The Fawcett Society says that in the age of austerity women face a triple jeopardy: cuts to jobs, cuts to services and benefits, which women generally use more, and being left to “fill the gaps” that services and benefits no longer reach, such as caring for older people. Their chief executive Anna Bird has said that women are the “Shock absorbers for the cuts”
There is evidence that women are finding this recession tough and that this will have a long term impact on the future for themselves and their families?
Women’s unemployment is at a 25 year high of 1.12 milion; a quarter, over 250,000, have been unemployed for more than a year. The rise has been driven in part by changes to benefit eligibility for lone parents. In November 121,450 lone parents were on JSA 50% up on the previous year. But it is not just lone parents who are swelling the figures, there has been a big rise among older women between the ages of age 50-64, where the figures rose by 20,000 in the last quarter. This is has long term consequnces for the individual and the government, because it is precisely this point when many women build up their pension contributions. With out work they face a lower standard of living now and when they are older – with a greater reliance on benefits.
This rise in women’s unemployment affects families too becasue it has been the rise of women’s employment that has driven the increase in family incomes over the last 40 years. Between 1968 and the financial year of 2008-2009, more than a quarter of all growth in household wealth came from women working, and just 8 per cent from men.
The government is proposing a Private sector led recovery, but we need to remember that the gender pay gap is twice as high in the private as public sector – women earn around 18% less here compared to 9.2% less in the public sector
For those in work there are tough time ahead – most public sector jobs have a pay freeze, In work tax credits have been frozen, child benefit which is usually paid to the woman has been frozen, but inflation has gone up by about 8% in the last two years. So for many people in work the value of their wage has fallen