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Women and the EU Letter to MP

Following the well-attended event held by Clare Moody MEP in December 2016, FPSW Chair has sent a letter to her MP seeking clarification on issues affecting women in the negotiations on Brexit and consequential UK Government policies. It says:

The impact on Women of the UK leaving the EU

I am concerned that the discussions and information about the exit negotiations have ignored issues around equalities for UK citizens, including women’s equality. Women stand to lose a lot of the progress made over decades unless specific consideration is given to a number of different aspects. For example:

 

  1.     EU funding through both targeted programmes[1] and more general development funding streams[2] have benefitted social infrastructure in a way not currently replicated by direct UK funding. Gender mainstreaming is a requirement of such EU funding streams.
  2.     Gender balance in decision making in politics, company boards, funding project committees etc has been strongly supported by EU policy and research programmes and there is also a strong Women’s Committee at the EU level with direct access into policy and Parliamentary work. Despite the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty the same is not the case in the UK and there is a danger that gender mainstreaming will be abandoned once we leave the EU.
  3.     Many of the EU Directives which support women’s equality, particularly in employment, are incorporated into UK legislation through Regulation rather than primary Statute[3]. Such Regulations are in danger of being lost in the process of untangling the UK from EU Directives; there is already evidence of recent UK Governments watering down aspects of the Equality Act 2010 which were not underpinned by EU Directives.

Please can you tell me what consideration is being given to these issues in the developing negotiations and plans for leaving the EU? In particular:

  1.     Will UK development funds which replace those from the EU contain similar strong gender mainstreaming requirements?
  2.     Will women’s groups in the UK have more status, access to resources (including research funding), and a legally defined role in policy making to compensate for the loss of these at the EU level?
  3.     How will Regulations supporting women’s equality be brought into UK Statute once they are no longer underpinned by EU Directives, in a way that they become subject to rigorous Parliamentary Scrutiny?

Many thanks for your help in this,


[1] Such as Daphne (aimed at protecting women from violence and abuse) and Horizon 2020 (research and innovation driving economic growth and creating jobs with a strong gender dimension)

[2] ESIF’s Social Fund and Regional Development Fund promote equality in access to employment, career progression, reconciliation of work and private life, the provision of childcare, etc.

[3] For example maternity and paternity provisions, flexible work, agency work, part time work protections, equal pay regulations, working time aspects of health and safety legislation.