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Network Priorities

Gender Power Gap

Women are concerned that the decisions which affect their lives are largely being taken by men. In public policy: many local Councils are dominated by men, particularly in the Shire Counties of the South West; the appointment of women to the management boards of public bodies is low, particularly to the paid positions which make such appointments feasible for disadvantaged women; the number of women in Parliament is low and the number in Government is laughably low, with those involved being largely ignored in developing policy. At work: supervisors and managers are largely men, even where the workforce is largely women; there remain prejudicial attitudes amongst many men against being supervised or managed by a woman; boards of directors are largely men. In the home: more men than women are the main earner; more women than men suffer abuse from their partner; more men than women determine where they move to follow job opportunities. In education: advice and guidance is still steering girls and women into stereotypical work; boys still dominate in technical classrooms; girls are still abused by boys and are often pressured into sexual relationships.

Economic Inequality

The low pay economy of the South West, the expectation that women will be the prime carers, continued prejudice and occupational segregation, and inadequate public transport systems, all conspire to give a persistent pay gap between women and men which varies across our region from close to the national average in Cornwall to upwards of 30% in the richer parts of the region. This translates into a massive income gap in retirement, being exacerbated by changes in the tax and benefit system which will cause regression to the 'dependent woman', 'male earner model' and reduced pension contributions for women (private and state). Those same tax and benefit changes are reducing the incomes of many women, both lone parents and those with partners.

Personal Safety and Security

Many women feel unsafe in the home and in the street, particularly when dark. Mitigation is important, including rape crisis centres and support services for sufferers of domestic violence. However, women tell us they would like more emphasis on prevention. They would like the streets to feel safe, with more police and fewer areas taken over by threatening gangs and drunks. They would like less acceptance of the objectification of women, with non-licencing of sex and lap-dancing venues, for example. They would like better use of the education system to change the culture of violence against women amongst boys and young men. They would like better prosecution and curbing of abusive men.