New Communist Party of Britain
This is just one section of the Main Political Resolution adopted at the 2009 16th Congress of the New Communist Party of Britain.
An index to the other sections can be found here -> [2009 Policy Documents]
The current economic crisis is having a disproportionately adverse effect on women, mainly because of their lower average income.
Low incomes render most women dependent, either on a share of their partner’s income, or on state benefits and this dependency curtails their freedoms, their personal relationships and every choice they may make in their everyday lives. These economic restrictions are more potent than any discriminatory laws, culture or religion.
These restrictions are further exacerbated by women still being expected to undertake the lion’s share of caring for children, the elderly and the sick and taking care of the domestic environment.
Modern domestic technology has not liberated women from these burdens, simply made is just about possible for them to work full−time as well being unpaid carers and home−makers but at great cost in terms of lost leisure, rest and relaxation and ultimately health.
Working class women, like working class men, go to work primarily to earn wages to pay for their living, pay off debts and so on. But the working environment outside the home is a social one. Humans are by nature social creatures and need a social environment.
The role of modern working class women is exhausting and seriously under−rewarded but the answer is not to send women back into the home to do nothing but take care of others. Women need and deserve their place in the sun and their economic freedom.
But to enjoy this on an equal basis with men the two main keys to women’s liberation remain:
equal pay and opportunity;
and high quality, affordable state−provided childcare — and proper social care for the elderly and long−term sick.
The most recent Government figures for the gender pay gap, (as measured by the median hourly pay, excluding overtime, of full−time employees) widened between 2007 and 2008. The gap between women’s median hourly pay and men’s was 12.8 per cent, compared with a gap of 12.5 per cent recorded in April 2007, when it was at its lowest since records began.
The median hourly rate for men went up 4.4 per cent to £12.50, while the rate for women increased by 4.1 per cent to £10.91. The increase in the gender pay gap can be explained by a significant number of women moving into full−time jobs with low rates of hourly pay. This has the impact of reducing the overall growth in earnings of full−time female employees.
Median weekly earnings of full−time employees in 2008 for women (£412) were 21 per cent less than those for men (£521), unchanged from 2007. Women’s weekly earnings, including overtime, were lower than men’s, partly because they worked fewer paid hours per week. Source: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE).
The compulsory pay audits that trade unions were demanding at the time of our last Congress have only just been included in a parliamentary Bill — and that after a struggle against the employers’ lobby — and are not yet law.
There has been no advance on state provision for childcare. Even with small state subsidies paid to parents to buy private sector childcare, it still costs almost as much if not more than a women can expect to earn in a low−paid job. Most working class women have to make arrangements with their partners, grandparents or neighbours, fitting their working hours around the availability of informal childcare.
This excludes many women from higher paid employment and keeps them in part−time, low−skill, low−pay jobs where their intellectual and vocational potential are wasted.
And, like their male colleagues, women workers are victims of the “voluntary” unpaid overtime culture as mentioned elsewhere in this document.
Single mothers continue to be vilified in the media and used as scapegoats for the failure of social support for them and their children.
Women are increasingly starting families later in life. Some choose to but many are forced into this situation due to financial reasons, including expensive or inadequate living accommodation, or fear that their careers could be jeopardised due to management discrimination. Late pregnancies come with added health risks to both mother and child and a shortage of midwives has increased that risk.
All women should have the choice of if and when they start a family; have good nursing care, readily available fertility treatment on the NHS and including abortion on demand.
The Government has given its backing to paternity leave, but this is unpaid and not compulsory on the employer. It only benefits those in a strong financial situation and who have a cooperative employer. Maternity and paid paternity leave must be extended and available to all, on a non−means tested basis. All parents should have reasonable time to spend with their children and this means curtailing working hours without reduction of income. Parental leave should be available to either parent when a child is sick.
Domestic violence, in all its forms, results from the isolated, unnatural nature of the bourgeois nuclear family and the economic and social tensions and alienation exerted on that structure by bourgeois society. The movement must recognise the occurrence of forced marriage in some communities and campaign against this abuse of women’s rights. Where violence has occurred, society must extend full necessary protection to its victims.
The real, economic freedom to leave a bad family situation before it deteriorates into violence is vital and divorce must be available on demand. No one should be forced to remain in a bad situation for fear of homelessness or penury.
The NCP calls for the decriminalisation of people trafficked, forced or otherwise coerced into the sex industry.
Many of the issues affecting women also impact on men and the fight for equality for women is a crucial part of the class struggle.