MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Tue 05-Jan-16 15:12:23

Guest panel: What are your hopes for women in 2016?

Four writers, bloggers and campaigners share their thoughts on how women will fare in the coming year.

First up is Deputy Editor of the New Statesman, Helen Lewis, who hopes that 2016 will be the year we'll hold men and women to equal standards

Helen Lewis

Deputy Editor, New Statesman

Posted on: Tue 05-Jan-16 15:12:23


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"Hillary Clinton shows how much better a woman has to be in order to be considered anything near equal."

My biggest hope for women in 2016 is that we look carefully at the standards we are holding them to – are they truly equal? Or do we expect women to be twice as good to get the same treatment as men?

Do we expect women to be twice as good to get the same treatment as men?

In the American presidential race, Hillary Clinton is a great example of how much better a woman has to be in order to be considered anything near equal. Here's a woman with decades of experience in public life, including time as Secretary of State, and her challengers – in the Republican party – include a reality TV host, several unexceptional junior senators and various state governors. It's crazy.

By Helen Lewis

Twitter: @helenlewis

MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Tue 05-Jan-16 15:12:23

Victoria Smith (a.k.a. Glosswitch) is fed up with the exploitation of women as default carers – and says that, unless we act in 2016, the burden will only get heavier

Victoria Smith


Posted on: Tue 05-Jan-16 15:12:23


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"Most caring work is still performed by women, for little or no pay."

Can 2016 be the year in which we finally get a grip on the relationship between gender, power and wiping arses? Because I for one am sick of being a member of the class who cleans up everyone else’s mess and sticks it in a lightly fragranced bag so that no one ever need know that it was there.

We're more than halfway through the second decade of the twenty-first century and most caring work is still performed by women, for little or no pay. What's more, if we don't do anything about it now, the situation will only get worse. Austerity measures are increasing and it will be women – mothers, daughters, grandmothers, partners, low-paid care workers – who suffer the most. When male government ministers make cuts, they do so in the knowledge that cultural expectations placed on women will force them to fill the gaps.

Women's work has always been invisible. Even by those closest to them, women are treated as a resource.

Women's work has always been invisible. Even by those closest to them, women are treated as a resource. If we were to describe it properly, we would call it a form of exploitation and a form of theft.

There are some who insist on viewing care work as something mothers choose to take on. But with an ageing population and dwindling support networks, even childless women are faced with an increasingly heavy burden. Until we get men to do their fair share – or to hand over the resources we're owed for doing ours – gender equality will elude us. So let's do something about this in 2016. If we wait another year, we might all be too exhausted.

By Victoria Smith

Twitter: @glosswitch

MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Tue 05-Jan-16 15:12:23

Karen Ingala Smith, founder of the Counting Dead Women campaign, recognises that 2016 won't see an end to men's fatal violence against women – but hopes for greater understanding that these crimes aren't isolated incidents

Karen Ingala Smith

Counting Dead Women

Posted on: Tue 05-Jan-16 15:12:23


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"Imagine if, in 2016, the total number of UK women killed by men named in my campaign remained at zero."

The thing I'd like most for women in 2016 would be the end of men's violence against women. Imagine that. No more rape, no more intimate partner violence, no more FGM, no more child marriage, no more prostitution, no more pornography – and no more men killing women. Imagine if, in 2016, the total number of UK women killed by men named in my Counting Dead Women campaign remained at zero.

The worldwide rates of women suffering intimate partner violence from their male partners vary between 4% of women in some countries, to up to 40% in others. The most important variables behind these differences are the economic wealth of the country, social norms around male dominance and control, and the level of acceptability of men's violence in intimate relationships. If we want to end men's violence against women, we need to end sex inequality. However, rebalancing economic inequality alone is not the answer; we need to end all forms of male dominance and the ways that it is created and maintained, such as socially constructed gender and the commodification and objectification of women.

If we want to end men's violence against women, we need to end sex inequality.

It isn't going to happen, is it? Not in my lifetime of new years. For 2016, I'd settle for a greater understanding that men's violence against women, including fatal violence, goes beyond 'domestic violence'. In 2015 women were killed by their sons, rapists they'd never met before, men they worked with and their brothers – as well as partners and ex partners. It's time we stopping ignoring the deaths of women who aren't killed by their partners, so we can understand the scale of men's fatal violence against women. Finally, in 2016 I hope to never again hear the phrase 'isolated incident' to refer to any example of a man killing a woman.

