The past two weeks have seen Britain’s long-running Brexit drama transform into a crisis. Jo Johnson quit as MP and minister, citing ‘national interest’. Commons speaker John Bercow has promised he would allow ‘additional procedural creativity’ if necessary to enable parliament to block the prime minister from ignoring the law. Parliament has been prorogued – a move ruled ‘unlawful’ and ‘clandestine’ by a senior Scottish judge. The question for us, though, is this: whichever way the current political turmoil unfurls, how will it impact women and girls in the UK?
Operation Yellowhammer report confirms post-Brexit fears for women
The Women’s Budget Group and Fawcett Society have long warned of the economic impact of Brexit on women – and their worst fears have been confirmed in the government’s newly released Operation Yellowhammer report.
‘Low income groups will be disproportionately affected by any price rises in food and fuel,’ reads the report, an issue that will hit women harder as they’re more likely to be economically worse-off, and more likely to manage household budgets.
The report also warns that ‘an increase in inflation following EU exit would significantly impact adult social care providers due to increasing staff and supply costs, and may lead to provider failure.’ Women make up the majority of those needing care, and those providing it, while social care remains in crisis with 1.4 million people’s needs currently unmet, responds the Women’s Budget Group.
Prorogation mustn’t delay domestic abuse reform
After suffering setback after setback over the past few years (cc: Theresa May’s 2017 general election), in July the domestic abuse bill was finally introduced to parliament. Now the concern is that prorogation will once again put the brakes on the introduction of long-overdue laws to give survivors ‘critical protections and support’. In a letter to the prime minister, Women’s Aid, Refuge, Imkaan and the Centre for Women’s Justice, among others, sought assurances that the legislation wouldn’t be dropped.
Domestic violence murders have surged to a five-year high
Case in point when it comes to the critical need for new domestic abuse legislation: 173 people were killed in domestic violence-related homicides last year, according to data obtained by the BBC – an increase of 32 deaths from 2017. Liverpool University criminologist Professor Sandra Walklate notes the weapon used commonly in street murders is equally prevalent in the home, describing women as ‘invisible victims of knife crime’.
The misplaced feminism of Hasbro’s Ms Monopoly
It’s all fun and games until Hasbro replaces the Monopoly man with ‘Ms Monopoly’, touts it as a ‘celebration of women entrepreneurs and inventors’, and forgets to mention that Monopoly was actually created by a woman. In 1904, feminist and progressive Elizabeth Magie received a patent for The Landlord’s Game, in which players roll a dice to advance along a path composed of 40 spaces around a board – just like modern Monopoly. Magie’s role in the game’s development has slowly been diminished and Hasbro instead credits Charles Darrow, who sold Monopoly to the Peak Brothers in 1935.
In this new utopian world of misguided board game feminism, women players also start with more money, and collect more money when they pass ‘go’. Gender pay gap sorted!
Apple made Siri deflect questions on feminism
Another day, another global corporation proving its inability to engage in a normal, coherent way with feminism and gender equality: this time leaked papers have revealed Apple made Siri deflect questions on ‘sensitive topics’ such as feminism and the #MeToo movement. Developers were advised to rewrite responses in one of three ways: ‘don’t engage’, ‘deflect’ and finally ‘inform’, writes the Guardian.
There’s no room at the top for women scientists
Women make up half of students in the life sciences, but only one in four professors, according to data from 500 scientific institutions worldwide.
Speaking to the BBC, Dr Jessica Wade of Imperial College London, who champions women in physics but wasn’t connected with this particular study, said: “There is no point in encouraging more girls into science if the system is set up to exclude them,”
“Improving gender balance in science will take institutional commitments to support women in their applications for promotion, act when there are reports of sexual harassment or bullying and make work allocation more transparent.”