Friday 10th November is Equal Pay Day, which marks the moment which women effectively stop being paid until the end of the year.
The full-time pay gap in the UK is 14.1% and if you factor in part-time work, the vast majority of which is done by women, it leaps to a shocking 18.4%.
We don’t think men's work should be valued more highly than women's - so why should we be working? We’re asking women across the UK to set their Out of Offices on Friday 10th November as a sign to the world that they won’t stand for this any longer.
How you can take part
Join our campaign on 10th November by setting your out of office to the following message:
SUBJECT LINE: Out of Office. For the rest of the year.
Not really, I’m just making a point.
Today is effectively the last day women in the UK are paid to work. Because of the gender pay gap the average woman is working for free until the end of the year.
So, if women aren’t getting paid, why should they work?
That’s why I’ve switched on my Out Of Office.
This is to raise awareness of the pay gap, which on average is 18.4% and for some women it’s even worse.
If like me, and the Women’s Equality Party, you think it’s time something changed, you can join in by copying this message and switching on your Out of Office too.
This Equal Pay Day, it’s time to get rid of the pay gap.
So why are we making a fuss?
The work women do, the industries they work in, and the caring responsibilities they generally shoulder are not valued by our society – not enough to pay them a fair wage. This is exactly what the Women’s Equality Party seeks to overturn.
We represent the women who are being paid unfairly and often not being paid at all – either for their domestic labour or care duties - or because they have been fired for getting pregnant.
Equal pay is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality and it creates the context for other inequalities, such as violence against women and girls and unequal access to health.
Though Equal Pay Day focuses on the full-time pay gap, WE focus on the aggregate pay gap always because it tells you more about the balance of power in our society.
The gap is even bigger for some women. For example, Black African women face a pay gap of 24%, while for Pakistani and Bangladeshi women it stands at 26.2%. Or women in their fifties, who face a pay gap of 26.6%. As for women with disabilities, it's impossible to know for sure as the data available is limited. What there is tends to compare disabled women with able bodied women, but does not scratch the surface of how this stacks up with able bodied men.
It’s time to change this. Set your out of office and make the world aware that this injustice has to end.
"Sexism in the gender pay gap is an offensive reminder of the way corporate culture sees women. For black women like me, it's double discrimination when race is factored in. In my experience, working doubly hard for less pay and recognition for the same or similar role as a male counterpart is the very antithesis to gender equality and job satisfaction."
- Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Lawyer and Founder of Women in Leadership publication
"Unfit for Office. As a woman with a disability, I am expected to be out of office all year. In the UK alone there are over one million people who are willing and able to work, but are systematically discriminated against during the job search. With recent and pending cuts to the Access to Work Scheme, it is becoming increasingly difficult for qualified and eager persons with disabilities to get the tools and assistive technology they need to do their jobs.According to the UK’s Work Capability Assessment, if you are unable to pick up a one pound coin off the floor you are “unfit for work or work related activity.”By government standards, both Stephen Hawking and myself fall into this category. Never mind our university degrees, our publications, our abilities we are, quite simply, ‘unfit.’In an age of technology, we can find fulfilling and appropriate work for those with massive physical limitations. It is our job to ensure the each person is able to reach their potential through creative solutions rather than dismissing people as ‘unfit.’ In 2017 we can do better.WE believe we need people of all abilities to make up a healthy, strong, and viable workforce that thrives in modern conditions. Let’s make sure that those who can and want to work are not simply viewed as ‘unfit.’"
- Athena Stevens, Playwright
"I'm out of office because I’ve been sacked for getting pregnant. My employer left me a voicemail to tell me that my contract was being pulled the day after I informed them I was expecting. The experience left me heartbroken and terrified. My confidence was shattered and I felt like my career was over. Financially I was in a mess, I had a mortgage to pay and now that my pregnancy was visible, applying for a new job felt impossible, at worst it felt deceitful. Losing that contract cost me £16,000, money I had already allocated to paying bills and saving up for maternity leave. The stress was so severe that it took its toll on my mental health and I was informed my pregnancy was high risk, a situation which prevented me from accessing justice and potentially recouping any financial loss. Pregnancy and maternity discrimination costs British women £147 million a year but these statistics don’t take into consideration the long term financial impact. Many women who encounter discrimination are forced to leave the labour market for good. For others, their confidence is so damaged by the experience that their career completely stagnates or they find employment in a position way below their skill level. As a country we are not utilising the skills and competencies of thousands of brilliant mothers, what a waste this is for us all."
