Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Boris Johnson's new Brexit Chief David Frost - threat to UK women's rights.


UK women beware of losing your rights! Alarm bells are clanging. Whether you voted to remain or leave the European Union or abstained – pay heed.
Boris Johnson’s new Brexit chief, David Frost, wants to scrap Theresa May’s commitment to protect British workers’ rights. This could result in women’s rights being consigned to the wheelie bin of history.

I have worked on women’s rights and Gender issues in over 50 countries and have watched  with alarm how, in the turmoil of a society in transition, whenever an opportunity arises to roll back women’s civil,  social, economic and political gains, they will be rolled back. It can happen with frightening speed as it did in former Communist countries and in the Arab uprisings. It is happening here in the UK.

David Frost former chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was appointed last week by Mr Johnson to replace Olly Robbins as Downing Street’s EU chief, a role that will see him leading any future talks with Brussels. Just two months ago David Frost former chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that EU rights should not automatically be written into law after Brexit. 

Frost is not the only man happy to scrap women’s hard won rights. Over the period of the BREXIT debate:
A headline in the Sunday Express was  specific: 

Former Conservative MEP Martin Callanan said in a speech:“One of the best ways to speed up growth is to … scrap the Pregnant Workers Directive and all of the other barriers to actually employing people if we really want to create jobs”. 
The EU has been at the forefront of driving greater gender equality for women. It has often felt over the years as though  the UK needed to be dragged along towards progress on women’s rights like an elephant on a piece of elastic. Without intervention from the European Union we would not have: 
·     equal treatment for part-time workers (the majority of whom are women); 
·     anti-discrimination legislation on employment, training and working conditions; 
·     the pregnant workers directive which gives women the right to take time off work to attend medical appointments; 
·     sex discrimination rules which place the burden of proof on the defendant. 
·     And it was the European Court of Justice that obliged the British government to amend the legislation to provide equal pay for work of equal value and to ensure women had equal pension rights with men.
Women's hard won rights, are prone to reversal at times of major changes and upheavals. This first came to my attention in the years immediately following the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. I was working as a Consultant for programmes  on women’s leadership with the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard and with the EU across 11  former Communist countries from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Hungary to the Baltics in the 1990s transition period.

Despite hopes that women would be one of the prime beneficiaries of the Arab Spring uprisings, they have instead been some of the biggest losers, as the revolts have brought conflict, instability, displacement and a rise in conservative religious groups in many parts of the region.
Until now here in the UK we  women have mostly relied  on EU law to make sure our rights get meaningful protection. EU directives provide a minimum standard for Member States. It is possible to go beyond these standards, but Member States cannot go beneath the floor. 

An article in the Telegraph was headlined:
The article said: ‘Britain must sweep aside thousands of needless EU regulations after Brexit to free the country from the shackles of Brussels, a coalition of senior MPs and business leaders have demanded.’

Calls to unravel what is seen by some as ‘European red tape’ are actually a threat to women’s hard won rights. Red tape also means regulations that protect citizens – women and men.
The loss of EU protection after Brexit would mean that the British government can do whatever it feels appropriate, unimpeded by international floors as the EU, safety net status will be removed.

At a meeting last year,  to shine a light on how to ensure precious rights gained by the majority gender during our long membership of the European Union are not set aside,  Professor Catherine Howard, Professor in European Union Law and Employment Law at the University of Cambridge,  explained “Under the current system if there is a conflict between EU and UK legislation, EU law would trump the UK directive. This means that an individual can go to their local court and get that corpusof the EU law enforced by the British courts. This principle is important for women. By abandoning such a system, rights for individual women and men  are at risk of being downgraded.” 

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sevgul Uludag first woman from Cyprus nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her journalistic work bringing Turkish and Greek Cypriots together.

My friend Sevgul Uludag has been nominated for the Nobel Peace prize. 
She is the first woman from Cyprus to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her journalistic work in bringing together the two main communities of the island – Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots – by showing them with her work that their pain is a common human pain and through her work producing democratic solutions to the problems of the communities in Cyprus and her peace activism.

