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Women: Economic Downturn

Volume 708: debated on Wednesday 4 March 2009


My right honourable friend the Minister for Women and Equality (Harriet Harman) has made the following Statement.

Sunday 8 March marks International Women's Day. This year the theme chosen for this event is women and the global economic downturn. To mark it, the Government are publishing today:

a booklet specially produced for women—Real Help Now for Womenwhich sets out the wide range of practical support available to women, including childcare, help with family finances, developing skills and finding a job; and

a short fact-sheet summarising the key findings of a report on quantitative and qualitative opinion polling work that my department carried out last month on women’s attitude to the economic downturn. The results show clearly that women have more, and wider-ranging, concerns than men about nearly every issue raised.

I am placing copies of both these publications in the Vote Office. I have also placed copies of them; together with the main opinion polling report, in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies will also be available on the Government Equalities Office website— They are intended to inform a number of events this week to mark International Women’s Day, during which we will discuss the concerns that women have about the effect of the downturn on them and their families and the action that we are taking to provide real help now as well as real hope for the future. In particular:

later today, we will be meeting with leading businesswomen and third sector organisations; and

tomorrow, there will be a full day’s debate in this House on the theme of supporting women and families through the downturn and building a strong and fair economy for the future; a similar debate will also be held in the House of Lords on Thursday 12 March.

We are discussing with our international partners how we can best work together this week and next in New York as part of the Commission on the Status of Women. In Europe, the UK is co-chairing a working group of the European Commission Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, and will draft an opinion on gender perspectives on the response to the economic and financial crisis.

These events and debates take place in the context of the national and international efforts to address the global financial crisis. The road to the London summit points to the importance of “ensuring that the UK workforce has the skills it will need to take advantage of the opportunities of an increasingly globalised world, through the education system and lifelong learning including support for part-time and flexible work for men and women”.