By Karen Ingala Smith

Twitter: @K_IngalaSmith

MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Tue 05-Jan-16 15:12:23

Founder of 50:50 Parliament Frances Scott argues that, while we saw female politicians come to the fore in 2015, Westminster has a long way to go to equality

Frances Scott

50:50 Parliament

Posted on: Tue 05-Jan-16 15:12:23


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"Progress is painfully slow."

2015 saw female politicians applauded for their impressive work: Angela Merkel was named Person of the Year by the Financial Times and Time Magazine, and Nicola Sturgeon topped the Woman's Hour Power List. During the general election, women were a powerful presence on the platform during the leaders' debates - but there is a still long way to go for women to be equally involved in politics.

There are still more men in the Commons than there have ever been women MPs, and there are 400 more male peers than female in the House of Lords.

There are currently 191 female MPs – but this accounts for only 29% of parliament. Worryingly, it's also a record high. Progress is painfully slow: there are still more men in the Commons than there have ever been women MPs, and there are 400 more male peers than female in the House of Lords. This impacts policy making – with the recent tampon tax debate being an example that is just the tip of the iceberg.

We also need a parliament that is inclusive - not least of parents - so that women are inclined and able to participate. There are proportionally fewer parents (relative to UK averages) at Westminster, but having children should not be seen as incompatible with a career in politics.

In 2016 I hope that people inside and outside Westminster will keep the pressure up in asking for solutions to get a more gender balanced, inclusive, modern parliament. 150 years after the Suffrage Petition of 1866 50:50 Parliament are calling upon all party leaders for solutions to get better gender balance at Westminster - and you can sign our petition here.

By Frances Scott

Twitter: @5050Parliament

meditrina Wed 06-Jan-16 15:26:33

I would like to see every community in the world having safe water.

(It's mainly women and girls who get the burden of fetching it, or caring for those sick because of the lack of it).

I would like to see children everywhere on globe receiving an adequate education, irrespective of their sex.

(It's often less accessible for girls).

ArcheryAnnie Wed 06-Jan-16 16:15:17

Agree with Glosswitch entirely. I've written before about standing in line at Boots with a basket containing both adult nappies for my late mum and baby nappies for my son, and feeling at the lowest point it was possible for a human being to be. And late in the day, just after I'd discovered the local Carers' Centre (which was useful chiefly as a place where I knew people gave a shit, and saw me as a person with my own needs and wants), my local council shut it down and flogged off the building...

nickheap Wed 06-Jan-16 17:30:21

The injustice women face every day is a scandal and diminishes everyone. I know as a man that I take advantage of it, but it is not right or fair. I wish the campaign every success and I would encourage those that participate be very determined and never give up!


Silky2015 Wed 06-Jan-16 17:43:33

Re quoting med (sorry don't usually post) I would like to see every community in the world having safe water.

(It's mainly women and girls who get the burden of fetching it, or caring for those sick because of the lack of it).

I would like to see children everywhere on globe receiving an adequate education, irrespective of their sex.

(It's often less accessible for girls).

This is hugely important in my view.

anrulawson Wed 06-Jan-16 19:15:27

I am so delighted with all four great statements about the issues we need to change for women to be able to live unafraid of male violence, equally valued, equally able to take up powerful/decision-making careers including as legislators, and to be recognised and valued for our extraordinary contributions.
Brilliant Mumsnet! Thanks. Now let's make those changes....

HermioneWeasley Wed 06-Jan-16 19:34:43

Toilets and sanitary protection for all women around the world. Young women in developing countries miss out in education hugely because of menstruation

anrulawson Wed 06-Jan-16 21:47:43


0phelia Wed 06-Jan-16 22:28:58

Ignoring the fact that Hilary Clinton is corrupt as they come, allied to Saudi Arabia with their atrocious human rights record and treatment of women... Owned by bribery and right-wing injustices. She is no "better" than that.

I'd like to see a year that enlightens women across the globe.

