by Amy Jackson
Coalition cuts have resulted in massive unemployment for women. Of the 231,000 made redundant since the cuts were implemented, 193,000 are women. That is 84%. Worryingly, this attack on women’s employment has been given little to no airplay by traditional media, despite the fact that the number of women out of work now is the highest in 25 years. Worse still, this trend is likely to carry on as the government continues to bring the axe down on the public sector, where women make up 65% of the workforce. In November 2011, the Office of Budgetary Responsibility estimated that 710,000 jobs will be lost in the public sector between now and 2017.
The evidence showing that women are bearing the brunt of the cuts is easy to find. The Fawcett Society, who campaign for equality for women, say on their website:
‘Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that, since the end of the recession (at the end of 2009), women’s unemployment has been rising at a significantly disproportionate rate to men’s. In February 2012, men’s unemployment stood slightly below where it did back then (at 1.535 million) whereas women’s unemployment has increased by over 20% (from 945,000 to 1.14 million). In fact, over the past two years women have accounted for 100% of the increase in unemployment.’
Yet outside of the websites and press releases of women’s groups and trade unions, there is very little coverage of the issue. A very quick scan of news results on ‘Google News’ shows articles dealing specifically with women’s unemployment are few and far between, mostly making a passing reference to women while discussing the wider issues of unemployment as a whole. The lack of media attention means the issue is going unnoticed by the majority, and the government is not being held accountable for its attack on women workers.
Donna Govan, campaigner for Unison, said, ‘Having been signed up to all both the political blogs and the ‘feminist’ blogs, I’ve been concerned that this issues appears to be ignored by the political blogosphere because it is a women’s issue and ignored by the feminist channels because it is an employment issue. We simply can’t afford this silence, politically, economically and as a society.’
To combat this silence, the Netroots conference tomorrow will be holding a workshop on the issue – ‘The 84%: Starting the digital fight back’ . Focussing on how we can use digital channels to bring make the 84% a mainstream issue, the session aims find a way to move these redundancies from the personal to the political in a way that gets grabs the media’s attention, and brings this mass unemployment of women more in to the public arena. Left Out will be there, we hope you can make it too!
The session will take place at 11am, Saturday 30th June, at the Netroots Conference: Congress Centre, Great Russell St, London, WC1B 3LS
You can find out more details about Netroots and buy your tickets (only a fiver!) here.