Monday, March 08, 2010

Significant stats (5): 200 yrs before there is an equal number of women in Parliament, at the current rate

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Read this stat in excellent coverage of International Women's Day in The Independent on Sunday. Some more: just 19.5% of MPs are women; 3 million women in the UK suffer rape, domestic violence, trafficking, forced marriage or other violence; 90% of local authorities do not have a rape crisis centre; of 109 High Court judges only 15 are women; womens average net income per week is £180 compared to £231 for men; 20% of people belive it is sometimes acceptable for a man to hit or slap his girlfriend; 36% believe a woman is partly responsible for being raped if she is drunk; 83% of experts cited in news stories are men; 19% is the proportion of women in news stories portrayed as victims, compared to 10% for men...

The front page of the paper had many powerful quotes from a range of women. Views expressed include: recent generations lack of achievement; momentum of women's movement has stalled; women suffering more from cuts in public services; equal pay not achieved; sexism still common; no female editors of broadsheet newspapers; female director general of the BBC needed; one woman a day dies in childbirth; girls suffer circumcision and prostitution; women left for hours on their own in labour...

Great to see Green Party leader Caroline Lucas on The Independents list of 100 women who changed the world (though I'm sure Caroline would say that she has a lot more to do yet!!). I was especially pleased to see scientists Rosalind Franklin, who played a key role in idenifying the structure of DNA, Jane Goodall, who has done vital work on chimpanzees and Helen Sharman, the first Briton to enter space(who I met when she visited the science dept at a school where I was working) listed, but did not see scientist Rachel Carson author of Silent Spring, who should be there. Caroline said this on her blog about the Greens policies:

Today is...a fitting day for the Green Party to launch its manifesto for women.

We support the introduction of quotas to ensure that boards of major companies are at least 40% female, based on the model already successfully implemented in Norway, and currently being considered in France.

We would insist that all large and medium-size companies carry out equal pay audits and redress inequalities uncovered; and that the law be changed to make joint suits for equal pay cases simpler.

We also propose better provisions for maternity and paternity leave, with a focus on paid paternity, to ensure that responsibilities are shared more equally in a way that benefits both parents.

I am proud to be a part of the only political party in Britain that is explicitly committed to equality for everyone, and as part of International Women's Week, I'm delighted to be appearing on Question Time this Thursday - in front of an all-woman audience.

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