminism focused on universal suffrage – without which we would not be allowed to vote! The second wave focused on de-facto inequalities – without which we would be consigned to baby making (and consequent raising), cooking and cleaning. I say ‘consigned’ very specifically because the absolute heart of feminism, in all its forms, is of personal choice. Feminism is fundamentally a fight to have the same opportunities as men to make choices about our own lives.

However, when feminism is presented as a militant stereotype, some women will staunchly declare ‘I’m not a feminist’, seeing only a militant stereotype. The degradation of the feminist movement is at the core of reproducing the patriarchal status quo in a society which is ‘still a man’s world’ (41% of respondents to the survey agreed with this statement). Feminism is portrayed as a militant, lesbian, bra-burning, dungaree-wearing, man-hating sect, not a ‘positive label for women’. In taking on this inaccurate portrayal, the women who responded to this survey have very effectively been drawn into the fallacy. This is what I like to call ‘Patriarchy 2.0’; the appropriation of women into the demonisation of the fight for women’s equality (equality meaning having the same choices as men, not being treated as exactly the same, as the survey wrongly asserted).

In fact, the way that the survey was positioned throughout was absolutely emblematic of ‘Patriarchy 2.0’. It forced respondents to choose between a number of constructed negative stereotypes; ‘It’s a bit aggressive towards men’, ‘Feminism has gone to far, oppressing men’ and ‘Don’t want to be equal – women are different to men and we should celebrate the differences’. The conflation of ‘equal’ and ‘the same’ misleadingly pushes women away from the fight for equality in opportunities and choices, polarising them with the feminist movement.

Ironically, in demonstrating what the modern woman wants in ‘opposition’ to feminism, respondents appropriated feminist language; “free to make decisions to suit their own personal beliefs…to live very varied lives without judgement from their peers”. Many respondents backed salary disclosure in the fight for equal pay, a ban on airbrushed adverts and restrictions on internet porn. Thus, many women believe in feminist issues, but are taken in by the ‘feminist fallacy’ that keeps us divided and prevents us from achieving success on those issues.

400,000 women are raped in the UK every year, only 22% of our MPs are female, and women are paid, on average, almost 15% less than men for doing exactly the same job. These are only a few statistics which are indicative of the wider sexism which continues to pervade our society, our culture, our institutions and our politics. Whether you are a man or a woman; unless you are absolutely fine with all of this, what are you if not a feminist? That younger women stated that they “cannot imagine a time when men and women were not equal” shows how effectively the wool has been pulled over their eyes!

Movement will not be made on any of these issues without feminist mobilisation. A recent research piece in the American Political Science Review (as well as many numerous other studies) found that it is not women in government, or economic factors such as an increase in national wealth, or any leftist party, which can bring about change on the issue of violence against women (sexual assault, stalking, trafficking, violence in intimate relationships). Rather it is the mobilisation of autonomous feminist movements which originate changes in policy and reshape the normative and social understanding of violence against women. Feminism is absolutely fundamental to advancing women’s equality at all levels.

Netmums has taken a specific political stance with this survey on feminism, to perpetuate a negative and harmful stereotype. Their unscientific and misleading survey, plus their assertion that they are best placed to ‘work out what young women want now’, is insulting to women throughout the UK who fight for equality, in all its forms. Netmums is, of course, not well positioned to gauge the thoughts and needs of women in theUK, their readership is made up of mothers who have the time to sit at home and fill in online questionnaires. This is not the reality for all mothers, or all women in the UK. Luckily, the feminist movement fights for the equality of a diverse and inclusive range of women. The Women’s Resource Centre fights for all types women, whether mothers or not. Netmums should take responsibility for their role in their perpetuation of ‘Patriarchy 2.0’ and in stigmatising the important work that we, and other organisations in the women’s sector, continue to do.

