“We hear daily about the struggles of women in Ukraine facing bombing and violence, or in many cases fleeing with their families for safe haven elsewhere… it is heart-breaking to hear the situations faced by too many women from across the world seeking refuge in Britain who face a struggle for survival.”
By Yasmine Dar, Labour NEC
This International Women’s Day, more than ever, I am thinking about women around the world facing war, racism, violence, hunger and the increasing impacts of climate change. But I am also celebrating the women resisting, fighting back and working hard for their communities to build a better society.
It has undoubtedly been a difficult year, particularly for women. It is just over a year since Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a serving police officer. The situation has not improved nearly enough. Women continue to suffer abuse and violence and there is too little prospect of justice. Only 2.9% of reported sex offences resulted in charges in the year to September 2021, according to Home Office figures. The prosecution rate for rape cases only 1.3%. And the shocking racism and sexism exposed by the recent Independent Office for Police Conduct demonstrated the desperate need to fight back against misogyny in our public institutions, particularly in the Police.
We hear daily about the struggles of women in Ukraine facing bombing and violence, or in many cases fleeing with their families for safe haven elsewhere. Of course this is a familiar story, and it is heart-breaking to hear the situations faced by too many women from across the world seeking refuge in Britain who face a struggle for survival, if indeed they get through the journey. And we think of many other women across the globe in places such as Yemen, Palestine and Kashmir who face a daily struggle for their basic human rights. It is particularly distressing to hear of the situation for women in prison in Palestine, but inspiring to hear of the ongoing heroic struggles against evictions.
At home we continue our fight against the most vicious Tory government. After two years of pandemic, there is no end in sight to the strain on frontline services, and a recruitment and retention crisis, in the NHS, Social Care, schools and early years where the majority of workers, particularly the lowest paid, are women. And of course these workers are impacted, as we all are, by the cost of living crisis which looks set to increase poverty and homelessness.
With energy bills due to increase by 54 per cent in April, analysis from the Child Poverty Action Group finds families with children below the poverty line face £35 per month in extra energy costs even after the Government’s so-called mitigation measures are factored in; and these families are set to spend three times the share of their income on energy, compared to better-off families (17% and 5% of disposable income after housing costs, respectively).
But there are some rays of hope – I was delighted to see Paulette Hamilton elected as MP for Birmingham Erdington although the turnout must give us cause for concern. And this week’s Walk for Women in Manchester was just one inspiring example of celebrating women and demanding that our voices are heard, with hundreds turning out.
So it is an important time for us to come together as Labour women for our conference later this month. I look forward to once again hearing from our brilliant women members about their experiences and the work they are doing in their communities. There are so many important issues to discuss from the experience of women refugees to social care to violence against women and girls. And it is important that the policies we discuss and agree are listened to and shape Labour’s policy – we as women members, can make a vital contribution to ensuring Labour is in touch with the concerns of grassroots women and communities.
With important elections and rule change votes also taking place, which will have an impact on ensuring future democracy in our Labour women’s organisation, I look forward to members having their voices heard.
- Yasmine Dar is a Vice-Chair of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and is seeking re-election to Labour’s National Executive Committee. You can read her candidate’s statement here.
- Register for the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy Delegate’s Briefing for Women’s Conference on Friday 11 March, 6.30pm here.