She helped to set up TOGETHER WE CAN where relatives of “missing persons” and victims of war from the two communities have been working together for the first time in the past decade to find burial sites of “missing persons”, as well as pioneering for reconciliation and peace and for facing the history of the conflict together in order to move towards the future. She set up a “Hot Line” with her own mobile phone and mobilised readers from both parts of the divided island to call in and give information to her about this sensitive humanitarian issue and as a result of these calls, many burial sites of “missing persons” on both sides of the island were found and remains of “missing persons” were exhumed by the official Cyprus Missing Persons’ Committee and returned to the relatives for burial. Her work heals wounds of the war and conflict in Cyprus. 
Uludag born in 1958 in Cyprus is an investigative journalist writing in newspapers in both parts of the divided island Cyprus in Turkish in YENIDUZEN and in Greek in POLITIS and on her blog in English, has focused for the past two decades on stories of “missing persons”, “mass graves” and “rapes during times of conflict” has been nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. She is also a gender and peace activist and spent last four decades of her life, bringing together women from across the dividing line in Cyprus, setting up joint women NGOs, training women on peace, gender and organisational skills, pioneering in this field as a peace activist. 
She is one of the founders of HANDS ACROSS THE DIVIDE, the first bicommunal women’s NGO in Cyprus. She had also set up the Women’s Research Centre which held activities around gender and peace for many years, in coalition with women NGOs from both parts of the island. She was also one of the founders of Women’s Movement for Peace and a Federal Solution in Cyprus in the 80s… She worked voluntarily in the Women’s Platform in the 90s to train women on a big scale from rural to urban areas on issues of gender, peace and organisational skills.
She is the first woman from Cyprus to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her journalistic work in bringing together the two main communities of the island – Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots – by showing them with examplary pieces of her work that their pain is a common human pain and through her work producing democratic solutions to the problems of the communities in Cyprus and her peace activism.
She helped to set up TOGETHER WE CAN where relatives of “missing persons” and victims of war from the two communities have been working together for the first time in the past decade to find burial sites of “missing persons”, as well as pioneering for reconciliation and peace and for facing the history of the conflict together in order to move towards the future. She set up a “Hot Line” with her own mobile phone and mobilised readers from both parts of the divided island to call in and give information to her about this sensitive humanitarian issue and as a result of these calls, many burial sites of “missing persons” on both sides of the island were found and remains of “missing persons” were exhumed by the official Cyprus Missing Persons’ Committee and returned to the relatives for burial. Her work heals wounds of the war and conflict in Cyprus.
Sevgul Uludag has several international awards for her work like “Courage in Journalism” given by the International Women’s Media Foundation, “European Citizens’ Prize” given by the European Parliament, “Press Freedom Award” given by the Reporters Without Borders Austrian section. She has several books like “Strategy and Planning for Women in Politics” (in Turkish) and “Oysters with the Missing Pearls – Untold stories of missing persons, mass graves and memories from the past of Cyprus” (in Turkish, Greek and English), “Cyprus: The Untold Stories” (in English).
Throughout her life, Sevgul Uludag has been receiving death threats and she faced hate speech, psychological terror, intimidation… But she did not give up what she was doing and her work as an investigative journalist and as a peace and gender activist has been based on humanitarism and she works voluntarily as a humanitarian task, inspiring the two main communities of the island and giving hope for peace and reconciliation…
Contact details of Sevgul Uludag:
Sevgululudag99@gmail.com
Caramel_cy@yahoo.com
00 357 99 966518 and 00 90 542 853 8436

Photo shows Sevgul Uludag at the burial site in Kytherea,Cyprus.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Hannah Yilma - Ethiopian activist, refugee, United Nations diplomat. 1943 – 2018. A personal tribute by Lesley Abdela

 


Hannah Yilma - Ethiopian activist, refugee, United Nations diplomat. 1943 – 2018




A personal tribute by Lesley Abdela

Hannah Yilma was a good friend for five decades. She was brave and cheerful no matter what life was throwing at her (and it did, in quantities). She was kind and funny and warm and passionate about politics. Hannah was quietly elegant with a wicked chuckle.

