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Women and the Cuts: A toolkit for campaigners

The TUC and Coventry Women's Voices have produced an invaluable toolkit for challenging the disproportionate effect of cuts on women

When the Daily Telegraph reports the head of the Women’s Institute saying the spending cuts are hitting women disproportionately, the Government should realise that its problems with women are about more than just perception.

Women can see in their own lives the impact of cuts to jobs, benefits and public services. Reports by the Fawcett Society, TUC and Women’s Budget Group have all highlighted the way the cuts are hitting women hardest.  

Local women’s groups have already started to report on the impact of the cuts on women in their area. In April 2011 Coventry Women’s Voices, in partnership with the Centre for Human Rights in Practice at the University of Warwick, published Unravelling Equality: a human rights and equality impact assessment of the spending cuts on women in Coventry.  A few weeks ago Bristol Fawcett published Cutting Women Out in Bristol, which drew on the Coventry report to look at the impact of the spending cuts on women in Bristol.  The reports have provided powerful evidence of what the cuts mean for women in two UK cities that has been used in local and national campaigning.

Now women’s groups, trade unions and others have an invaluable tool to replicate what Coventry Women’s Voices and Bristol Fawcett have done in towns and cities across the country. The TUC and Coventry Women’s Voices have drawn on the work done in Coventry to produce a toolkit for unions and local groups wanting to do a human rights and equality impact assessment of the cuts on women in their locality.

The toolkit looks at the impact of the cuts in eleven key areas: Employment, Education and training, Housing, Welfare reform, Health, Social care, Services for children and young people (and their families), Legal aid, Transport, Violence against women, Women’s voluntary organisations

For each area it provides an over-view of what cuts are happening and how these cuts will affect women, including the impact on specific groups of women such as BAME women or disabled women. It then shows how to research the likely local impact of these cuts, giving links to sources of national data that can be broken down by area, suggestions for where to look for local data and a guide to carrying out local consultations.

The toolkit also contains guides to promoting the findings of local research through campaigning, lobbying and media work.

Unions and voluntary groups will be able to use this toolkit to provide evidence of what the cuts will mean for women in their area.  With many of the cuts having been devolved to local councils, primary care trusts and other local public bodies this local evidence is vital for anti-cuts campaigns.

The toolkit is being published to coincide with today's TUC Equality Deficit conference on the impact of the cuts on equalities – watch the live stream.

Mary-Ann Stephenson is Chair of Coventry Women's Voices.


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