8 June 2019 12.30 ~ Durham Womens Gala 2019

Following last year’s success, the Durham Women’s Gala will return on 8th June 2019 to celebrate women’s contribution to society. Taking place in Wharton Park, the historic home of both the Women’s Gala and the Durham Miners’ Gala, this year’s event will focus on young women and their role in politics as part of the TUC Year of the Young Worker.

The family-friendly event will bring together inclusive, child-friendly activities with live music, food and feminism. Speakers will include the Shadow Attorney General, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, Northumbria PCC Vera Baird, and young feminist campaigners from Tyneside to Teesside. Some of the North East’s premier female musical acts will perform for visitors, and entry will once again be free of charge.

Until 5.00pm

Maura McKeon, chair of the Friends of the Durham Women’s Gala and Durham’s youngest County Councillor, said

‘It is vital that a diverse array of voices speaks at all levels of our politics, and young women bring a unique perspective. Frustratingly, we often have to fight harder to be taken seriously. I hope that the Women’s Gala can amplify our voice and shine a light on the formidable women of all ages who are building a better North East.’

The Gala is supported by UNISON, the public-sector trade union and the largest women’s organisation in the UK.

Last year’s event welcomed over 1000 people to Durham City to mark 100 years of women’s suffrage.


May 16, 2019

Households where the woman is the sole earner are significantly poorer – new research

The term ‘female breadwinner’ conjures images of power-dressing corporate businesswomen who are bucking traditional gender norms to ‘have it all’. However, high-earning women make up only a small proportion of female breadwinners, the majority of which tend to work less hours than their male counterparts do, and are less likely to be in managerial positions.

The ESRC research project, ‘Female-Breadwinner Families in Europe’ aims to shed light on the economic characteristics of female-breadwinner couples, and uses data from the Luxembourg Income Study.

CPC associates Dr Helen Kowalewska and Dr Agnese Vitali analysed survey data on 171,697 people in the United States, Australia, Canada and 17 European countries. The research looked at working households containing two heterosexual cohabiting spouses or partners aged 18-65, and found stark economic differences between couples in different countries.

Findings show that British households where women are the sole earners average $3,000 (USD) less disposable income compared to a male sole earner. This is similar to results for the majority of countries in Southern and Eastern Europe.

Dr Helen Kowalewska recently presented this new research at the British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Glasgow:

“Our findings shed doubt on popular depictions of female breadwinners as high-earning, empowered women – instead they are often lower-educated,” Dr Kowalewska told the conference. “Rather than reflecting women’s empowerment or greater gender equity, female breadwinners are in this position by default, forced to take up employment when their partner loses his job.”

However, female breadwinner families earning less than male counterparts is not a universally norm. In Western Europe, the US, Canada and Australia, households with women as the sole breadwinners typically earned more than those with just the men in employment, with only Germany and Norway an exception.

“One reason why the UK bucks the trend for Western Europe is that women who are the sole breadwinners work significantly fewer hours, an average of 34 a week, compared with sole men breadwinners who work 43.” Dr Helen Kowalewska continues. “They are also less likely to be in managerial or professional occupations – 29% – compared with 26% for men sole breadwinners.”

The result for the UK means that families where woman are the only wage earner are, on average, poorer than other family types. Therefore, Dr Kowalewska encourages social policy analysis to pay greater attention to female breadwinners, who may be disproportionately impacted by modern day social risks such as in-work poverty, and work/care conflicts.



May 16, 2019

New investigation into child protection in religious organisations and settings – IICSA

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has announced a new investigation into child protection in religious organisations and settings.

The investigation will be thematic and will review the current child protection policies, practices and procedures in religious institutions in England and Wales.

Organisations falling under the remit of this investigation will include non conformist Christian denominations, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Methodists, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism. This investigation is separate from our investigations into the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

Religious settings such as mosques, synagogues, churches and temples are in scope. Places of faith tuition such as Muslim madrassahs and Christian Sunday schools and places where children and young people gather in connection with their religious beliefs, including youth groups and camps will also be investigated by the Inquiry.

More than one in 10 survivors of child sexual abuse (11 per cent) who shared their accounts with the Inquiry’s Truth Project reported sexual abuse in a religious institution. Of this group, almost a quarter (24 percent) told the Inquiry they were abused in institutions in scope of this new investigation, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Methodists, Judaism and Islam. Not all participants provided details about the religious denomination of the institution or perpetrator.

Organisations and individuals are being invited to apply for core participant status. Core participants must have a significant interest in this investigation and have special rights defined by legislation.

A preliminary hearing will take place at 2pm on 23 July 2019 and public hearings will take place in 2020.



  • The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was set up because of  serious concerns that some organisations had failed and were continuing to fail to protect children from sexual abuse.
  • Our remit is huge, but as a statutory inquiry we have unique authority to address issues that  have persisted despite previous inquiries and attempts at reform.


May 16, 2019

No More Shame Responds to HM Government’s Draft Bill for Abortion Services In Gibraltar

No More Shame Gibraltar (NMS) notes and welcomes the publication of the Abortion Bill with combined interest and dismay. It goes without saying that the Government should be applauded for its decision to change the law on an issue such as abortion in a small community like Gibraltar.

