Visible Women

Women’s Daily Dispatch: All the news you need to know on 17/1/18

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Moya Crockett
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As part of our Visible Women initiative, brings you the Women’s Daily Dispatch: your new daily digest of international news relating to women. It’s the good, bad, inspiring and urgent stories you need to know from around the world, all wrapped up in one bitesize piece. 

The biggest news stories on Wednesday 17 January involve the ongoing mystery of the gender pay gap, a win for pro-choice activists, and a new campaign to increase the number of women in Parliament. Plus, women in Poland gear up for a new round of pro-choice protests. 

Two-thirds of Britain’s gender pay gap is ‘unexplained’, says ONS

Labour has pledged to end the gender pay gap by 2030.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has said that around two-thirds of the UK’s gender pay gap cannot be explained by commonly cited factors such as the relative absence of women in senior positions and the fact that many women work part-time.

The gender pay gap currently stands at 9.1%, according to ONS figures released in October, meaning that the average man in the UK earns more than the average woman. Some of this gap is down to the fact that more men are employed in senior positions, while more women work part-time, which tends to mean that they earn less per hour.

However, a new analysis by the ONS found that when these factors were adjusted for, they only accounted for 36.1% of the median hourly pay gap – leaving 63.9% of the pay gap ‘unexplained’. The ONS said that pay discrimination may be behind some, although not all, of the rest of the gap.

Read more on this story via the Financial Times

Feminist campaigners call for changes in UK’s political culture 

Labour MP Jess Phillips is backing the Centenary Action Group’s demands

A new coalition of feminist activists, charities and MPs is calling on the UK government – as well as individual political parties – to address the nation’s political “systems and culture”, in order to encourage more women into politics.

The Centenary Action Group is backed by organisations including Women’s March London and Amnesty International UK, as well as Labour MP Jess Phillips and Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack. It says that issues including online abuse, sexist attitudes, sexual harassment and inadequate parental leave are currently deterring women from entering politics, and these problems will have to be tackled if the UK wants to achieve gender equality in its political system.

“Systems and culture have to change,” said Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, who backs the campaign. “Unless they do, we risk the 2018 centenary’s being a missed opportunity. Our system of politics is failing to be relevant to women’s lives, actively putting them off.”

Read more on the story here

London council set to ban anti-abortion protesters from gathering outside clinic

A blue plaque outside the first Marie Stopes clinic in London

Ealing Council has moved to ban people from protesting outside a Marie Stopes clinic following almost 25 years of anti-choice demonstrations. Campaigners, led largely by anti-abortion group The Good Counsel Network, have been accused of “harassing” and “intimidating” people as they enter the clinic, which provides abortions, vasectomies and health screenings.

Ealing councillors originally backed a ban in October, after nearly 4,000 local residents signed a petition against the protesters. Now, the council has voted in favour of the next stage of getting the ban enforced. An eight-week public consultation on the ban will be held from 29 January.

“Ealing Council is committed to ending the intimidation and harassment faced by those seeking legally available medical support,” said council leader Julian Bell.

“Since Ealing first raised this issue, it has become clear that behaviour of this kind is happening at clinics across the country. We need ministers to come forward with a national solution to this problem, giving councils and police appropriate powers to prevent intimidation and distress.”

Read more on the story here. For an interview with Anna Veglio-White, one of the women who behind the campaign to get the Ealing protests banned, click here

Women in Poland set to protest new abortion restrictions

Women protest tightening of restrictions of abortion in Poland, October 2017

The UK has seen a rise in anti-choice protests in recent years - but overall, attitudes towards abortion in this country remain relatively liberal. That’s not the case in Poland, which in 2016 saw hundreds of thousands of women take to the streets after the government proposed an all-out ban on abortion.

As a result of the mass demonstrations, dubbed the Black Monday protests, the Polish government eventually decided against a total ban on abortion. However, it has now been reported that tens of thousands women in Poland are set to protest again, after the government chose to proceed with a bill that would ban the abortion of sick foetuses.

Under the proposed bill, which has not yet been passed, it would be illegal for women to abort foetuses that displayed severe or fatal foetal impairments. According to Amnesty International, this would “force women to carry non-viable pregnancies to term, endanger their physical and mental health, and force them to give birth to children often with no chances of survival”.

You can read more on this story at The Independent

Throughout 2018, Stylist is raising the profiles of brilliant women past and present – and empowering future generations to follow their lead – with our Visible Women campaign. Find out more about Visible Women here.

Images: iStock / Rex Features