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In many senses this is a diary born out of frustration and anger, but with large measures of despair. Invariably and unsurprisingly, women are disproportionately bearing the brunt of cuts due to the introduction of austerity measures in the UK and in much of the advanced capitalist world. We are not only facing the brunt of cuts to jobs and wages, but attacks on benefits are also affecting women disproportionately in their role as mothers, carers, disabled people and retirees.

Partly this is due to the concentration of women’s employment in specific sectors of the economy, many of which are in the state sector (e.g., education, health care, social work) which are facing both job cuts and wage cuts as the government attempts to destroy the state sector worker unions and shift control of social service provision to the private sector.  

An additional part of the problem is the concentration of women in part-time work leaving them dependent upon government benefits which are also facing cuts. Additional problems arise as cuts to benefits and services are adding further hardship: child-care cuts, protection for victims of sexual, domestic and other forms of violence (, after-school youth clubs, cuts to benefits for pregnant women, disability benefits and pensions.  

Undercutting years of hard work to increase women’s labour force participation, raise women’s wages, provide protection for mothers and children, the aged and disabled, these cuts are forcing women into poverty, especially those in that are disabled, in single-parent households and retirees.  


Already elderly women are facing special hardship both due to historical circumstances of living longer than men combined with lower wages (and hence lower pensions). Decreased pensions due to shifts in inflation indexation for those on state pensions and benefits mean undeniably a cut in income for those on fixed incomes and benefits. The attacks on disability benefit add to the hardship already felt by women with both visible and invisible disabilities as the government attempts to push more people off of disability benefits (£91/week) and onto “paths towards employment” with lower benefit levels (£65/week) under the delusion that jobs are available for people determined eligible to work.

This pattern is also being found in those countries in the EU which are undergoing or facing austerity measures. In Spain (, and Greece (; for Europe in general see: the impact of austerity measures hits women harder, both in terms of employment, wages, pensions and benefit cuts.

I. Women’s Labour Force participation:

Important points with respect to the types and manner of women’s employment and participation rates need to be raised to understand what is happening. There are differences in the type of employment women are engaged (agricultural, manufacturing or services) depending on the level of economic development of the countries being discussed. Historically, in countries in the periphery, women are concentrated in agriculture, as economic development increases, they move into manufacturing. In the advanced capitalist world, women are concentrated primarily in the service sector of the economy both in formal waged labour as well as in the informal sector.  

We can look at two different levels of statistics relating to women’s labour force participation; the first provided by the OECD relating to women in advanced capitalist countries (; the second set of statistics examines women’s labour force participation in the world. There are some distortions for the advanced capitalist world as this examines women from age 15 up and work for younger women is under legal constraint (

The six sectors dominated by women (over 50 per cent) in the developed economies are: (1) private households with employed persons (domestic staff, nannies, cooks, maids) (2) health and social work, (3) education, (4) hotels and restaurants, (5) other community, social and personal services, and (6) finance intermediation ( There is clear evidence in these charts that female workers are concentrated in services sectors that are characterized by low pay, long hours and oftentimes informal working arrangements. And even within these sectors where women dominate, it would rarely be women who would hold the upper level, managerial jobs. […] With regard to the health-care sector, a main employer of women (predominantly in nursing), the ILC report states that “women are poorly represented in the higher echelons (

Part-time work:

As is well known, female labour is heavily based in part-time work in the advanced capitalist world as well . Additionally, women are the dominant workers in the part-time sector (in many countries these workers do not have access to benefits and sickness and vacation days; this is not so in Italy and the Netherlands for example). Given that part-time work is lower-paid and does not come with benefits, this already places those working there at a severe disadvantage. In some cases, women working part-time are doing it voluntarily as they have to cover child-care and other carer responsibilities and prefer the flexibility afforded to those working part-time. However, what has also happened is that women are unable to work full-time formal work (due to lack of affordable child-care and carer availability); we are also seeing relegation to the part-time sector due to the fact that full-time employment possibilities are decreasing. As such, we are seeing a situation of involuntary underemployment. (ttp://, page 3).

In Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain […], both the female share of part-time employment and female part-time employment rates increased over time. These trends cement the fact that in the majority of countries found in the area of southern Europe, part-time work continues to be strongly a female domain. In the remaining countries (less France, Luxembourg and Belgium), the numbers showed an increase in female part-time employment rates accompanied by slight declines in the female share indicating that men in these countries (Austria, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands) have also started to take up part-time employment (

Working in the informal sector (self-employed, sub-contracting, seasonal, casual and short-term work in a non-regulated framework in terms of not being subject to national labour legislation guaranteeing benefits, wage levels, working hours and protection; “work paid under the table”) again characterises women’s work, especially immigrant labour and that of the poorest members of society (, pp. 43-47). Needless to say, there are difficulties measuring this formally as the work is informal, but the ILO at least has tried to address this in the document (yes, a pat of the head is appropriate now and then). These are jobs that are essentially precarious in nature; the fact that more and more people are resorting to them as the formal economy is failing to provide sufficient levels of income or employment is serious. They are unregulated as they fall outside normal labour regulations and normally are low paid, transient and leave people vulnerable to unscrupulous employers in terms of wages and working conditions; workers in these sectors have literally no rights that we take for granted.


II. Austerity measures attack women:

According to the Fawcett Society:

Measures to reduce the deficit are hitting women hard: cuts to their jobs, cuts to the benefits and services supporting women’s every day lives, and a growing likelihood that women will be the ones “filling the gaps” as state services are withdrawn.

This triple jeopardy is turning back time on women’s equality. It is pushing women out of the workforce, driving down women’s incomes and undermining women’s hard won rights to protection from violence and access to justice.

Women on average earn less, own less, and are more likely to work and retire in poverty than men. They can ill-afford to bear the brunt of the cuts. It is those who have the least to lose – women who are unemployed or on low incomes, pregnant women, families, single mothers and pensioners, victims of sexual, domestic or other violence – who will lose most (, sic).

While the initial effect of the economic crisis certainly hit men harder as it impacted upon sectors in which male employment is dominant in the advanced capitalist world (e.g., manufacturing, finance sector and construction), austerity measures are hitting women harder as they work in sectors that are under attack (state and public sectors: education, health-care, carers, civil sector workers). Ironically, it is probably due to legislation preventing discrimination in hiring in the public sector that has lead to women being more vulnerable to cuts in the sector. As such, cuts in the public sector (both in terms of employment and wage and pension benefits) are affecting women that are more concentrated in the sector at all levels.

What seems to have happened is that the initial impact of the crisis hit the manufacturing, financial and construction sectors hard, the domain of predominantly male workers in developed countries. It was men in manufacturing that were among the first to experience job cuts. But the impact of the crisis and associated job losses have since expanded to other sectors, including service sectors where women are mainly employed (, p.49).

The difference between the two is that one was a direct result of the economic crisis; what we are seeing now is an attack on the public sector in which women are more concentrated by the State, the IMF and the ECB. So, we are now facing attacks for a situation which not only have we not created, but which has been deliberately provoked by bailing out the banking sector which caused the crisis. As workers incomes have fallen throughout the advanced capitalist world since neoliberalism has taken hold, women’s incomes are an essential part of household income. The idea that women have the choice to stay home and tend to their children is becoming rather quaint as the middle class has now joined the working class and poor in facing the misery imposed by our governments. With unemployment rising due to the economic crisis, women’s incomes are essential for survival. Yet, we are watching an attack on women’s employment and incomes as part of government austerity measures.

According to the Guardian:

The number of women out of work is at a 23-year high, with cutbacks in the public sector hitting women particularly hard: two-thirds of the 130,000 jobs lost in local authorities since the first quarter of 2010 were held by women (

Secondly, there are the cuts in benefits that were specifically geared towards women (e.g., maternity benefits, pregnancy benefits). Then, of course, there are the cuts to child-care (including tax cuts, youth-centres, child-care benefits themselves).

Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, agreed. "Child poverty and the incomes and services women are able to access are intrinsically linked. The vast majority of child benefit is received by women, whether as the main carer in a couple, or as a single parent.
"It is hugely unfair that such a large burden of the government's cuts should be falling on the shoulders of women and children, and it would be profoundly wrong if these unfair cuts to child benefit became permanent." (

Finally, there is the re-pegging of benefits and pensions to the Consumer Price Index (as opposed to the Retail Price Index which covers housing costs); this means that increases in benefits and pensions will certainly be at a lower level as the CPI is lower than the RPI. Women live longer than men and they have had lower incomes (both in terms of pay for the same jobs and the fact that “women’s work” pays less). As such, their pension contributions and hence pensions will be lower. This is reality; this means that women that are able to retire will be living longer on lower pensions (while women that are married may get their husband’s higher pensions upon their deaths; this does nothing for single women or single mothers).