Born in Ethiopia, Hannah told me about happy times spent with her Father riding through their coffee plantation on horse-back when she was 14 or 15 years old. In this year of the 100th anniversary it is worth mentioning Hannah’s  parents knew Sylvia Pankhurst who lived in Ethiopia from the 1950s. Hannah’s Father helped support the monthly journal, Ethiopia Observer, in which Sylvia reported on Ethiopian life and development. Hannah’s Mother was Elisabeth Workeneh, her Father, Yilma Deressa was  Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the United States and Minister of Finance, at the time of Emperor Haile Selassie.

I first met Hannah in the 1960s when she came to London to attend St Godric’s Secretarial College. We met through mutual friends. She lived with a British family in Surrey who knew her Father through major agricultural business in Ethiopia. I remember admiring the  long light tweed winter dress she wore. It was under-stated quietly elegant with a pink coloured bodice and plaid checked skirt in the same pink with milky coffee beige. I went out and bought an identical dress.

The fact Hannah was at Secretarial College is ironic. She was dyslexic. Much of Hannah’s  life was a kaleidoscope of contradictions.   She looked well-behaved, demure and lady-like. Beneath she was unconventional.   In the swinging sixties she shared a flat in London with a couple of other friends.  One was Maggie Wolf. Maggie married Richard Mason, author of ‘The World of Suzie Wong’ on which the film of that name was based. Maggie and Richard moved to  Rome. Hannah was a frequent visitor.

Activist

Hannah’s  life changed after the Dergue government took power in Ethiopia in 1975. Following the ousting of Emperor Haile Selassie, her Father was imprisoned with other ministers and members of the Emperor’s family. The Communist dictatorship  executed and imprisoned tens of thousands of its opponents without trial.

Hannah  became active in the opposition movement against the military regime.
She and her cousin Dereje Deressa formed the Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU) and ran the  opposition radio station, “Voice of United Ethiopia” hostile to the military regime. She married the celebrated Ethiopian writer Sibhat Gebre-egziabher.

After threats of assassination  Hannah and her young son Iyassu were rescued secretly by a pilot in a small plane and flown  across the border to safety.  She and her husband lived apart from then on.  Hannah never talked much to me about her husband. Their  relationship, their marriage, and their publication ventures are said to be described in a fictionalised account in the book Derasiw by author Baalu Girma. Her Father died of cancer a political prisoner in an Addis Ababa prison.( Aged 71 in January 1979.)

Racism

Hannah experienced racism a number of times. At one stage when she rented author Neville Shute’s house in Seven Sisters, London she was furious with the local state school teacher who suggested 8 year son Iyassu should focus on sport rather than academic subjects. Hannah  said, “ They jumped to the assumption because he is black he should do sport. ” Hannah battled with the school to ensure her son had every academic opportunity.
 When he was a bit older the friends in Surrey enabled Iyassu to continue his education at a Boarding School in Surrey.   Iyassu graduated in Chemistry from Imperial College, University of London.

Later Hannah and her British Partner of many years, were living in flat in Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale. His company offered him promotion to a top job in the USA.  He told Hannah his employers, a major petroleum company said he would not be allowed to take Hannah with him to the United States.  He would need to choose between career promotion and living with his ‘black girl-friend’.

She  was left with the apartment, but she had no way of earning an income in the UK.
Hannah usually gave an outward positive view of life. But one day confided to me how tough things had become, ‘ Who wants to employ a 40 something, who is dyslexic, and who is black’ she said.  I was able to lend her money from winnings from a bet I put on John Major to become Leader of the Conservative Party. The odds were 50 to 1. (She paid me back the loan many years later.)

