Confronting challenges of female leadership means leading for all women, not just a few
Published 4 October 2017
Theresa May’s difficult speech today reminded us that she is doing what women do all over the country – the jobs that men don’t want. She is standing on a cliff edge, flanked by men who think the job she is doing is too difficult now but ready to push her off once the time is right.
It’s particularly disappointing then, to hear a speech from this female leader that fails entirely to understand or tackle the structural inequalities that hold all women back. While an energy price cap and five thousand new homes a year are welcome, they will not compensate for the gutting of social infrastructure that has taken place under the Conservatives. They will not tackle the things that make energy bills and housing less affordable for women.
We know that 86 percent of cuts since 2010 have fallen on women. And it is a scandal that this government allows a handful of men to siphon off billions of pounds from the public purse in tax evasion and avoidance, while all around us women are opening their wallets to repay the national debt.
Rather than correct this, Theresa May is pushing ahead with Universal Credit, a policy that has dire and specific consequences for women, who make up the majority of single parents that will be more than £2,000 a year worse off. She is pushing ahead with the heartless “rape clause” which imposes a two-child limit on universal credit recipients unless a woman can prove she has been raped.
She has failed to fill in the many gaps around her party’s social care policy, while continuing to assume that women across the UK will step in to do this work unpaid and undervalued. She has failed to address the shambolic roll-out of her party’s childcare policy, limited and underfunded and failing both parents and childcare providers.
Until she does, the British dream that Theresa May is offering to voters will be one that only men may dare to have.