Two-thirds of pensioners living in poverty are women, and as many as half of all women are not able to make adequate pension provision for their future.  The average pension for a woman working in local government is just £60 per week. Yet changes to the way that state pension contributions are calculated means that millions of public sector workers, the majority of whom are women, will be expected to work longer and pay more in contributions, only to get a smaller pension (

III. Austerity measures punish the disabled:

For women that are disabled, there is a double penalty. Not only are they losing benefits as women and mothers, but they are facing reduction in disability benefits as the government in the UK is reducing the numbers of people on disability (see for a longer discussion of the attack on disability benefits:

In a letter to the editor to the Hamstead and Highgate Express, the recounting of injustice against disabled and vulnerable women is painful for any but the most cold-hearted person:

We are dealing with a dramatic increase in refusals of benefits, housing and support services for women with disabilities and other vulnerable people in Camden.  They include: a woman just out of hospital, threatened with court if she doesn’t pay hundreds of pounds for homecare; a blind pensioner with multiple health problems, allocated minimal care hours; a mother and rape survivor with refugee status denied Disability Living Allowance despite medical evidence; a young woman with cerebral palsy at risk of falling downstairs, denied adaptations and physiotherapy; a woman with severe mental health problems whose benefit was cut without notice; a suicidal woman pressed to attend a “Pathways to Work” interview, contrary to Dept for Work and Pensions guidelines; a single mother with anxiety disorder denied Income Support and Child Benefit for her toddler. Some of these cases have been won, but only after hours of effort by our volunteers. We are a small organisation of disabled women. What is happening to the thousands of people who have no help? How many more will suffer and even lose their lives after the cuts planned for April (

People on disability are facing tests to determine if they are able to work and are being graded on their disability with their benefits accordingly reduced:

Some charities also argue that the government has failed to appreciate how few jobs are available for people with disabilities or health problems, and point out that if people with health problems are moved from incapacity benefit of around £91 a week to jobseeker's allowance at £65 a week, but stand little chance of actually finding work, the net result is simply to impoverish them (


To add insult to injury, the government has hired a private company (ATOS Healthcare) to conduct the tests. This is not a medical company staffed by medical professionals; their sole purpose has been to reduce the numbers on benefit.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures, which cover the period from 27 October 2008 to 31 August 2010, show that 887,300 of the 1,175,700 applicants for ESA failed to qualify for any assistance. Of those, 458,500 (39%) were judged fit to work, while 428,800 (36%) ditched their claim. A further 16% were placed in the "work-related activity group", in which individuals are deemed able to take on some level of work but still receive a level of ESA support. Over a third (36%) of people who made a claim for ESA between October 2008 and February 2010 and who were found to fit to work at assessment have appealed, with the original decision overturned in almost four in 10 cases (39%) (

This indicates that there is something very wrong with the assessment criteria. There have been significant problems with the tests which are also geared towards those with physical disabilities. This has meant that those that are living with mental illness or disability are falling through the cracks. People with terminal conditions have been diagnosed as fit to work. Benefits for those with cancer are being scaled back as well; they are removing benefits for those diagnosed with cancer after 1 year (,;

Complaints against ATOS, the assessment tests and the accessibility of the centres have been rising ( Perhaps one of the most painful things I have read recently was that disabled people in Croydon were prohibited from using the lift in an ATOS Healthcare testing centre ( as that constituted a fire hazard. People that were being tested had to somehow negotiate the flights of stairs or go to another centre. But 29 centres of the 141 across the UK are not wheelchair accessible ( One cannot help wondering if somehow negotiating the steps was used against you in the disability assessment test.

Disability activists have raised additional concerns against government measures arguing that benefit cuts will affect basic living standards of people with disabilities:

The disability amount in Universal Credit is likely to be too low to meet extra disability costs of living such as heating.  Already, we are having to choose between paying for food, heating or charges for essential homecare services.

Disability Living Allowance, paid on top for care and mobility needs, is also being abolished and replaced with a stricter benefit called Personal Independence Payment.  78,000 fewer disabled people will get cash help with care and mobility needs.  Many of us who use DLA to get to work, etc., will be forced to give up waged work.  If we’re in a residential home, we won’t have any mobility money to go out independently, only group outings (if any) which we may not have chosen.  Other provision is also being cut (, sic).

The government has insisted that benefits be capped at £500/week. This is inclusive: that means, rent, food, disability payments, and child benefits. As such, people caring for elderly parents can lose carer benefits if their overall benefits exceed this amount ( When you add to these benefit cuts for those on disabilities, the cuts in child care provision and housing benefit cut proposals and then take into account rising food prices, heating and energy prices and rents skyrocketing, you are looking at deliberate impoverishment.

btw: all photos taken by the author at the Disabled People Against the Cuts demo, October 22, 2011

Originally posted to Anti-Capitalist Chat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 03:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (41+ / 0-)

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 03:00:03 PM PST

  •  "Austerity" is always going to affect women more.. (19+ / 0-)

    ...because they are the primary people who are expected to practice it, while at the same time being the primary economic targets.