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Natalie Gyte
Head of Communications
Women’s Resource Centre

Oct 11

International Day of the Girl: Between the national curriculum and Cosmo, we’re letting girls down

On the International Day of the Girl, Rebecca Veazey asks are girls in the UK getting the right education.

I am part of a lost generation, skilled in the art of shopping, with an unrelenting love of shoes, but far from financially savy. Somewhere between the national curriculum and Cosmopolitan Magazine, I, and lots of other young women, were not taught about finance - an essential competency in the school of life and vital skill in the recession.

Whilst boys don’t receive financial training in the school system either, the lack of financial education amongst girls is most worrying due to high levels of women living in poverty, particularly in old age. Whilst the causes of the latter are much more than issues of financial mis-management, recent research shows worrying figures around women’s financial knowledge. According to a recent YouGov survey, less than half (46%) of women who had a pension didn’t know what type it was, and in 2012 the number of bankrupt women in the UK rose to record levels, with 28% of those being aged 18 to 35.

Beyond the 3R’s, of reading, writing and arithmetic, there is a clear need for girls to learn about the 3 P’s: pensions, personal finance and pretty much everything in between, such as tax code letters and what they exactly mean. They should be taught about topics such as compound savings and APR, even if such pearls of wisdom aren’t initially adhered to, due to the allure of clothes from Topshop.

Whilst the merits of women being financial savy has been promoted by many high profile figures, Mrs MoneyPenny and Merryn Somerset Webb are just a few who spring to mind, the key problem seems to be the fact that girls are learning too late. Epiphanies often occur in their mid twenties, rather than their late teens when the world and opportunities are truly at their feet.

A sound financial education needs to be accompanied by solid careers advice. When selecting A-levels, girls should be encouraged to pursue their dreams but also consider qualifications associated with lucrative career options. The aim is not to direct them into learning purely for future financial gain, but to make sure they’re trained in a mix of subjects and are aware of their potential monetary rewards. The fact that girls outperform boys in all levels of education, and then tend to be over-represented in under-paid and less powerful roles, provides another incentive for financial training and urgent thought about how we close the achievement gap.

With the bleak economic outlook and female unemployment at an all time high, it seems imperative that parents teach their daughters financial basics. When just a small bit of financial knowledge can make life so much better, it seems only right that we encourage girls to learn from our mistakes.

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Rebecca Veazy, Policy Officer, Women’s Resource Centre

Met police’s sex crimes unit, Sapphire, will target male behaviour where high levels of rape and sexual assaults take place

In recent comments the new head of the Met’s sex crime unit, Sapphire, outlines new tactics to combat the high number of rapes in Greater London and the decreasing rates of reporting (widely attributed to loss of confidence in the Met due to high profile failures in recent years).

Tactics include:

 • Using the licensing laws for the first time to shut down pubs and clubs which generate a high level of rapes and sexual assaults

• Using covert police tactics to target men who have never been charged and convicted of rape, but where intelligence suggests they are perpetrators

• A hard-hitting prevention campaign to target male behaviour and speak to women about reducing their vulnerability

• Increasing supervision of his officers by restructuring Sapphire into five or six large regional teams

In an article for the Huffington Post, WRC Chief Exec, Vivienne Hayes made the following comments…

While we applaud the determination of Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie in combating rape in Greater London, it is very clear to us that he is completely lacking a gender analysis in his tactics and in his narrative. Keeping offenders off the streets by charging them with unrelated offenses achieves absolutely nothing by way of changing attitudes or preventing future offences. Furthermore, it completely negates justice for survivors, heightening women’s feelings of disenfranchisement towards the Met Police.

We are extremely worried by the tactic of speaking to women to reduce their vulnerability. Duthie states that ‘if they go out and get hammered they are vulnerable – vulnerable to being assaulted – vulnerable to falling over and vulnerable to being raped.’ Such comments frighteningly normalise ‘victim blaming’; they re-allocate blame from the perpetrator to the victim. He goes on to say that vulnerability includes ‘drink, drugs, mental health, age’ – none of which should be regarded as invitations to rape. The problem is not that of ‘vulnerability’ but of a ‘macho culture’ which breeds the notion of male entitlement – it is a culture which is further fed by a police force which consistently fails women through disbelief, victim blaming, failure to investigate and falsification of records.

