The People’s Vote campaign, which is calling for the public to be allowed to vote on any final Brexit deal, has launched a new drive focused on women’s rights.
Speaking at the opening of the campaign on Monday, September 3, writer and activist Caroline Criado Perez claimed that Brexit was a “feminist issue”, and that calls for a second referendum were all about women’s rights.
“Right now EU law is what means British women receive equal pay for work of equal value,” she told the audience.
“It is EU law which means part-time workers’, 75 per cent of which are women, receive the same pay and pensions as full-time workers, and it’s EU law that means it isn’t cheaper for companies to discriminate against women, get on and pay a fine, than simply to treat them fairly.”
‘It’s Nothing Short Of A National Scandal’
Caroline Criado Perez speaks at the launch of Women for a People’s Vote. Image Credit: Jem Collins / RightsInfo
While the UK does now have specific protections in place in our own domestic laws, Caroline argued that there was still more to be done, and that Brexit could mean these rights could be scrapped in the name of “red tape”.
“No one is talking about this,” she added. “There are [also] other laws the EU hasn’t managed to pass. Women in the UK don’t get a single week of maternity leave at full pay, something the EU has been trying to change for years. And do you know why they haven’t been able to change it? In large part thanks to us.”
Currently, women are only entitled to 90 per cent of their normal earnings for six weeks, which then drops to £145.18 for the next 33 weeks (or 90 per cent of earnings if this is lower). An analysis by the Trade Union Congress also found that Britain ranked the worst for maternity pay in Europe.
No one is talking about this. These are all hugely pertient parts of the Brexit debate, and yet they’ve barely been mentioned.
Caroline Criado Perez
Criado Perez also pointed to research from People’s Vote that found Brexit would hit women’s pockets the most, as well as not being represented as part of the high-level discussions surrounding our final deal.
“These are all hugely pertinent parts of the Brexit debate, and yet they’ve been barely mentioned.
“Since the beginning of the 2016 referendum campaign, women have been sidelined from the debate. Women’s voices are not being heard, and the issues that affect women are not being discussed.
“Since the negotiations have started, nothing has changed. The failure to represent women’s voices in the Brexit debate is nothing short of a national scandal.”
‘We Need To Rise Up And Protect Our Rights’
Journalist and editor Rachel Johnson was also keen to frame Brexit as a rights issue for women, claiming it was “incredibly important women’s voices are heard”.
“The bad boys of Brexit want to take women back to the 50s and it’s absolutely essential that we rise up and we protect the rights that our forebearers and our mothers and grandmothers have fought for, that enables me to be standing here now, speaking to you.”
It strikes me that a people’s vote is the best option remaining on the table for all sides.
“Brexit no longer means Brexit, it appears that under the new deal, even people who wanted to leave are now saying, David Davis actually said, that what we are facing is worse than being in. Yet we have a woman prime minister who says looking again at the decision is a gross betrayal of democracy.
“It strikes me that a people’s vote is the best option remaining on the table for all sides. What is everybody frightened of?”