Making Devolution Work for Women: Follow up event
On August 2nd, CLES attended the second “Making Devolution Work for Women” workshop.
The event is part of a wider piece of work, commissioned by the Fawcett Society, looking at women’s involvement in the Greater Manchester and Midlands devolution deals. The project combines gendered analysis of economic data, grassroots collaboration with local women and community organisations, and detailed policy analysis to enable disadvantaged women and girls to effectively make their voices heard about the public services that affect their lives.
The event brought together a diverse group of women from across Greater Manchester to ensure their voices are heard in policy making. Centring around four key topics, women were asked to share their experiences and make asks of GMCA with Mayor Andy Burnham later responding to their proposals. The four key topics were:
Social Care and Child Care
Often deemed as “women’s work”, care is a field in which women are disproportionately represented and often undervalued. In this group the women present discussed the many issues related to care, from the widening pay gap for mothers to the increased likelihood of women being the ones to provide unpaid adult care. In response to the concerns raised, Mayor Andy Burnham highlighted the opportunity for devolution to allow a complete rethink of social care and give more respect to those providing care services, an area in which wider society has failed.
With higher unemployment rates and lower earnings for women, this group highlighted the how indispensable increased flexibility and individually negotiated flexibility are as mechanisms for improving the employment of women in Greater Manchester. Citing the work of GMCA in drafting a Good Employment Charter, Mayor Andy Burnham established his commitment to using devolution as a way to do politics differently and assured attendees that he is working with employers to integrate flexible start times and ensure fair pay for everyone in Greater Manchester regardless of gender.
Prompted by a desire to explore how women’s voices could become fully embedded into the heart of policy making in Greater Manchester, this group discussed the ways in which women’s concerns are often systematically ignored. With experienced local government administrators and non-policy makers alike, the group called for greater efforts to connect women from across the boroughs and emphasised the need for GMCA to provide evidence that mechanisms for policy engagement are being co-designed with women and that a gendered lens is applied throughout the decision-making process, not just as a token afterthought.
Dealing with both travel by bus and walking and cycling, these groups explored the differences in the way women use transport. Women’s views on safety and accessibility are often not heard in the planning stages of new infrastructure leading to less uptake later. Moreover, women face issues on buses as a result of poor design considerations such as the lack of space for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Producing a range of solutions, the group pushed for improved service schedules that reflect flexible working arrangements, bus routes based on demand instead of profit and better design measures that consider less-abled people.