    Anyway that's how I see it.

  •  would love some feedback, what do people (5+ / 0-)

    think? Is the point clear and coherent?

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 03:21:41 PM PST

    •  do you think that I am wrong? am I right? (3+ / 0-)

      do you think that it won't happen in the US and that this is a European problem?

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 03:34:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It has already (6+ / 0-)

        been happening here in the United States since the Clinton era.  He balanced the budget off of women with children by cutting their welfare benefits in the 1990s and forcing them into full time jobs.  The states use to help single Mothers with child care, but I believe that is now being cut.

        I am now disabled, but prior to that I was a social worker.  Most of our jobs here in the U.S. were being cut in 1990s by the hospitals, healthcare, and with almost the complete dissolving of the mental health system by insurance companies.  In the late 1990s the hospitals were cutting whole department of social work, many of our jobs were taken over by nurses and services that helped women such as shelters for domestic violence have been losing funding.

        Sadly, I have to agree with your excellent diary, women were just rising out of poverty and it seems that they have found new ways to oppress women again and take their rights away.  I swore to myself that I would not end up like the women in poverty coming out of the 1950's mentality where women solely depended on their husbands to have a roof over their head.  But, I have to admit being divorced and disabled I fear what is coming in austerity for people like me.  It is happening everywhere is the world and I question where is all the money going, but I think I can answer that as well as many people here can.  It is going for subsidies to corporations and to the banks to bailout the wealthy so they can continue to get big bonuses off the backs of the elderly, disabled, women and children.

        Shame on all of them!

        "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolution­ary act. " George Orwell

        by zaka1 on Fri Nov 11, 2011 at 12:48:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I would have appreciated a little more analysis of (9+ / 0-)

    how this occurs (although the information was clear and informative)  -- i.e. sex role channeling.  Women are not so much in these jobs due to affirmative action -- they have always been primary school teachers, nurses, etc. because women are perceived to be the "nurturers", and most of the jobs that are not specifically profit oriented in the "private" market oriented sector,bit are in the public sector or done, without pay, by women in the nonmarket sector-- raising future workers, caring for the sick and the elderly, doing housework, raising children).  
    Once you put it in that context, it becomes clear why these jobs are paid less -- for centuries they have been outside the market and done "for free" (actually the pay was in the form of having a husband give you food and shelter if you did this work in the home like an indentured servant).  So they are devalued when they hit the market place.  No one thinks of childcare as an important investment in the future success of a capitalist economy, but you are in fact preparing the future workers in these companies -- "for free" or such a minimal subsidy if you are on welfare to be laughable (we all know about those lazy welfare mothers who do "nothing" -- cooking ,cleaning, watching and teaching children,etc), or for a very low wage if you are a childcare workers because the work is "women's work" and not viewed as profitable or important.This even holds true in manufacturing -- the texile and clothing industry is one where women predominate.  This industry was one of the first to "offshore" and was always underpaid.
    "Part-time" work is another misnomer for most women are working full time, just not in the market place -- they just have to do a great deal of their work unpaid--caring for their children, their elder parents., etc.
    the fact that this kind of work is really not acknowledged means,as you said, that they don't get social security for that unpaid time or other healthcare or retirement benefits, forget the fact the work is nonpaid.
    Finally, the informal sector work may or may not be official paid labor -- temp workers or domestics frequently pay taxes, etc. -- it is just that the work does not have any of the protections of "formal labor" where you are hired by a company.
    anyway, I think it is important -- not just to address the inequities, but put them in the context of the specific oppression of women due to sex-role channeling (I have a middle class friend who is a stay at home Mom and still does the middle class version of part-time labor selling clothes out of her home.  She probably makes enough to redecorate her kitchen, but it is still the same dynamic and same rational even at the middle class level.

    •  Thank you geminijen, that is an excellent point (9+ / 0-)

      as usual. As I started working on the piece and checking across countries, I became more and more appalled at the statistics. I would love to see a diary about segmented and gender segregated labour markets. I think that would be excellent.

      The big guns (ILO, OECD, World Bank) are having trouble defining informal sector and hence that is why so little coherent discussion exists on it from within the mainstream. Informal sector labour is labour that is outside of labour market regulations as they have defined it; that would apply to transient labour, sweatshop labour and working from home; some people pay taxes on their earnings and some do not (it depends on whether they are illegal or not and their fears of exposure). I know people that are literally picking up work doing gardening and helping around the home simply trying to survive. People pick up work to make ends meet; some of it is regular work done at home; some of it is day labour. The fact that they know more and more people are engaged in it due to austerity measures in Europe is interesting, but they are having trouble documenting it due to the fact that not all of it is reported.