- Joeli Brearley, Founder of Pregnant then Screwed
*The Women’s Equality Party encourages anyone taking part in the campaign to discuss it with the management in their workplace. With the disadvantages the women face in the workplace already we don’t want to give any employers any excuses to isolate their women employees. Please use your discretion when taking part.
WE pick our battles based on how much they matter, not how easy they are to win.
About the campaign
WE are campaigning to make abortion free, safe and legal in every part of the UK. WE are raising awareness of the unjust and arbitrary requirement for women to get permission from two doctors to terminate their pregnancy.
October 27 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act, a law that made abortions easier to access for millions of women in England, Scotland and Wales. The activists that made this possible saw it as a temporary fix, not a long term solution. Because the Act did not legalise abortion, and it did nothing to help women in Northern Ireland.
The current situation
In 2017, women in England, Scotland and Wales wishing to have an abortion still have to prove their pregnancy involves a bigger risk to their physical or mental health than terminating it. They still have to ask for permission from two doctors to end their pregnancy. They still risk prosecution.
In Northern Ireland, basic reproductive rights are so restricted that abortions are almost impossible to access. Abortions are only legal where the life or long-term physical/mental health of the person is at serious risk. There are no exceptions for rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormalities, and illegal abortion carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Nowhere in the United Kingdom do women enjoy full reproductive rights. This has to change and we are ready to lead that change.
WE are campaigning for full decriminalisation of abortion in every part of the UK and we stand in solidarity with women in Ireland. WE are demanding that abortion be moved out of criminal law and into healthcare.
What we've been doing
We marked the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act with a week of action. We called for Amber Rudd to change this outdated and patronising law.
During the first week, more than four thousand people signed a permission slip, 186,000 people connected with our campaign on Twitter, and we held a packed-out rally in London at which Sophie Walker joined a line up of inspiring activist speakers to reflect on the past, present and future of reproductive rights in the UK.
And on Friday 27th Hastings members delivered 406,108 permission slips to the Home Secretary’s office. They represent the number of times women in the UK have had to seek consent for an abortion in the past year alone.
How you can get involved
1) keep the pressure on the Home Secretary to change the law
WE have asked people to sign a permission slip that gives Home Secretary Amber Rudd permission to make abortion legal. On the anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act WE delivered 406,018 permission slips to the Home Secretary - representing the number of times permission was sought for an abortion in the last year alone.
View the permission slip used by doctors today to understand why women need to be trusted.
We need to keep up the pressure on Amber Rudd by building the numbers of signatures over the next few months. We still need your help with this:
2) Meet with other activists to plan our next action
Our members have asked us to take immediate action to update this law. When the 1967 Abortion Act was created, women could only have surgical abortions so they needed to be performed at clinics. But most women now have abortions by taking a pill. Forcing them to take the pill at a clinic can lead to painful miscarriages on their way home.
There is no need to put women through this. On the anniversary of the Abortion Act Scotland became the first country in the UK to allow women to take abortion pills in their own home. The Secretaries of State for Health in England and Wales also have the power to let women take the pills in their home with support from loved ones.
Over the coming weeks local members in England and Wales will be campaigning to highlight this injustice and call for change. Activists are gathering in meet-ups across England and Wales to plan our next action.
3) There's more to come
Stay in touch with us to find out more about our campaign as it unfolds. We will be in touch soon with the next exciting action. Together we can make this change happen.
If you'd like to know more, we've answered your frequently asked questions >>
In the wake of the BBC releasing its salaries, WE call on other broadcasters to do the sameRead more
Women's Day Off
In April 2016 Women’s Equality Party co-founder Catherine Mayer returned from a fact-finding trip to Iceland obsessed with an idea. WE should organise a Women’s Day Off. Head of Policy Halla Gunnarsdottir enthusiastically agreed.
The original Women’s Day Off was held in Halla’s home country, Iceland, in 1975. Ninety percent of the female population took the day off from paid and unpaid work in order to demonstrate the value of their labour. There was an immediate effect and a longer-term benefit: sexist attitudes became unacceptable overnight. Understanding that gender equality is also better for them, men began pushing for change too.
WE are orgainsing the Women’s Day Off in 2018 to coincide with the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, the Act that gave some women in the UK the vote.
That date was also chosen to reflect the intricate planning needed for a Day Off on the scale of Iceland’s. WE want all women who wish to do so to be able to participate. WE know many women have caring duties or are in low-paid jobs where they will not be easily permitted time off or may not be paid if they take it. The NHS would collapse without female staff. Iceland’s Day Off worked because employers and unions supported it.