Hannah’s life continued to be under threat. One day when I was staying with her and Iyassu in their Flat in Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale. London.   She loaned me her dark red Volvo to drive somewhere. I opened the glove compartment to look for the ‘A to Z map’ and saw a gun there.  I was shaken. In the UK almost no-one carried guns. I asked Hannah about the gun ‘I keep the gun for my protection’ she said.

Diplomat

In 1991 she was finally offered a job where she could use her diplomatic skills. Hannah was an ace networker.   She became an Information Officer in the UN Department of Public Information. Hannah Yilma participated in two field missions; the UN Protective Force (UNPROFOR) in the former Yugoslavia, from 1994 to 1995, and the UN Observer Mission to South Africa (UNOMSA), from 1992-1994, as Civil Affairs Officer and Peace Observer. Prior to her final posting in South Africa, she served as a Political Affairs officer in the Situation Centre in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations from 1995-1998 and then held the post of Associate Spokesman in the Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General from 1998 to 2000.

She retired as the Director of the UN Information Centre Pretoria in 2005 and stayed on living in Pretoria.   I stayed with Hannah overnight in 2005 on my way to catch my flight home to UK from Johannesburg after a month I spent working on a project assessing the situation on women’s rights in Swaziland. Life had finally worked out for her. She was living in a large gated community in a nice house with a garden beside a lake.    In retirement she  remained actively involved in in non-governmental work, as well as in the diplomatic corps in South Africa.

Reunion

Several of us from London of the 1960s remained lifelong friends with Hannah. In  2016 She  organised a small reunion dinner in a Greek taverna in Bayswater for Advertising Photographer Sanders Nicolson  from Scotland, Maggie Wolf from Rome and her brother Adrian. Five decades earlier we had all been together just across the road at Queensway Ice skating rink when we heard the news US President John Kennedy had been shot .

Hannah and I last spoke on the phone in early June this year She told me she had ovarian cancer and it had been treated with a hysterectomy and chemo. She thought she was on the road to recovery. . She sounded optimistic and busy. It was a tremendous shock when her son Iyassu called.
She died in S.Africa where she lived for the past 20 years.

Here is a pic I took of Hannah in 2012. We had lunch together at the Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington and made a ‘pilgrimage’ to her son Iyassu’s alma mater Imperial College, nearby.



Hannah was rightly immensely proud of Iyassu. He is a leader in  preclinical drug discovery, early clinical development programs and therapeutic areas spanning cardiometabolic (diabetes, obesity, hypertension) and neuroscience (cognition). He was Director of Chemistry at Merck Pharmaceuticals in the USA and is now Head of Chemistry and Senior Director at Kallyope, New Jersey, USA.

As well as her son Iyassu Sebhat, Hannah Yilma  leaves two sisters Salome and Sophia.
(31 May 1943 – 14 August 2018)

 Lesley.abdela@shevolution.com









Tuesday, February 06, 2018

#Vote100 Salute to Millicent Fawcett women's suffrage campaign Leader






Salute to Dame Millicent Fawcett DBE  
President of the -The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) 1897 until 1919.

Millicent Fawcett campaigned within the law which is why she is less well known today than the Pankhursts' suffragette movement. As a campaigner myself for women's rights I can truly say that the scale of Millicent Fawcett's achievement, her tenacity  and determination is absolutely awesome. Millicent Fawcett was President of The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) 1897 until 1919.
The NUWSS was fifty times bigger than the militant suffrage movement - the Women's Suffrage and Political Union (WSPU)with only some 2,000 members. Millicent Fawcett's suffrage union had 500 local branches and over 100,000 members. They held over 300 public meetings per week and massive peaceful marches, organised petitions, wrote letters.  Millicent Fawcett Millicent Fawcett was an exceptionally capable organiser, mobiliser and fund-raiser for 'the cause'. She used constitutional methods. Her approach was to use reason an/d patience, based on persistent lobbying and public education.
Millicent Fawcett was one of the vintage generation of women activists who brought about reforms for women's  lives that impact on us today.    One of the scenes in history that I would most like to have witnessed is a scene in 1860 at the Garrett family home - Alde House, Aldeburgh. In front of the bedroom fire, three girls were brushing their hair. They were two sisters : Elizabeth and Millicent Garrett, and their friend, the famous feminist Emily Davies. Emily was 29,  Elizabeth 23 and Millicent 13. As they brushed their hair they chatted: "Women can get nowhere", said Emily, "'unless they are as well educated as men. I shall open the universities." She did it. In her life Emily Davies succeeded in opening up access to women for university   - including founding Girton College College.

