Friday 8th March was a day for the world to celebrate women.
I’ve written on this blog before – pretty comprehensively, I like to think – about what International Women’s Day is for and why it’s important, so I won’t do it again.
Instead, as Chair of Manchester Labour Women’s Forum, I made an intervention at Friday’s budget-setting council meeting about all the things making me angry this International Women’s Day. If you missed it – either because you weren’t there or because I was speaking too furiously fast to be heard – here it is:
It’s International Women’s Day today, as well as Angry Manchester Day, but I’ve found all the anger this morning a bit infectious, so I’d like to talk about some of the things that are making me angry.
I’m angry that women have been the hardest hit by the Tory-Lib Dem government’s freezing of child benefit; by the Tory-Lib Dem government’s cuts to childcare funding through Working Tax Credits; by the Tory-Lib Dem government’s decision to start charging for the use of the Child Support Agency; the decision to scrap the Health in Pregnancy Grant; and by the cuts to refuges and domestic violence charities that have seen Women’s Aid having to turn away over 200 women in danger in a single year.
Women make up the vast majority of victims of domestic violence, who will be hit by cuts to legal aid, and will find it harder to leave their partners thanks to welfare benefit cuts. Women are expected to make up 65% of the 710,000 redundancies this government has planned between now and 2017. Women in two-parent households will be discouraged from working under Universal Credit. And one-quarter of the victims of the Tory-Lib Dem government’s outrageously unfair bedroom tax will be lone parents, the vast majority of whom are women.
And as what I would like to think of as a final indignity, although I’m sure it won’t be, next month the Tory-Lib Dem government will introduce real term cuts to maternity pay, on the same day that they give millionaires a tax cut worth an average £100,000.
This is the Government’s Mother’s Day present – a hundred grand each to their own mothers and a maternity pay cut for the mothers of Manchester. I’m not sure about you, but I think my mom would have preferred something from Thornton’s.
We’ve heard today that this Government is not on the side of Manchester people. It’s certainly not on the side of Manchester women. And that’s why everyone in Manchester, especially women, needs to ask this group of Liberal Democrats, and John Leech MP, why they keep standing up for this government when this government is not standing up for us.