Engender, Close the Gap, Scottish Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Convention, Zero Tolerance, and Scottish Refugee Council work across a broad range of issues towards women’s equality. We work on women’s political equality, women’s economic equality, on enabling women to speak to government, on violence against women, and with refugee and asylum-seeking women. Over the last year, in all of the varied contexts in which we work, there has been steadily increasing alarm at the impact of the UK government’s welfare reform programme on women in Scotland.
Women did not enjoy equality with men in Scotland before welfare reform. Even a complete roll back of the changes that the UK government has made, and proposes to make, would not ensure that women had equal access to resources, decision-making, and physical autonomy and safety. What is very clear to us as women’s organisations is that welfare reform’s grotesquely disproportionate impact on women demands a gendered response. We are concerned that the Scottish Government’s approach to welfare reform mitigation does not take account of the complexities of women’s lives, nor the interrelated changes to social security programmes that are placing women’s economic and social rights in such peril.
This joint paper summarises the way that women will be particularly affected by welfare reform measures and makes recommendations to the Scottish Government on how to mitigate this harm. It also highlights stories that are emerging from women’s organisations and groups, about the impacts of reforms. It is this documenting of daily realities and of growing anger, fear and stress that is the basis of this call to action.
Added: February 5, 2015