Some reflections on International Women’s Day
The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #BalanceForBetter. On that theme, I attended an event this morning at The SR Group (parent company… Read more
The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #BalanceForBetter. On that theme, I attended an event this morning at The SR Group (parent company of Taylor Root and other legal recruiters) with the charity https://survivingeconomicabuse.org/ .
The charity campaign for greater awareness and protection of (predominately) women who are victims of economic abuse by partners or family members. They have successfully lobbied the government on the introduction of the Domestic Violence bill which is currently making its way through parliament.
The Bill puts in place a statutory definition of domestic violence for the first time, meaning that the police and other statutory bodies will be required to recognise and deal with victims of domestic abuse more appropriately. The charity has ensured that the definition includes not just physical violence but also “coercive control” (where the partner interferes with the woman’s ability to acquire, use or maintain economic resources such as money, housing transport, heating, food or clothing).
The event covered powerful case studies of women from all walks of life who have encountered economic abuse. For example a professional woman whose partner took out loans in her name to fund his lifestyle of expensive motorbikes and holidays whilst leaving his partner without enough money for food and basics for her and her children, ultimately leaving her with £58,000 of debt. You can read some other examples here.
The event also highlighted the impact of government policy on victims of economic abuse. For example, did you know that under Universal Credit, benefits are only paid to one member of the household? If a women is in a situation of coercive control, this can cause particular hardship as their partner will have even greater control over finances. There is the option to request that the payment is split between the two family members, however you can imagine that in many cases, requesting this may lead to further conflict (and potentially physical violence by an already-abusive partner). This is a clear demonstration of how Diversity in policy-making is key, to ensure that considerations like this can be factored in.
Women with complex immigration status can be particularly vulnerable, as they are fearful of obtaining medical assistance or approaching the police for help, in case their immigration status is questioned.
The event really brought home to me that International Women’s Day isn’t just about breaking the glass ceiling for women in the professional sphere. It is about recognising that women from all walks of life are impacted negatively in many and various ways, by government policy and societal norms and there is much we can do to help to raise awareness and support organisations like this to create a more equal society.
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Kathryn Dooks is an employment partner
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