Naomi White Talks Politics: Mind the gap

This year has already seen female strength and empowerment hit a total high.

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I’ve grown up with everything from the likes of the Spice Girls and girl-power; an ever-increasing number of female politicians entering the scene; and more recently, what some call a ‘third wave’ of feminism.

January may have been and gone but I am still reeling from the pure sense of power and solidarity that was witnessed at the women’s marches staged across the globe against Donald Trump, his presidency and his policies.

Women, as a collective, are still committed to climbing the rungs on the very long ladder to surpass what comprises societal norms and tradition.

We are now seeing the internet generation taking full grip of the opportunities and tools they are presented with, to provide a multitude of viewpoints on female issues. I’m constantly encouraged by the amount of female support that there is out there, and the support that grows for groups that are still thought of as minorities, but which are now growing in size and in recognition.

We have come so far, yet we have so much more to conquer. An article published by the Mail on Sunday (Sunday 19th) is immediate proof of this.

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) – the department that has been, and will continue to be – instrumental in the new requirement for large firms to submit data on pay gaps in the workplace, has an embarrassing problem of its own. According to the Mail’s sources, the GEO pays its female civil servants around six percent less than its male employees. This inequality also extends to ethnic staff (who are paid 12.3 per cent less than the white workforce) and again across to disabled staff (reportedly being paid 11.25 per cent less than their able-bodied colleagues).

equality mind the gap

The GEO is headed up by Justine Greening, our Women’s Minister. As our society changes and reshapes itself for the modern generation, we have never been more in need for female role models, politicians being amongst those. We have the likes of models from Chantelle Brown-Young to Ashley Graham, promoting more than one standard body size as well as subverting and reworking traditional beauty ideals, and artists like Beyoncé and Lady Gaga challenging the social norm. This needs to continue to extend to the political world.

Mhairi Black, Britain’s youngest MP and fiercely outspoken, is an excellent example; and internationally we have the likes of Michelle Obama, who perseveres in her quest to give adolescent girls worldwide the chance to learn. Women need role models across the board, in every sector. Ones that say as they do and do as they say. This doesn’t just go for Greening, but for everyone running the GEO, a body which might just be opposing everything it is meant to stand for.

Tory backbencher, Philip Davies, makes an interesting point, ‘Given that one of the GEO’s top priorities is to stamp out these pay gaps […], I don’t see how it can be in a position to lecture everybody else on this when it can’t even manage to do it.’

He’s right. Hypocrisy of this kind should not exist in policy making, but nor should the individual representing an entire gender bracket for the UK be heading up such a department. And whilst I’m hesitant to fully believe the news until the source of the figures is confirmed, it does make my heart sink a little.

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