"Yes," agreed her friend Elizabeth Garrett . 'We need education but we need an income too and we can't earn that without training and a profession. I shall start women in medicine."  She did it. Elizabeth Garrett became the first qualified British woman Doctor. Elizabeth Garrett Browning Hospital is named after her.

Elizabeth looked at her younger sister and said, "But what shall we do with Milly?"  They agreed that Millie should get the parliamentary vote for women. Millicent too succeeded in her allotted life- task.
Millicent  (Garrett) Fawcett  campaigned for over 60 years from 1857 until 1928 -  for women to have the right to vote and to stand for parliament and to have full  rights as equal citizens with men.  She was author a number of publications. Her: 'Political Economy for Beginners' became a bestseller with ten editions in twenty-five years.

Shameful behaviour of Gladstone, Churchill and Asquith
 In giving her entire adult life to the great cause, fighting every day for votes for women, she and her suffragist supporters  were endlessly mocked, derided and treated with contempt by these pillars of the British Establishment The great political 'A' List celebrity beasts who are so revered today, Gladstone, Winston Churchill, Asquith and their colleagues have a shameful record of duplicity and arrogance. These men in no way behaved as democrats.
For daring to ask for democracy - the right for half the population to have a say in who governs Britain  Millicent Garrett Fawcett and her fellow suffrage campaigners were the butt of ribald humour, adverse press comment, and duplicity.  The very mention of the word 'women' in the House of Commons produced laughter and derision. In a debate in the House of Commons, Liberal MP Labouchere said - "it would be as useful to extend the vote to rabbits as to women!"
 Despite being tricked and trivialised by Gladstone, Asquith  Winston Churchill and their colleagues,  year after year Millicent sat patiently in the lobby of the House of Commons waiting for appointments with Ministers and Members of Parliament. I think it would be a fitting and ironic tribute for a bronze statue of Millicent Fawcett sitting on one of the benches in Central Lobby……….similar to the bronze figures of Churchill and Roosevelt who sit on a bench in Bond Street.

Having a blind husband turned out to be a great asset in learning about politics
Three other men played a pivotal role in Millicent Fawcett's life - the first was her Father -  the second was  Radical MP and philosopher John Stuart Mill
and the third was her husband Henry Fawcett, an economics professor at Cambridge who was also a Liberal MP. He had been blinded in a shooting accident when he was aged 22.
The result of her having worked alongside her blind husband in his political activities  meant that after his early death in 1884,  Millicent Fawcett was the only woman in the early suffrage movement  who understood how to wheel and deal with politicians - how to choose the right people to lobby and how to approach them. At this time in Victorian England it was not considered proper for a woman to speak on a platform at a public meeting. The partnership with her blind husband gave Millicent  the chance to learn the trade of politics. Because of Henry's condition, Millicent Garrett Fawcett served as his amanuensis, secretary, and companion as well as his wife. The husband and wife team of Henry Fawcett and Millicent Garrett Fawcett  was similar to that  of their mentor  John Stuart Mill and his platonic love, (and later wife) Harriet Taylor. Besides being among the leading feminists of their time, the two women provided both intellectual stimulation and feminine perception of the highest degree to their partners.

