We have a cost of living crisis currently, with inflation hitting a 30 year high of 5.5% as reported in the Independent Newspaper. We are also experiencing the fastest rent rises in five years, with the cost of renting rising by 2% in 2021, as researched by the Office of National Statistics. It is also shocking to hear that, it has been evidenced that over one million people went without food for the whole day.
What is the significance of this crisis on women? The Fawcett Society have continuously recognised that women are struggling financially because of the Gender Pay Gap, women are still more likely to be in low paid and low skilled jobs and the cost of childcare is considerably high. Single women, in particular, will feel the consequences. Research in this area, has been undertaken by Dr Sara Reis, Deputy Director of the Women’s Budget Group. According to data gathered by Joseph Rowntree Foundation, low-income individuals who live alone will spend the most on gas and electricity bills (33% of their income after housing costs). I suspect women who are high earners will still be at a disadvantage as a single person more than their male colleagues.
The Ethnicity Pay Gap Campaign recently produced a research report, The Impact of The Ethnicity Pay Gap on Black Women in the UK, which found that 52 % of Black women lose out by as much as £10,000 per year due to wage inequalities. Also in the report, it identifies the challenges Black women are facing when it comes to promotion. Black women are being overlooked for promotion and are not seeing salary increases, when their white colleagues have been offered promotions and salary increases. The McGregor-Smith Review (2017) reported that Black women were less able to secure opportunities for employment that match their skills and abilities with many being over qualified for the position.
The impact of the living crisis highlights the many challenges that women are currently facing. International Women’s Day 2022 is about #BreakingTheBias. This can mean many things to different people. Today I hope people are able to demonstrate openly what it means to them. I know there are many events happening today and through the week, some highlighting specific issues and others taking a more broader approach. I would like to use today to praise and validate the women who took part in the research, conducted by Susan Baker and Myself. They have contributed to #BreakingTheBias by sharing their experiences with us and expressing their desire for change. Within the report there are recommendations to allow #BreakingTheBias to become a reality. These recommendations are not exclusively to reduce bias against Black women. All women will benefit if these recommendations are taken forward.
#BreakingTheBias should not be seen as a tagline, it should be seen as an ACTION!
Many thanks to Gloria Mills from UNISON for giving me the idea for this article.