Leaving the EU will have an especially devastating effect on women, according to a new independent report.
The report published today by the Women’s Budget Group and the Fawcett Society warns that the UK's poorest and most vulnerable women are likely to bear the brunt of Brexit. If the government opts for a 'hard' Brexit and we leave the Single Market and Customs Union, the situation for women is likely to become even worse.
Because we've been bombarded with so many stories of Brexit doom and gloom, it's becoming all too easy to zone out. But this report argues convincingly that a post-Brexit economic slump could have a very real impact on women's everyday lives. Workplace rights, parental leave, and rights for part-time workers (on which more women than men rely) could all be threatened.
A slump could also cause government cuts to public services, a sector of employment where women are more likely to work. Other sectors with a largely female workforce such as clothing and textiles could be harmed by increased trade barriers.
On top of this, a drop in the value of the pound coupled with increased trade tariffs would probably drive up food prices, affecting the women who tend to manage budgets in the UK's poorest households.
"This report clearly shows we risk turning the clock back on gender equality as a result of Brexit," says the Fawcett Society's CEO Sam Smethers.
"In the context of any economic downturn, the argument will be made that sacrificing employment rights and protections is justifiable to make some workers more employable. Those vulnerable workers will overwhelmingly be women, so we cannot allow that to happen."
Smethers has also urged the government to "amend the EU Withdrawal Bill to protect these rights from being weakened post-Brexit."
Theresa May, it sounds as though the ball is in your court.
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