World War 1 and Lloyd George
Millicent Garrett Fawcett  supported the British war effort in World War I, believing that if women supported the war effort, suffrage would naturally be granted at the end of the war. In the  London Suffrage Society's case this was  mainly through the setting up of the Women's Service Bureau, to place women both as volunteers and into essential paid war work -which included ambulance drivers, medics, the setting up of training schemes for women welders and munitions workers.  This war work contributed to their main purpose - with increased activity in Parliament in 1917 around the Representation of the People Bill.
 In March 1917 Millicent Fawcett led a deputation that included representative of 24 women's suffrage societies to see new Prime Minster, Lloyd George and in February

Victory in 1918. Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act.
The Representation of the People Act allowed the vote, to women with property over the age of 30.
After a struggle of  52 years Millicent returned home to Gower Street from the House of Lords, triumphant from witnessing the victory of Women's suffrage. The press flocked to her home. A journalist knowing of her fifty years association with the movement, asked her to describe briefly its 'ups' and 'downs'. She replied that  it had been all 'ups' and no 'downs.'  He looked perplexed and incredulous. Millicent Fawcett continued with words that I feel best sums up the progress since the 1950s….
She said : "The history of the women's movement  for the last fifty years is the gradual removal of intolerable grievances. Sometimes the pace was fairly rapid; sometimes it was very slow ; but it was always constant , and always in one direction. I have sometimes compared it, in its slowness  to the movement of a glacier; but like a glacier it  was ceaseless and irresistible.  You could not see it move, but if you compared it with a stationary object and looked again after an interval of months or years, you had proof positive it had moved. It always moved in the direction of the removal of the statutory and social disabilities of women. It established their individual liberty and freedom; they were in fact passing from subjection to independence . That is why I said the history of the movement has been all 'ups' and no 'downs. "      

Millicent Garrett Fawcett turned over the NUWSS presidency to Eleanor Rathbone, as the organization transformed itself into the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship (NUSEC) and worked for lowering the voting age for women to 21, the same as for men.
In 1924, Millicent Garrett Fawcett was given the Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, and became Dame Millicent Fawcett.

Until her death Millicent continued to campaign for votes for women on the same basis as men including - in her 80s -  taking part in the famous Mud March in Hyde Park.

She died in London just months after women got the right to vote on an equal basis with men in 1929.

Millicent Fawcett  earned the words on the memorial she shares with her husband in Westminster Abbey. The words say : "A wise, constant and courageous Englishwoman who won citizenship for women."
(Dame Millicent Fawcett DBE - June 11, 1847 - August 5 1929)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00gj7nf

 https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/vote-100

Monday, November 13, 2017

BREXIT Repeal Bill. Women's rights may be dumped in the wheelie bin.

Please feel free to circulate my article. I would appreciate if you attribute quotes by name to Lesley Abdela. Thanks!

The last time Britain's laws were up for modification on such an immense scale it was under the Normans. It took  800 years before women got back rights they lost in the process. Unless amended the Government ‘Repeal Bill’ may ultimately result in women’s rights being dumped in the wheelie bin of history. 


Women in the UK have mostly relied on EU law and the European Court of Justice to make sure our rights get meaningful protection.  Ministers will import thousands of EU rules and regulations on to our statute books as part of the Repeal Bill. All existing EU legislation will be copied across into domestic UK law. Under the Government’s proposed fast-speed ‘Henry V111’ procedures unless there is oversight and scrutiny it will be all too easy for business interests to persuade Government  to get rid of what they perceive as ‘red – tape’. Warning Signals for UK  women to beware of losing their employment rights in the BREXIT transition process are coming thick and fast.