      An interesting point raised in the ILO piece was that there are different behaviour patterns when men and women lose full-time work; men have a tendency to wait for a full-time job while women will go into part-time work to make ends meet and often wind up stuck there.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 04:06:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fact is that women are always doing "part-time" (9+ / 0-)

        work -- part-time unpaid labor in the home (cooking, cleaning, taking kids to school) or, when they need to make ends meet when their salary isn't enough -- selling amway, Avon, babysitting for the neighbor, etc.  We just don't count this as work because it is unpaid (and, thus, in a commodified market economy, invisible)

        •  agreed, there is no question. (7+ / 0-)

          It is always interesting to me that irrespective how much the system depends on social reproduction roles that are fulfilled by women for the most, these roles are treated as unpaid labour.

          While there is the traditional reasons why women are trapped in part-time work (social carer responsibilities) what we are seeing more and more is that there are women that want to be in full-time employment that simply cannot find full-time work; unlike the traditional scenario this is not dependent upon lack of childcare and carer responsibilities but rather lack of jobs. This is something that is becoming more and more prevalent and you see people taking on more than one part-time job to survive (none of which have benefits). As such, part-time work is not a choice on their parts or even being forced to do so due to inadequate (or minimal) child-care arrangements, but simply because there is no full-time work as it is cheaper for employers to hire PT as there are no benefits to be paid; this is also similar in the situation where people hire temp workers to avoid having to pay additional costs relating to benefits.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 04:28:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Absolutely agree - but this is the general problem (5+ / 0-)

            for all workers in the economic downturn.  For women, this is just another aspect added to their already difficult decisions as to how to balance a market job (full or part-time) with the rest of their work). Si it is even harder than for men.
            On the other hand, since the jobs they fill are so cheap by their very nature, they may have an easier time finding an full-time job to support their family when their husband loses his -- just because they are used to taking less and looking in fields that are more flexible.  Course this doesn't mean they will get off their other unpaid work (as we have seen repeatedly when wives try to fill in the gaps when husbands lose their jobs). Sometimes the men do learn to step up but it has been documented that they need "therapy" when they are force (god forbid!) into this situation where they have to be the one doing the unpaid work.

            •  Agree to a certain extent. I think that what we (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nchristine, Justina, DawnN, splashy, Amber6541

              are seeing is not a cyclical problem in the capitalist system but rather a structural one; as such, it is not only the fact that we are in a downturn that has led to this transformation. I think that the system is creating high levels of unemployment (structurally at this point) and that the part-timism is being used to further undercut all the gains that the working class has made; this is what is underlying the shift to sub-contracting and less protections and benefits for workers. The attack on wages is part of this trend; shifting to cheapen wage costs to somehow compete with countries where standards of living have been deliberately kept low. I am thinking that this is not only a problem associated with a down-turn. Clinton (for example) started using rising employment in part-time to demonstrate the effectiveness of his economic policies way before he became president; this has become an accepted part of employment in the US and advanced capitalist world.

              "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

              by NY brit expat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 05:03:39 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think you are correct. See the concentrated (7+ / 0-)

                effort to kill the unions.  It is a structural plan to put people in 'their place'.  The 'powers' want 'all' the power over everyone else.  They don't want to have to follow any rules about worker safety, environmental safety.  They just want to be able to do whatever they 'need' to do in order to maximize profits.

                •  I am worried that if we look at this as a cyclical (9+ / 0-)

                  problem rather than what it actually is, a structural and systemic problem, we will not be able to address the underlying causes nor understand exactly what is going on. Moreover, one problem that I am seeing on the left is that while they talk about infrastructure re-building, construction and green manufacturing, these are sectors that are male dominated employment; we need to cover women also. That is why preventing the employment and wage cuts in the state sector also serves to protect women's jobs as well. We have to deal with what exists and cover women while we work to ensure our inclusion in new fields or we will be reduced to poverty and economic dependence on the men-folk rapidly.

                  "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                  by NY brit expat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 05:26:59 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I agree it is a structural problem, but I think we (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    are confusing two interrelated structural problems--the structural problem of becoming a service economy as our manufacturing base as jobs go abroad which effects all workers as workers and the structural problem of a sex segregated workforce.  And these require both separate anayses and and integrated analysis taking both into account.

                    •  Am not confusing the two, I am raising an (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      additional point. I do not think what we are seeing is cyclical but a structural transformation. We have a double-whammy hitting us, one is the structural sex-segregated work force; the other is the impact of the way in which they are trying to bust down wages and benefits (part-time work and sub-contracted work and temporary contracts) to lower wage costs even more and destroy hard earned protections and benefits. We have been in part-time work for longer; what is also happening is that part-time work (and its economic equivalents) is what is being offered as part of attempts to destroy wages, unions, and benefits.