In a world galvanised by recent events into a new spirit of activism, WE were part of the team behind the Women’s March on London on 21 January, when over 100,000 women, men and children took to the streets in a show of global solidarity against racism, sexism and misogyny.
WE welcome the call by the organisers of the Women’s March in the US for “A Day Without Women” on March 8 of this year. WE will march together on International Women’s Day as we march every day to make gender equality a reality.
WE look forward to working with the Women’s Marches and with anyone who wants to get involved for the 2018 Day Off. In 1975 a single day kick-started the process that made Iceland the world’s most gender equal country. Let’s build a Day Off in 2018 that catapults England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to the top of the gender equality tables.
With your help, this is going to be huge. And WE will help you to take action: keep an eye out for details of our activist training programme launching very soon.
Women’s Equality amendment has widest cross-party support in Article 50 debate
This week marked a step change in support for gender equality in Parliament, as an amendment WE tabled to Theresa May’s Article 50 legislation together with the Green Party received the widest cross-party support of any amendment to the government bill. The amendment, that seeks protections for women’s employment rights and ensures Parliament’s future sovereignty over equality legislation currently enacted through regulatory framework that falls outside its influence, received unprecedented cross-party support and was signed immediately by MPs from Labour, the SNP, Liberal Democrats, the SDLP and Plaid Cymru.
“In a week in which we’ve seen a Trump administration take executive action to roll back fundamental rights, it’s more important than ever to ensure we are protected against a bonfire of rights at home. Women have had to rely on the EU regulatory framework and the European Court of Justice to safeguard equal rights at work. Hard Brexit could mean the rolling back of those hard-won rights unless urgent action is taken to ensure responsibility remains in the hands of our Parliament to lead the way towards a more equal Britain” said Sophie Walker.
Notification of withdrawal from the EU kick starts a process that results in regulations, or so-called secondary law, being demoted to executive control, including employment and equality legislation. This means that changes to women’s rights, such as protections for pregnant workers, can be achieved without parliamentary scrutiny and oversight.
“We are talking about protecting rights for part-time workers and breastfeeding mothers. We need to safeguard the rights for parents to return to work after parental leave and to make sure pregnant women who work night shifts are not put at risk. If we are leaving the EU then it is only right that our parliament is afforded oversight of this vital legislation,” Walker said.
“The European Court of Justice has repeatedly had to challenge the decisions of our legislators, such as when UK courts ruled that pregnancy discrimination was not sex discrimination. It is essential that these decisions are transparent, and that our politicians are accountable to the people should they attempt to roll back women’s hard won rights.”
Caroline Lucas MP said:
“I’m pleased to have worked with the Women’s Equality Party on this amendment guaranteeing Parliamentary sovereignty over equality rights that are currently protected through secondary legislation. I urge MPs to add their names to this crucial amendment to ensure that the Brexit process doesn’t mean that the clock is turned back on gender equality.”
Dr Charlotte O’Brien, Senior Lecturer at York University said:
“Vital employment and equality rights are contained in secondary provisions. That means that two years from notification the executive could have a bonfire of rights even without a Great Repeal Bill, unless we replace the oversight of the EU legislature with that of Parliament.“
Sophie Walker added that the Women’s Equality Party would continue working with other political parties to ensure Brexit does not turn back the clock on gender equality. “We will insist that new laws and new trade deals are subject to intense scrutiny so that they serve to build up a more gender equal UK, rather than increasing inequalities.”
WE have been pushing for the Istanbul Convention to be ratified by Parliament since our party began. The time has come to double our efforts as we ask MPs to stand up for women’s rights.
The Third Reading will take place in the House of Commons on Friday 24 February 2017. Let's make sure the bill is passed - a major step towards ratfying the Convention.
In December, our members and supporters lobbied their MPs and 135 showed up and voted in favour of the most significant legal frameworks for tackling violence against women and girls.
Now for one final push!
We need 100 MPs to turn up to move the bill to next stage.
This legislation is needed because on average two women in England and Wales are killed every week by a current or former male partner, and at least one in five women have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.
The UK government signed a commitment to seeing through the Convention five years ago, but the government has failed to honour its promise. In that time, 616 women have lost their lives to gender-based violence.
WE need your support - act before 24 February
10 November is Equal Pay Day - the day after which women in the UK effectively work for free, because of the gender pay gap. Let's make this year's the last...
The Women’s Equality Party is ‘celebrating’ Equal Pay Day again with a current estimate that it will take us until 2069 at the current rate of progress to close the pay gap. No thanks! WE say it’s time for a new approach instead.