The Sunday Express announced, ‘Equal pay diktat is just more red tape for business. [1]

A Telegraph article titled ‘Cut the EU red tape choking Britain after Brexit to set the country free’ stated, ‘Britain must sweep aside thousands of needless EU regulations after Brexit to free the country from the shackles of Brussels, a coalition of senior MPs and business leaders has demanded.’[[2]

MEP Martin Callanan said in a speech, ‘One of the best ways to speed up growth is to … scrap the Pregnant Workers Directive and all of the other barriers to actually employing people if we really want to create jobs.[3]

The EU has been at the forefront of driving greater gender equality for women including: equal treatment for part-time workers (the majority of whom are women); anti-discrimination legislation on employment, training and working conditions; the pregnant workers directive which gives women the right to take time off work to attend medical appointments; sex discrimination rules which place the burden of proof on the defendant. And it was the European Court of Justice that obliged the British government to amend the legislation to provide equal pay for work of equal value and to ensure women had equal pension rights with men. EU directives provide a minimum standard for Member States. It is possible to go beyond these standards, but Member States cannot go beneath the floor.

I have worked on women’s rights in over 50 countries and seen how in the turmoil of a society in transition whenever an opportunity arises to roll back women’s civil,  social, economic and political gains, they will be rolled back. It can happen with frightening speed.  I saw first-hand how women's rights gained in the Soviet era - often considerable,  due to industrial development, were scrubbed, out as financially costly and unnecessary in the new free market world in the opinions of men from the corporate world.

More recently we witnessed a dramatic example of rapid reverse during and after the uprisings in the Arab World. At the height of the revolutions men welcomed women as partners in the struggle for democracy as, for example,  in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.  But after the uprising women’s rights were deliberately damned and reversed as a hangover from the ancienne regimes.

Here at home in the UK the loss of EU protection after Brexit would mean the British government can do whatever it feels appropriate, unimpeded by international floors. The  EU, safety net status for women’s rights  will be removed. Brexit  secretary David Davis  has told Parliament any substantive policy issues would be dealt with by new laws scrutinised by parliament with a topping up by  a fast-track process now dubbed the ‘Henry Vlll’ process after the Statute of Proclamations 1539 which gave him the power to legislate by proclamation. This will not involve the usual Parliamentary scrutiny process, opposition parties (and some Conservatives)  have protested at Ministers being handed "sweeping powers" to make hasty, ill thought-out legislation.

When Britain's laws were last up for modification on such an immense scale. It started a few miles from where I live in East Sussex, at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The evidence which has survived from Anglo-Saxon England is that women were more nearly the equal companions of their husbands and brothers than at any other period before the modern era. In the Anglo-Saxon legal system women Anglo-Saxon women were their own creatures and not merely appendages to their husbands. In the higher ranges of society this rough and ready partnership was ended by the Norman Conquest which introduced into England a military society relegating women to a position honourable but essentially unimportant.  It took over 800 years after the Norman conquest before Britain's women gained the right not to be viewed as a husband's property, with the Married Woman’s Property Act of 1882!

What can you do?
Please ask MPs and Peers to propose an amendment demanding  the public sector equality duty (section 149 Equality Act 2010) be used to protect women's rights during the BREXIT Repeal Bill process.
The Equality Act  imposes a duty on all public authorities and bodies performing public functions to give ‘due regard’ in the performance of functions to the need -
a) to eliminate discrimination; b) to advance equality of opportunity;
c) to foster good (gender) relations. The need to give 'due regard' to the advance equality of opportunity means identifying the barriers to equal opportunity in any particular context and considering what steps could. 
This duty is often honoured more in the breach, or in an entirely 'tick-box' way, but the UK Supreme Court says it must be conducted "in substance, with rigour and an open mind" (Hotak v London Borough of Southwark, 2013).

MPs and Peers should be Government Ministers the following questions  :
Will the repatriation processes be monitored in compliance with Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010?  If so, by whom at each stage? What powers will they have? For example, will there be opportunities for outsiders with particular interest and expertise to scrutinise areas considered important from the women’s rights perspective to ensure that in all political, employment, economic and societal spheres women and girls do not lose rights they had gained.  

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In addition to my suggestion you can support ‘Face Her Future’. A call to action by over 20 women's and equalities organisations 
https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/faceherfuturehttps://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/faceherfuture






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