                      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                      by NY brit expat on Fri Nov 11, 2011 at 06:57:26 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

  •  It is a very important topic. (10+ / 0-)

    "would love some feedback, what do people think? Is the point clear and coherent?"

    It is very well written, describes the current situation and mostly likely future conditions.  I will say it was difficult to grasp it all at once.  There is an awful lot of information (good information, needed information) to process.  It is something that needs to be discussed.

    "do you think that I am wrong? am I right?  do you think that it won't happen in the US and that this is a European problem?"

    You are most definitely correct.  No, it is not solely an European issue.  It is an issue for all people.

    As the number of jobs decline due to whatever reason, the patriarchal societies will demand that women 'go back to where they belong' so that the men can have the jobs because 'they are the ones supporting the families'.

    I know someone that truely believes that the problems of the country is due to women working in the general workforce.  I ask him what a single woman is supposed to do in that world??  He can never answer me.  I'll be damned if I'll ever be regulated to the role set to single women of the past (the nurse, the seamstress, the cook, the care giver to the elderly of the family, the care giver to the children, the one expected to drop everything to take care of other family members as if she has no life of her own, that her life is to be dictated by the 'real' people in the family - those married and the men - having to depend upon them for food and shelter, let alone anything else).

    •  One of things that is evident in the (6+ / 0-)

      Tory party discussion of the "big society" is that they expect women to take up these volunteer jobs that used to be their full-time paid employment before they got sacked due to austerity measures. It is not only an attempt to turn back time to some fantasy where women did not work; it is how they seem to see the role of women in society. The fact that they do not seem to also get that lowering wages for men means that we cannot sit home and run their new privatised service sector as volunteers seems to be completely missed in their little fantasy land.

      I am with you, how hard have we fought for the minimal gains we have made for these swine to use an economic crisis that they made to make us economically dependent upon our even poorer men-folk? I keep on wondering if we are living on the same planet as these people ... how can they expect people to survive on the crumbs off the table, keep a roof over our heads, cover our families while they dream on of completely flexible labour markets? Our work is not "pin money" it has not been so for quite a long time and yet they are talking about somehow women's employment is responsible for rising male unemployment. Your friend will never have an answer to your point; this is someone living in another time. His comment is a classic acceptance of divide and conquer arguments that shift the responsibility towards others rather than the system. argh!

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 04:56:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  When I had a job (I get a new one next Tuesday) (4+ / 0-)

        I was making more than the majority of both my male and female relatives.  With the new job, I'm almost positive that only 3 members of the family will be earning more income than myself.  They would be my sister, her fiance, and one male cousin.  Thankfully, none of the family that I'm remotely close to will never, ever question my right to work in any given field I choose to.  My mom and her sister pounded into the next generation that we can do whatever we damned well wanted.  The next generation is also being taught the same thing.  At least I'm making sure I teach that.

        I really don't understand what fantasy world they're dreaming in.

        •  My mom stressed the importance of economic (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nchristine, splashy

          independence and pushed me hard into getting an education to have a career and never be dependent upon a man. I have a doctorate, I was working in academia (the first one in my family to have an advanced degree); I would not be wealthy, but I had a career. My getting sick has sort of thrown that into the toilet as working has become difficult. With all my skills and education, I am not in paid employment and am essentially financially dependent upon my husband (it rankles deeply).

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 05:16:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My mom was first to get a Bachelor's degree. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NY brit expat

            She got it when she was 40, in 1983.  I was second.  I'm not earning an income off my Bachelor's degree (architecture), but off the two Associate of Applied Science degrees (computer programming).  Now, I'm not 'rich' by any stretch of the imagination, but I am comfortable.  Mom's generation were the typical middle class/working class - the dream - have a house, a good job, a couple of kids, go on a vacation once a year, or two, able to help the kids get through college, etc.  Many of mom's cousins were/are farmers.  Dad's side was a bit more educated....

            Mom also stressed economic independence, much was a result of her growing up environment (very dysfunctional).  I know how it rankled her that she could no longer work due to her disability.

            •  My parents were born in 1917; both dreamed (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              of going to college; either because of needing to support their families and/or social constraints neither could achieve their dream. They saved make sure I got the BA at a state university and then I worked my way through grad school. Mom was glowing, dad told me to find a husband to support me (I think he was proud but a bit disconcerted to have a daughter with far more education than he could dream, it didn't fit into the way that he viewed a women's role in life).

