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Women's Rights must not be lost under Brexit

Sue Cohen, writes in: http://policybristol.blogs.bris.ac.uk/2017/03/14/womens-rights-gained-under-eu-law-must-not-be-lost-in-brexit/?platform=hootsuite

Much of the debate in the UK, pre and post the referendum, has been on the single market and freedom of movement. Gender has been all but cleansed from the Brexit political and media discourse, with barely a mention of investment in women’s equality, the social infrastructure and the institutions that might guarantee progressive gains from gender mainstreaming.

 

The EU Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights is a significant institution in this respect, and one we will lose upon Brexit. The Committee helps to process legislation on equal treatment adopted by EU institutions, invites transnational lobbying on women’s issues, and investigates particular issues and concerns that affect women.  It does this through commissioning research and reports that further gender mainstreaming in the funding programmes of the European Commission. (1)

Critically, the UK, has no comparable influential institution. The Women and Equalities Committee is a new select committee and its influence is not embedded in the decision-making structures and funding mechanisms across government. The Women’s Commission was closed down by the Coalition Government, whilst the influence of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has been eroded over time, with significant cuts in staff and funding and thus significant limitations on its ability to deliver strategic change.

Gender mainstreaming and the positive promotion of gender equality are barely represented by the public sector’s duty to undertake equality impact assessments and to curb discrimination. And so, new legislation is required, together with empowered institutional bodies, scrutiny across all government departments, and civic participation in decision making. This has been recognised by the Women and Equalities Committee that recently invited written evidence on ensuring strong equalities legislation in preparing for an EU exit. Many of us responded, alerting the committee to the dangers ahead, knowing that without political and institutional commitment at all levels of decision-making, women’s equality indicators with regard to equal pay, low income, vocational training and caring responsibilities, will deteriorate even further. The Committee has responded positively to wide-ranging submissions, but it remains to be seen how the government will respond, beyond the assertion that equality legislation will apply once the UK has left the EU.

Read the full article at: http://policybristol.blogs.bris.ac.uk/2017/03/14/womens-rights-gained-under-eu-law-must-not-be-lost-in-brexit/?platform=hootsuite

20 March 2017