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Gender Equal-Economy: We want to hear from CEOs and third sector leaders

Our Director, Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, wants to hear from other charity leaders who would like to help to create policies for a gender-equal society.

Mary-Ann Stephenson

A fifth of the population (more than 14 million people) live in poverty. More than 4.5 million of these are children. One and a half million people are destitute, unable to afford basic essentials.

These figures are shocking, but perhaps not surprising to CEOs in the third sector. For many of us, the issues we address through our work often stem from poverty that has been caused by ongoing inequality made worse by a decade of austerity.

We work to support the communities and individuals who have been impacted the worst. However, structural inequality is the overarching issues that we are all working to address and change.

At Women’s Budget Group we have spent over 30 years looking at how economic policies impact women and men differently. We are probably best known for our reports on the Budget each year. We look at how money is raised, how money is spent, who gains and who loses. With the Runnymede Trust, we showed how austerity policies since 2010 hit women harder than men, with single mothers, disabled and black and ethnic minority women the hardest hit.

You only have to look at the social security system to understand this.

Last year we spoke to third sector organisations supporting women experiencing domestic abuse about their interaction with the Social Security system for a report we published with Surviving Economic Abuse and the End Violence Against Women coalition.

We found that the social security system was failing survivors of domestic abuse. Universal Credit, Housing benefit alongside no recourse to public funds policies are trapping women in violent relationships and often pushing them into poverty when they do leave. When we know that the majority of people who rely on the social security system are women, and women are the overwhelming majority of victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence, we need a social security system that takes violence against women into account.

When social security policies such as this exist, there is a real concern about how effective the Domestic Abuse Bill will be in protecting women from violence and abuse.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. We can do things differently.

That’s why we launched our Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy. The commission aims to develop a suite of alternative economic policies to promote gender equality in the UK. We believe that in to create an economy that works for everyone we need to create alternative policies that will challenge and dismantle structural inequality.

As part of our evidence gathering process, we are keen to speak to CEOs and third sector leaders in their area of expertise to explore alternative policies that you believe the Commission should consider that can help to achieve gender equality.

In the last year we have travelled across the UK, hearing from women’s and equalities organisations, and calling for evidence on four areas: paid and unpaid work, social security and taxation, public services, and the enabling environment required for a gender-equal economy.