              "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

              by NY brit expat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 05:55:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  good luck in the new job nchristine! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nchristine, tardis10, FindingMyVoice

          hope that all goes well and the working environment is a good one! Have my fingers crossed! :)

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 06:10:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks!! It's only a contract job and I'm not (3+ / 0-)

            expecting anything truely long term.  It's a 12-18 month contract, but we both know that contract jobs can be terminated at any time (like any other job these days).  Salary wise, I'll be making more an hour than I have in any other job.  The benefits pretty much suck, but that's to be expected for contract jobs - don't work, don't get paid - no sick or vacation time.  I will be continuing to look for 'permanent' employment here at home in the meantime.  I'm having to travel 3 hours one way, stay at an apartment during the week, and come home on weekends.  There's no way in hell that I'm moving lock, stock, and barrel for a contract job.

            Work is becoming contract in this country to avoid having to pay benefits of any kind, putting all responsibility onto the employee, all the while trying to cut pay.  I HATE the fact that two companies are making money off my labor and the only thing one has done was introduce me to the employer, yet they will probably be paid what I'm being paid and not doing anything that actually produces anything.  If it was just me and the employer... we'd work out the contract, it's the middleman that pisses me off.

            With work becoming 'contract', I'm likening it to the old days of piece work in the garment factories.  I'm not sure if the 'kids' today knows what that means.

      •  Good discussion but I think it is important that (5+ / 0-)

        we stop referring to work only as that thing done in the market place.  it is by making nonpaid work invisible that we developed the tendency to think of it as not work and not worthy of pay -- hence the ease with which we underpay women and expect them to do "free work" as part of women's role --i.e., putting women back in volunteer jobs!

  •  Gotta go meet a friend to take her to dinner for (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat, Justina, splashy

    her birthday -another single mom! Sorry to dump out on you.  Hope some other folks come to the discussion -- the topic is certainly an interesting one.

  •  Very Informative Post, Thanks! (2+ / 0-)

    Your statistics make it very clear that working class women are being crushed between unemployment/underemployment and benefits cuts by these damned austerity measures.  Adding those with disabilities or caring for the disabled to the mix, and the horrors are palpable.

    I do have one question though.  You wrote:

    Ironically, it is probably due to legislation preventing discrimination in hiring in the public sector that has lead to women being more vulnerable to cuts in the sector. As such, cuts in the public sector (both in terms of employment and wage and pension benefits) are affecting women that are more concentrated in the sector at all levels.

    Do you mean to say that because there is less discrimination in the public sector against hiring women that there are thus more women in that employment sector to be laid off or fired?  Can you clarify?

    Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

    by Justina on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 05:29:16 PM PST

    •  I think that it is a combination of things (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nchristine, Justina, Neon Mama

      but yes; women have found work in the public sector and we are there not only because health-care, social work and teachers are traditional women's fields and these are under state control in the EU; but also because they had laws against discrimination that were enforced and hence more women (with qualifications, we are not lacking those in Europe from high school level on upwards) found work in the state sector. Hence we are more vulnerable to cuts there rather than in sectors in which we are not employed in large numbers (e.g. mining and other extractive industries).  We serve in most service fields beyond traditional employment.

      During the industrial revolution, we worked more in agriculture and then manufactures (women were essential workers in the textile industry but not in iron or steel production), as the economy changed we went into these fields more. It is not only our "traditional" roles that conditioned choices and access; I think that there is more going on. I may be wrong, but this is what I think is making us more vulnerable to cuts.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 05:40:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  wow, great dairy (5+ / 0-)

    I'm going radical here. Can't help myself. As a woman why is my worth, or anyones for that measure, calculated by this garbage offered up as to who is towing and contributing to the sick line of growth or the 'race to the top'? I long ago got really pissed off at the insanity that said women needed to break glass ceilings. Broken glass is dangerous and kills.  

    Austerity or entitlements are all just words that say, you women are worthless as like most of the 99%. You can  work in the real world, but you must feed our beast, otherwise you are a drag.  

    The world where most of us live, the one that really measures what a society cares for and does, is considered a profit loss. Benefits what a word for bare substance in a world where your only worth, is considered by how much you pump to the top. Work on the other hand continues a lot done by women. Real work not shoving money around to break those ceilings, it is caring working for the world that we and our families all have, the family of humans have to live in.        

  •  suberb diary, NY brit expat (2+ / 0-)

    can't wait to see some of your photos right here

  •  Your diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat, nchristine, Neon Mama

    is excellent.  There is something terribly wrong everywhere.  The fact that they are imposing austerity measures on the disabled and giving them "tests," to judge their eligibility for work, especially for women, is an overwhelmingly horrifying prospect of the callous attitude that is being adopted by our world.  

