On International Women’s Day, Medway Fawcett co-ordinator and Gillingham councillor Naushabah Khan looks at how the coronavirus pandemic has exposed structural gender inequalities.
This International Women’s day provides a moment for reflection on the year that has passed. And well, I guess it’s been a hell of a ride. No one could have predicted that 2020 would see a global pandemic which would impact our lives so profoundly. The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly tested people to their limits, presenting not only health challenges but financial struggles too, changing the way we fundamentally interact with each other and how we value the world around us. It has also sadly exposed the inequalities that still plague our society, with the socio-economic impacts of the virus hitting women the hardest.
Ahead of International Women’s Day, Medway Labour councillor Naushabah Khan looks at how the fight for equality is going.
This week in honour of International Women’s Day, and well, because I would have done so anyway, I went to watch On the Basis of Sex. Spoiler alert, the cleverly titled film is a moving story about the early years of Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, a US Supreme Court justice; an exceptional woman, now in her eighties, who championed women’s rights in America.
At a particularly poignant point in the film, Ginsburg is challenged by her male counterpart in court, who accuses her of wanting the country to undergo ‘radical social change’. She upends his line of attack, reminding him that the ‘radical’ change he is so worried about meant that prestigious Harvard Law School still did not have female toilets.
Watching the scene, I couldn’t help but reminisce about a story told by female MP who recalled a similar experience. In her first year of entering Parliament she had sought a bathroom, only to be told that women did not have access to one in the entirety of this section of the parliamentary estate. The only difference between her story and that of Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, was that this was 1997 not 1957.
Since then, within a short space of time, great progress has been made in striving for gender equality and promoting women in politics, public life and society; championed by a Labour government committed to furthering women’s rights. But there is much work still to do and within political parties the challenge remains significant. Take as an example the fact that Labour has never had a female leader, or that we were not immune to the need for change put forward by the #MeToo movement.
In which Medway Labour’s Housing spokesperson Naushabah Khan looks at the homelessness situation in Medway.
Welcoming in 2019, I thought it was important to start the new year discussing an issue that we really have to get under control. A problem that frankly has no space in one of the world’s richest economies and one that should instead be close to eradication. Yet since 2010 homelessness, in all its guises, has been on the increase; exacerbated by a shortage of social and affordable homes and the politics of austerity, driven by a Conservative government.
To give a sense of the numbers, rough sleeping is up by a startling 134% (in seven years) nationally, while there has been a 60% rise in the number of families living in temporary accommodation. In Medway alone over six hundred children are classified as homeless, the worst figures in Kent.