WE want equal pay NOW – time for a #TripleWhammy
“The UK’s 19 per cent pay gap is so entrenched because it’s matched by a productivity gap of 20 percent compared to other G7 countries, and the most expensive childcare in the Western world,” said Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party.
“For women to have equal pay in Britain we need to widen the conversation. This isn’t just about discrimination via your sexist boss; this is about discrimination via an education system that still encourages boys into highly-paid STEM careers and girls into clerical or caring roles with lower economic output, and via a society that pushes women out of the workplace when they become carers.”
“That can’t be fixed by limited legislation on equal pay. What we need is a triple whammy: a new, three-part approach to tackle a three-part problem and knock inequality out of the park.”
To make this Equal Pay Day the last one we have to mark, our #TripleWhammy approach includes:
Deal with workplace discrimination by insisting companies publish pay data that’s broken down by gender, ethnicity and disability as well as by pay, employment status and working hours and includes retention rates during and after parental leave.
Remodel our education system so that girls get an equal education too. All schools conduct a gender audit of their curriculum to ensure they are promoting role models that challenge gender stereotypes and offering quality, independent careers guidance that encourages girls to do science and boys to think creatively.
Invest in childcare. By moving to a single rate of pension tax relief at 25 percent WE can fund a £6.5 billion investment in childcare that would take average weekly costs down from £115 to £10. Also introducing shared parental leave that enables men to take time off work by breaking down cultural barriers and financial ones. So fathers get non-transferable 6 weeks of parental leave at 90 percent of pay.
“WE believe our plan will appeal to voters who want equal pay in this lifetime - not the next,” said Walker.
WE are showing the power of our collaborative approach, joining with leaders from all the UK’s major political parties to call for change on equal pay.
#NoSizeFitsAll challenges the fashion industry’s approach to body image and the impact this has on professional models and more widely on all women and girls.
Politics is stalling. WE are the start-up.
WE stand for every woman, and we start by listening. What do you want?
In 1996, The Women’s Communication Centre distributed postcards in banks, libraries, cafes and community centres across the UK asking women one simple question: “What do you want?”
Ten thousand women responded. The answers offered unprecedented insights into women’s thoughts, opinions and needs, and had a significant impact on the gender debate at the time. The project changed the political landscape and policy agenda, and fed into equalities legislation.
WE are doing it all over again.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this historic survey, WE are partnering with What Women Want 2.0, asking 'What do you want?' to a new generation of women. We will also hear from the women who responded in 1996 to understand what, if anything, has changed for them.
WE are offering women across the UK a blank space on which to share the realities of their lived experience. And WE will listen carefully to every response.
At a turning point in national politics, the views and experiences of British women are vital for shaping the UK’s next steps, yet recent debate has largely left women at the margins.
As the larger political parties continue to fumble over the “women question”, WE know that it’s much more straightforward: we ask them.
Make e-Quality a reality
On Monday (13 June) Parliament will debate the Policing and Crime Bill. Together with the Liberal Democrats, WE are putting forward amendments to protect victims of revenge porn.
Help make this a win for women.
What is revenge porn?
Revenge porn is the publication of explicit material portraying someone who has not consented for the image or video to be shared. Once images start circulating online, it is difficult to bring an end to the abuse. Often the posts include private information including the victim’s name, links to social media profiles, telephone numbers and addresses. Anonymous harassers then spread the material to further humiliate the victim.
Ninety per cent of victims of revenge porn are women. Nearly all of these women suffer significant emotional distress, and many are faced with further harassment and stalking.
What is the Women’s Equality Party doing about it?
WE are calling for improvements to the current law to prevent revenge porn and help victims get justice. Together with the Liberal Democrats, WE are calling for:
anonymity for victims to empower them to seek justice
compensation for victims
protection from those who promote, solicit or profit from revenge porn
WE are also monitoring the impact of the new Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 and WE are working with experts across the UK and in the US to design legislative proposals to tackle the epidemic scale of online abuse against women and girls.
What can I do about it?
You can immediately help us put an end to revenge pornography by encouraging your local MP to support our cross-party amendments. Use our email template to contact your MP this weekend ahead of the vote on Monday 13 June. Alternatively, you can tweet your local MP:
.@[INSERT TWITTER HANDLE OF YOUR LOCAL MP] @WEP_UK help put an end to #revengeporn by supporting amendment NC 46/47/61/62 to policing and crime bill #CtrlAltDelete
If you have been affected by revenge porn, contact the Revenge Porn Helpline from 10.00am - 4.00pm Monday to Friday on 0845 6000 459. Emails can be sent at any time to firstname.lastname@example.org.