Whilst welcoming reform in this area, NMS feels this does not go far enough to meet the needs of the women of Gibraltar. The availability of abortion services up to 12 weeks locally is appreciated and has been well received, but the Bill lacks clarity and direction regarding the services available to women with high risk pregnancies over the 12 week threshold. Such ambiguity, as it presently stands, presents a challenge of how medical practitioners might interpret it in the face of a pregnant person needing potentially life-saving treatment at 13 weeks, by way of example. Is it the Government’s intention to refer such a patient abroad for a termination?

NMS refutes the suggestion there is no available expertise in Gibraltar to look after these women post-12 weeks. The GHA has highly skilled and committed healthcare professionals who do not appear to have been consulted regarding the drafting of this legislation, or the provision of these services. Continuing to send these vulnerable women, many with wanted pregnancies, to the UK at a time when they most need their families’ support, is not in keeping with either the letter or spirit of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (reflected in Section 7 of the Constitution Order 2006), which calls for the right to “privacy and family life”. Yet it is on the basis of this right that HM Government has claimed the legislation in Gibraltar needed reforming.

An NMS advocate, who experienced such an abortion and wishes to remain anonymous, said:

“To have to endure the pain and suffering of the late termination of a wanted pregnancy away from home and go through the referral process, repatriation process of the aborted foetus and the grieving, was a gross violation of my family’s right to privacy and contributed to the shame and stigma of my termination.”

It is imperative that any ‘Regulations’ the Minister of Health subsequently provides regarding the issue of what happens with pregnancies post-12 weeks, be enshrined clearly in law, in this Bill, so there is no doubt in any health professionals’ or pregnant person’s mind that they are acting within the law, with all the legal protection and rights this affords. In fact, the Explanatory Memorandum of the draft Bill is ambiguous as it does not reflect accurately the content of the new law regarding post-12 week pregnancies.

Not many of the suggestions from submissions, which HM Government requested after publication of the Command Paper, appear to have been incorporated in the final Bill, such as decriminalisation and the need for only one health professional to prescribe a termination. The consultation process, which so many citizens of Gibraltar and international health and legal experts contributed to, seems to have been in vain. NMS feels that having grasped the nettle of abortion reform, an important opportunity has been lost by HM Government to be creative and imaginative to design much needed reform to the already outdated UK 1967 Bill, where this draft Bill is taken from. To not welcome and incorporate the opinion of experts, instrumental in writing the legislation of Ireland and the Isle of Man, falls short of providing the women of Gibraltar with modern fit for purpose abortion legislation and services.

NMS will write to HM Government with recommendations for the draft Bill and seek a consultation meeting with the Minister for Health on the importance of a participatory process in developing clinical guidelines in line with human rights; such as the provision for home use for medical abortion in early pregnancy as per draft NICE guidelines; for GPs, Nurse practitioners and midwives to be able to prescribe early medical abortions at primary care and not just in hospital; and a seamless and fast pathway for post-12 week pregnancies being referred to the UK.


See also: http://www.womensgrid.org.uk/?p=8831

May 16, 2019

Making workplaces safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women – New Health and Safety guidance for union reps

Maternity Action and the TUC have published joint guidance on health and safety for pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace.

Most workplace risks can be managed with good health and safety procedures and the right protective clothing, even in pregnancy. But we know that all too often employers are failing in their duty to protect pregnant and breastfeeding women in the workplace.

According to Equality and Human Rights Commission research into pregnancy discrimination, almost half of mothers said either their employer did not initiate a discussion about risks or that not all the risks identified were tackled. Where the risks weren’t resolved, two in five mothers said it led to them starting maternity leave earlier than they wanted, and more than a quarter ended up taking sick leave. Many women don’t realise that by taking sick leave during pregnancy, they could end up losing out on Statutory Maternity Pay.

Shockingly, one in five women ended up leaving their job altogether as a result of the risks not being dealt with by their employer. That’s the equivalent of 4% of all mothers.

This tallies with the calls we get to our Maternity Rights Advice Line. We’ve seen an increase in the number of calls from women whose employers have failed to do a risk assessment or who are refusing to act on risks identified by the woman.

One woman who called us recently is 19 weeks’ pregnant and works as a carer looking after elderly care home residents, some of whom were frail and required a lot of physical assistance and others who could sometimes be violent. Her employer rightly conducted a risk assessment and identified a number of risks in relation to her work. What her employer should have done was make reasonable adjustments, such as ensuring she’s not working on her own or doing any heavy lifting. If that wasn’t possible, she should have been offered alternative work on the same pay. If no other suitable alternative work was available, she should have been suspended on full pay. Instead her boss said it wasn’t safe for her to work so told her to either take annual leave or sick leave. This would have left her with only £95 per week income (Statutory Sick Pay). It also might have reduced her maternity pay income..

Another woman who contacted our advice line recently works at a warehouse with a chill chamber and freezer chamber. She told her employer of her pregnancy when she was 10 weeks pregnant. Even though her work involved heavy lifting and extreme temperatures, her boss did not carry out a risk assessment or discuss any need to change her work duties in light of her pregnancy.

Sadly, enforcement of Health and Safety regulations is weak which is why the role of the union rep is vital in holding employers to account. We know that the presence of a health and safety rep in the workplace can make all the difference between a woman being able to do her job safely and either risking her health or being forced out of her job. A good health and safety rep can ensure that risks are managed throughout a woman’s pregnancy, recognising that women’s needs can change as their pregnancy progresses and that jobs – and the risks associated with those jobs – can change too.


May 16, 2019