WE respond to today's Autumn Statement which excludes women's full participation in our economy.
Published 23 November 2016
Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, responds to the Autumn Statement:
Today we heard our new Chancellor promise “an economy that works for everyone” - while announcing measures that exclude half the population from full participation in that economy.
Yet again, our government has announced investment projects that fail to include women, while expecting them to continue to shoulder the disproportionate burden of years of cuts.
Yet again, the offer made by our Chancellor today was jobs for the boys, and fiscal discipline for women.
Our government cannot aspire to close the yawning productivity gap that is hampering this country so long as it considers investment to be limited to physical infrastructure. This government continues to overlook the massive economic promise of adequately-funded childcare which would go a long way to boosting productivity and freeing women to contribute fully to our economy. Again, investment in health and social care is nowhere on our Chancellor’s list. It’s time the government took notice of the social infrastructure that holds this country up and committed to investing in the caring economy.
An economy built around men is not an inevitability, but a political choice. Today’s budget lacked any understanding of how these measures will affect women’s lives. The Chancellor spoke about the productivity gap without recognising how it is linked to the pay gap. Both are the result of structural barriers that diminish half of the population and with that, the nation’s economic promise.
There was one reference to women’s lives: the £3 million funding reserved for women’s charities. Still, that token investment - paid for by women themselves through an unjust tampon tax - is useful only in that it masks a lack of sustainable funding. Three million pounds is a drop in the ocean when women’s services are on their knees.
Women in this country need an alternative - and this weekend, at the Women’s Equality Party’s first conference, I’ll be focusing on a vision for our economy that sees women, too.