The Commission on Women and Work should emphasise andaddress the precarious position of many women outside theformal labour market. The Commission
is right to highlight arange of factors underpinning the gender pay gap, and inparticular the undervaluing of ‘women’s work’ (and caring inparticular).
Engaging men is an essential element of efforts to build genderequality. Attempts to involve them through support for projectinterventions based on clear gender analysis can encouragethem to take greater responsibility in relation to issues such asfatherhood, health, and gender-based violence
. Lessons fromsuccessful initiatives, such as the Objective 1 programme tosupport men disengaged from the labour market in SouthYorkshire, should be more widely disseminated.
Rationale:One in four women lives in poverty
, and men are more likely to be in the top fortyper cent of the income distribution than women. This is largely due to factors such asthe gender pay gap, the concentration of women in part-time work, inadequatepension provisions, lone parenthood, the lack of affordable childcare, and theundervaluing of care work
. Women (and men) from some black and minority ethnicbackgrounds also have a higher risk of poverty. Whilst women are the majority ofthose living in poverty, the position of some groups of men in the UK at the sharp endof economic and social change is also a cause for concern.
Political leadership is necessary in order to reverse rather thanexacerbate the climate of hostility towards asylum seekers. Todate the media and political discourse have played a central rolein raising public fears and exacerbating hostility towards them,resulting in daily threats and abuse for asylum seekers andothers. MORI poll evidence
showed that public perception isthat the UK hosts 23% of the world’s refugees and asylumseekers, rather than the true figure of 1.89%.
Support provided to asylum seekers is often inadequate orpoorly provided so that most are forced to live at anunacceptable level of poverty, experiencing hunger and illhealth. While provision must be improved, asylum seekers donot want to be dependent on benefits. Allowing them to workwhile they are awaiting a decision on their status would enablethem to contribute to society and the economy and wouldrestore their dignity
Resources must be focussed on a fair and efficient decisionmaking process, based on getting decisions right in the firstinstance. The system must be based on accurate and objectivecountry of origin information and supported by proper legaladvice.
Oxfam GB is a member of Oxfam International. Registered charity no. 202918