Report on the Charter for Women Conference London 29th October 2011

The conference opened with a welcome from Mary Davis, Chair of the Charter for Women, explaining some of the ethos and philosophy of the Charter (available at ).

This was followed by a presentation by Dr. Wendy Savage (available at ) who discussed the impacts of current Government cuts on women's health. Wendy recommended literature to read on this area: Birth and Power: Savage enquiry revisited (available at: ) and The plot against the NHS (available at:, which rather nicely details the progressive and deliberate destruction of the NHS under New Labour and now the Tories. Wendy has lectured on these topics elsewhere:

Read more: Charter for Women conference 2011

Health & Social Care Bill
House of Lords Committee stage
Briefing Note 3
Peers should vote for Amendment 3 on Wednesday 2nd November in order to stop the government abolishing the Secretary of State’s duty to provide the health service in England and to protect a comprehensive health service for England
We are at a critical moment in the debate over the government’s wish to abolish the duty of the Secretary of State to provide the health service in England.
We are concerned that the House of Lords should not accept abolition of this duty when it continues its debate on Clause 1 of the Health and Social Care Bill on Wednesday 2nd November 2011. To do so would undermine a comprehensive service because it would facilitate selection of patients and services by commissioners and providers.
There are four positions:1
(1) The government wants to abolish the duty. If Clause 1 is allowed to stand this will happen (see Appendix).
(2) Amendment 5, tabled by Labour and some cross benchers, is a minor amendment to Clause 1. It will not prevent abolition of the duty.
(3) A Liberal Democrat/Labour/cross-bench amendment would preserve the duty (Amendment 3), as requested by the Constitution Committee. It would basically keep the same words that have been in place since the 1946 National Health Service Act. Crucially the amendment acts as a bridge between the duty to promote in section 1(1) and the duty to provide in section 3(1) of the National Health Service Act 2006 Act. It would also lay the necessary foundation for further essential changes to the Bill.
(4) Lord Mackay of Clashfern has tabled two amendments that are reported to have the support of government and some Liberal Democrat and cross-bench peers.

Read more: Heath & Social Care Bill

Women constitute half the working population in Britain and yet the gap between men‟s and women‟s earnings is widening despite the fact that girls perform better than boys in public examinations. (55% of girls gain five or more A-C grades at GCSE compared with 44% of boys.)

Women over 21 have had the right to vote since 1928 and yet only 27% of local authority councillors are women, 18% of all MPs and 24% of MEPs are women. In the home, up to one in 10 women experience domestic violence each year, one in four will experience this type of abuse at some point in their lifetime. An incident of domestic violence takes place in Britain every six to 20 seconds.

The oppression of women is consistently denied or trivialised by the mass media and the state. New Labour claims that they have made great progress to equalise opportunity for women – the facts do not bear this out. On the left, there is a tendency to subsume women‟s issues within the general class struggle, or to relegate them to a secondary position. The right have always trivialised or ignored our concerns.

Read more: A Charter for Women

In society

  • Highlight the feminisation of poverty and campaign to reverse cuts in welfare state and public services.
  • Expose the ideologies that are used to perpetuate women?s inequality (for example, the notion of „family values? and the „family wage?).
  • Draw attention to the role of the media and other cultural agencies in shaping gender identities that reinforce the unequal relationships between men and women.
  • Campaign for greater support for lone mothers, carers and women subjected to domestic and other violence.
  • End the oppression of Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans women
  • Improve access and rights to abortion.
  • Ensure that women and girls are entitled to the full range of free and high quality educational provision (from nursery to university) and subject choice.
  • End women pensioner poverty by paying men and women equal State Pensions and restoring the link to average earnings or prices, whichever is the higher

    Read more: Charter Points