Taking part in your own opression damages all women. Women need to be educated to recognise their own opression, usually disguised as religious or economic "choice", first.

Education of women, for women.

anrulawson Wed 06-Jan-16 23:23:08

Well, I try not to attack women or a woman anywhere and to vote in line with my goals of more women (of all sorts) in positions of power though of course I would like them not to be corrupt nor fascists etc. etc.. But i agree about education - feminism in schools for starters. Teachers trained in gender inequality.

If you don't know about the Sustainable Development Goals Ophelia, you might like to look them up.

Movingonmymind Thu 07-Jan-16 07:49:22

Affordable/free Sanitary protection on tap in every area of every country, a big ask! It is SUCH a barrier to female life chances, especially school- in relatively 'developed' South Africa, a large proportion of teenage girls miss 25% of their schooling due to a lack of Sanpro at home/in school and many of these go on to fail to graduate from high school, unacceptable!

Want2bSupermum Thu 07-Jan-16 08:37:56

Hilary Clinton does not have decades of experience in politics. She was the wife of the President which is not relevant experience. Also as someone who can vote in the US I'm disappointed they can't find a better candidate. If my DH had an affair with an intern as a member of senior management I would be divorcing him. The fact she hasn't speaks volumes. She is married to a man who abused his position of power and who ruined the life of an intern who he took advantage of. Shame on her H but what a shame she felt she couldn't divorce him.

She is also as slimy as they come. She isn't better than others but about half an inch from breaking the law at best.

Bubbletree4 Thu 07-Jan-16 09:22:24

I find this a bit confusing tbh.

We are in the UK and the status/rights that women have here are very different from other parts of the world.

Firstly, regarding Hilary Clinton in the US. We are decades ahead here - Thatcher was our female PM in the 1970s! So I don't really see the relevance of the OP on that point. And frankly, if I was being blunt, I'd argue that men are more power hungry and women are more sensible and practical. I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind wanting the job of PM/President. It must be utterly appalling to actually do that job. But men are more likely to overlook that - the upside being power/ego for them. So more men will apply.

If I was Hilary Clinton, aged 68 with a grandchild, I'd want to be retired and see my grandchild. If I was Donald Trump aged 69, again, I'd want to do something more personally valuable, whatever he enjoys and that makes him happy. I can't relate to him so unsure what that might be! Perhaps the power trip is just the thing for him.

In addition, American politics is filthy and corrupt. I don't think it has to do with women/men gender issues. It has to do with money.

The issue regarding sanitary products. Again this doesn't apply to the UK so I see this as a developmental issue for the countries involved (which we could help with like many other international issues but it is not a UK issue).

I actually feel that in the UK, women do have their rights protected by laws. Chasing more for women is bizarre IMO. I think women and men are equal and most younger people also think this. I think we run the risk of creating a gender war. I have a girl and a boy, everything in their lives is equal. I also have a younger brother who feels that young single men are oppressed in our society and that they are always the bottom of the pile. They pay lots of tax but don't get much (if anything) back - they are cash cows. They have the highest suicide rates, they do worse educationally, they are last in the line for everything from a seat on public transport to putting in longer hours when parents (of both genders) will "have" to leave work to deal with other commitments.

The issue of violence/women being killed is a criminal issue. It is actually illegal to assault people of either gender but once a person does that, they've stepped outside the law and UK society's rules. No sane person thinks violence against women is OK.

So flame me grin

Movingonmymind Thu 07-Jan-16 10:05:17

Bubble- 'hopes for women in 2016' I read as both global and domestic, how can it not be?!

As for Sanpro, it is a UK issue for us all from the financial point of view- taxed as a luxury item! Also it is a huge issue for many vulnerable women who are homeless and can't get access to what they need, ditto in prisons when Sanpro is rationed, apparently, to a few pads each month, irrespective of need! Ditto in US and Australian prisons! And this in e first world, god help those in developing countries or those where it's unmentionable/unclean so you don't ask and you don't get and campaigners don't campaign due to sanpor's inherently uggh factor. If men had periods, it would be a badge of honour and free Sanpro all round angry

Movingonmymind Thu 07-Jan-16 10:10:10

And violence against women? Domestic violence is a huge issue in the uK, domestic matter whether it's criminal or not, will still happen!
2 women a week in the uk are killed by their partners, 1000s more are badly injured/permanently disabled. So while I agree with you that young men need to particular focus of attention as regards education, suicide rates, absolutely, this does not detract from the very real needs of women. Saying we are equal with 2 murders a week and a 30% gender gap does not make us so, sadly.