    Some of your diary I can relate too being disabled and a social worker prior to becoming disabled.  However, here in the United States they are also trying to push disabled individuals off disability and I fear what the super congress is going to do come the next few months.

    However, I do believe your correct in assuming that they are pushing people, especially women, into poverty.  Moreover, disabled women run a higher risk of falling into severe poverty simple because their working years have been cut short and they have never earned the salaries that men have.  But, moreover, even if someone with a disability does find part-time work or even full time any sign of a problem will get them fired and then they will have nothing.  I believe this also holds true for minorities.  It is a double edge sword for all that are being made victims for the bankers.

    The thing that pissed me off the most is that I didn't create this crisis, I worked hard while trying to put myself through school and lived through a great deal of hardships to get through and made sacrifices including living in a horrid apartment that had rats.  But, it isn't just about my experiences it is also about the many women I know that are also in my situation.  

    This should not be happening and it is placing many women in a very precarious future.

    "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolution­ary act. " George Orwell

    by zaka1 on Fri Nov 11, 2011 at 06:04:03 AM PST

    •  I cannot tell you how much I agree with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      everything that you have said. Thank you! What frightens me a lot is the lack of documentation and how the information is broken up into small bits so that the general picture is hard to get a grasp of, this is deliberate of course; when the news media addresses these things, everything is separated and spread in small bites and never brought together coherently.

      I went to the demo and literally spent the whole week infuriated at the slow and small pace of response to these attacks on the disabled, upon women, upon the poor and the rest of the working class. We are not alone, I know many women in our situation and the political and economic rulers of our governments and extra-governmental agencies treat us as numbers and people that they can dump all kinds of horrors on to save their precious banking system and the system as a whole.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Fri Nov 11, 2011 at 07:08:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Statistics (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat

        and research can be manipulated, that is why most of us that have taken research classes or have written a thesis know that we are being lied to.  The media is used to dish out proganda for corporations and the banks.  I fear what is happening.  This type of mentality is how the Holocaust was brought about and many other genocides such as Rwanda.  

        Maybe I'm being silly, but I at times feel this is being done purposely and with intent.  If you watch the market every time payment is due by a country to the banks further austerity is installed on the people under the threat of default.  The market begins to fall until further austerity measures are put in placed on the people for payment to the banks and then when it looks like the country will not default the markets soar upwards.  Perhaps it is just investors, but my feeling is this is more it is financial manipulation to force austerity on the people in order for the 1% to keep their wealth.

        I think many are worried, but I do not think our political system is all of a sudden going to turn around.  Some politicians are talking about raising a billion dollars for election while the super congress is considering cutting Medicare, SS, and Medicaid.  It truly makes me sick.  This system can not be sustained in my humble opinion.  This is the first time in my life that I can't see things being done for the greater good of society.  Our current political system is no longer about the people, they only look at the numbers to make cuts, but not to acknowledge that perhaps there is a problem that needs to be fixed.  

        Thank you so much for writing your diary, it is comfort to know I'm not alone.  

        "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolution­ary act. " George Orwell

        by zaka1 on Fri Nov 11, 2011 at 01:43:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Women and children (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat

    Suffer most in hard economic times ,that is why women cannot truly   rely on thier Corporate Knight in Shing Armor

  •  Lots of women that believe in biblical teaching (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neon Mama

    Saying women suppose to stay home and not work, suffer a lot too after thier husband bail on them and they  have no mean of providing for thier self or thier children ,any woman  that believe this is very naive  

  •  Remember when it was scandal that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat

    welfare moms "just had more kids to get paid bigger check?"  

    So they tried to "cure" it in many states by limiting # taxes would pay for.   Yet all that time the same mindset folk were babbling just as loudly about the sin of not carrying every pregnancy to full term.  

    So maybe we can get them to stop forced reproduction thru eggperson laws & such   ---------->  by putting a CASH price on our reproductive function.  

    Our baby factories should get paid for this valuable product we manufacture at risk of our health/life.    And no, a few hundred dollars of tax "deduction" doesn't even start to cover the real cost.  

    Florida ACLU put up IncorporateMyUterus website when they chastized a rep for using his wife's line that maybe she should incorporate her uterus to stop legislature trying to pass the 18 bills to regulate female reproduction.  Can't say "uterus" , oh dear.  

    The ridicule was good to make a point.   But --- real cash price would be way more effective.   I want cost plus contracts like the kill & torture contractors get.  

    Farmers get subsidy to NOT plant a field.  Stay home mom's should then get subsidy to let their paid job skills sit idle --- plus a rebate for homemaker/parenting work.  

    De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

    by Neon Mama on Fri Nov 11, 2011 at 09:25:04 AM PST

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