We would therefore suggest that Sapphire shifts its tactics away from educating women, to focus on the ‘macho culture’ it fosters. The women’s sector has decades of experience in dealing with issues of rape and assault, and would welcome any meaningful attempt on the part of the Met, to engage and share learnings in formulating such strategies.

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Vivienne Hayes, CEO, Women’s Resource Centre

Oct 03

Maria Miller shows us that exercising power over women’s uterus’ is fair game

In response to: Cathy Newman: how the agony of my abortion made me see both sides

The statements by Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Women and Equalities, with regards to abortion are not only inaccurate but deeply offensive to women.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Ms Miller outlines her argument that advances in medical science have made it much more likely that children born before the 24 week limit can be saved. Thus, because the survival rate is now higher, women should be forced to keep babies over 20 weeks, with the main concern being the “impact that late-term abortion has on women”.

Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas), has stated that “Scientific evidence does not show that survival rates before 24 weeks have improved in recent years, as the minister seems to believe”. Enough said. We would suggest that Ms Miller take up the offer from bpas to receive an explanation of “exactly what impact restricting abortion would have on the women we care for and their families”.

The appropriation of feminism to defend Ms Miller’s argument is offensive. No matter the take on feminism, it could never be interpreted as a movement which ‘protects’ women from making their own choices. Central to the concept of feminism are discussions of power, which has been described in two competing ways; as ‘power exerted over’ another person, and as ‘power to do’ something i.e. from the French verb ‘pouvoir’ – to be able. As a feminist organisation, we fight for women to have ‘power to do’ as they wish in their own lives, to have agency over their own decisions, to make their own choices. We fight against ‘power exerted over’ us.

Therefore, legislation which specifically restricts the right to choose takes away women’s ‘power to do’ and reallocates it as ‘power exerted over’ women by government. Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News, who interviewed Ms Miller for The Telegraph, stated; “As a journalist not a legislator, thankfully it’s not for me to decide”, but it absolutely is for her, as a woman – and a woman who has had an abortion, to decide. It is for each individual to exercise their right to decide. It is not for legislators to decide. Government refuses to regulate the banking industry, it ignores calls for regulation of the media, and it won’t intervene when big businesses evade their taxes – their ‘power to do’ is safeguarded. Women’s uterus’ on the other hand, are fair game. Why is our ‘power to do’ taken away from us and re-appropriated as ‘power exerted over’ in the hands of government? Make no mistake, this is a roll-back of women’s rights – a phrase we’ve used before and find increasingly relevant.

Ms Miller is right that the psychological impact of abortion, particularly late-term abortion, can be huge. However, the answer is not to restrict choice. The answer is to provide counselling services to help women make the best decision for them as individuals, and to help them get through that difficult time. Thus, Ms Miller should divert her attention and energy away from lowering the abortion limit, and instead seek to support the women’s sector in providing holistic services. Instead, members of her own party have sought to ban organisations which provide abortions from also offering counselling.

 Get involved, tweet your local MP with the following:

“@maria_millermp wants to lower the abortion limit to 20weeks. #RollBackOfWomensRights What are you going to do about it?”

(sorry if your MP is Maria Miller or Nadine Dorries)
 

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Natalie Gyte
Head of Communications
Women’s Resource Centre

Sep 07

Tomorrow, Saturday 8th Sept: An evening of music, food and drinks in North London’s Peace Garden - all proceeds go towards the next Million Women Rise march and activities in March 2013!

Tomorrow, Saturday 8th Sept: An evening of music, food and drinks in North London’s Peace Garden - all proceeds go towards the next Million Women Rise march and activities in March 2013!