UK Joint Committee on Women

The Committee has continued to work closely sharing our learning and experiences through regular skype calls. Brexit has been a focal point of our discussions and we have presented our concerns for gender equality and women’s representation to the Government. We are currently exploring with the EWL how our membership will be impacted after Brexit. We are hopeful that we will be able to be part of the Lobby in some way.

At the last Board meeting Emma Ritch, Engender in Scotland and EWL alternate for UK Joint Committee on Women, joined the meeting via skype and talked about Universal Basic Income (UBI). UBI is being discussed in many circles, in Europe and elsewhere, but there is never a gender perspective. This was an opportunity for us to come together and begin to build a transformative feminist perspective and to start thinking about structuring care responsibilities into the debate. Emma presented the current pro and critical feminist perspective of UBI. We have no idea of the cost implications and no full UBI trials have been piloted. Now is the moment for feminist organisations and feminist economists to engage more deeply in this debate. This will be a feature of the Feminist Economics Working Group of which Emma is a member.

We have continued to provide the UK perspective to EWL consultations including the Work-Life Balance Directive and supported their Campaigns Loud and United and One Billion Rising.

In January we held our annual meeting at NIWEP offices in Belfast. We took the opportunity to meet with women’s organisations in Northern Ireland. It provided an opportunity for us to share information about EWL and its work. A very energising debate followed around the topical issue of Brexit. We had some interesting thinking around the north south perspective and that we should think about a five nations approach.  We are also thinking about trying to convene conferences in each of our nations late spring/early summer to contribute to the campaign momentum not to allow Brexit to negatively impact women’s rights. We also joined in a debate on four issues from a specific NI perspective – abortion, VAWG, welfare reform and institutional mechanisms. Finally we spent time on the CEDAW and the SDGs and our individual plans for participating in CEDAW and how we can bring this work together and present a UKJCW response. The dialogue continues to develop action focused strategy.

At our UKJCW meeting that followed we continued to explore the key issues for 2018 and agreed how and where we needed to focus our attention and resources to ensure we make essential responses where required and influence outcomes.