Bubbletree4 Thu 07-Jan-16 10:50:34

I don't see the issues as global because different countries are at different stages. Each country has its own laws, taxes and customs that are determined in that particular country.

Let's say that sanitary protection was made free in country x. It would have no impact on any other country. Things can't be free just because they are needed. Is electricity free? Someone has to pay.

The vast majority of men shave their faces with some sort of razor. Even if they choose to have a beard/moustache, they will still need to groom it with a piece of equipment. Men pay tax on these products. The govt needs tax revenue in the UK to meet all our expenses. If you want to bring fairness into it, perhaps all childless people should be receiving a tax rebate on the amount of their income tax that goes to fund schools? Sanitary protection in the UK has hugely varying costs anyway. You could choose to buy a mooncup as a one off cost. You could choose to buy cheaper branded sanitary towels or tampons. You could buy them on BOGOF. Etc.

With the issue of domestic violence, women will be hugely disproportionately the victims of these crimes. Mr Average will be bigger and stronger than Mrs Average. But, I still do think that this particular crime is exactly that - a crime. I cannot understand what additional laws would protect women from this crime because it is already against the law. What I can see is that the government could take steps to set up agencies to help the victims out of the situation and severely punish the offenders. The fundamental problem with this crime is that it is taking place behind closed doors in people's private homes so it is very difficult to detect and prove. In addition, the perpetrator will be the woman's husband or partner generally so the woman is in a position where she faces leaving her home and her life to get away from the perpetrator. These are the big barriers to eradicating this crime - not state persecution of women.

NellyTimes Thu 07-Jan-16 11:09:12

I'd like for women to be seen as individuals who have their own hopes and dreams for 2016 rather than lumped together in one category like this. What a load of crap.

Movingonmymind Thu 07-Jan-16 12:50:27

Bubble- never said Sanpro should be free but not taxed as a luxury item and freely avislsble by those most in need whether on e streets, in prisons, or overseas. See my post!

Of course domestic violence is a crime but societal reasons are behind it too, the objectification/centuries old suppression of women allows it to continue into the 21st century behind those close doors. So up to us all, e media etc to take notice.

Movingonmymind Thu 07-Jan-16 12:54:19

That is in the Uk, Sanpro should not be taxed. In an ideal world would be free but never going to happen.

Having lived years in developing countries I have seen first hand how teenage girls drop out of education in vast numbers or miss so much school that they fall too behind to graduate and get a decent job. In these countries where poverty is acute, I think it should be free to a certain targeted part of those communities, espy ally teen girls in rural areas so that they don't drop out of school early, go on to have kids selves and thus the cycle perpetuates down the generations. Shocking!

BungoWomble Fri 08-Jan-16 14:17:55

2016 has started with New Year attacks on women across Europe. So I'd start with a wish for an international response, in Britain and throughout Europe, that women should enjoy exactly the same freedom to move around as men without having to fear bodily assault and without idiots in positions of power proclaiming that it's our responsibility to better protect ourselves. Also that we have exactly the same right as men to police protection.

Movingonmymind Sat 09-Jan-16 09:49:35

That's a good point, it was so shocking what happened. I think the response in Germany & Scandinavia where they're bringing in classes for new immigrants on values. equality and how women should be treated. Be quite hard to enforce but needs to be more than simple police protection. Need to adjust the mindsets of all these young men ignorant probably of the values of the countries to which they travel.

BungoWomble Sat 09-Jan-16 13:05:00

Yes, I'm thinking along those lines. If we must take a hugely skewed demographic of young single men in from highly misogynistic culture we need an assurance that they will be made aware of our differing culture and also that our cultural norms will be enforced.

In connection it is extremely worrying that the first response of local police, media, and our own representatives and fellow citizens in the UK has been to ignore, minimise, tell us we are racists for pointing out that there are problems, and then tell us it is women's responsibility to avoid men.

That has to stop. Right now.

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