Brexit, and the effect on women
by Andrew R.
(I am a member of the Church living in the UK. I have a wife, six daughters, one son (on a mission) and four grandchildren. I am currently serving as stake clerk and stake Sunday School president and I work as a Database and Systems Developer.)
I have to say that when, perhaps in jest, Spunky suggested a guest post from me I was a little stunned. Firstly, I am not a feminist. I believe in women’s rights. And I certainly do not believe that women are less than men in any way shape or form. However, I have fairly formed views pertaining to my belief system in respect of generalised gender roles. Second, I am not a writer. Anyone who has read my comments on threads here knows that. I do not always get my point across in the best way, nor do I do it without ruffling feathers I didn’t intend to ruffle. That said, I was asked about submitting a post with respect to the Brexit referendum and how it might have an effect on women in the UK.
I cast my vote to remain. I spent the last two to three months of the run up to the vote at anything from 60:40 to 80:20 Remain:Leave. In my heart, as a British citizen I love my country, and what it stands for. As such to leave seemed a good option. We maintain sovereignty. However, in my head, in relation to the company I work for, and my children and grandchildren, together with the ideals of a common Europe I saw Remain as the thing to do.
I have entered into debates, mostly taking the Remain side, with members of my stake, and those I work with. I have entered those debates in the same way I enter into them here, often with similar results.
So to the topic at hand. How will Brexit affect the lives of women in the UK?
One of the things that being in the EU has given us is a bunch of legislation. Those voting to Leave see this a one of the main reasons, behind immigration, to leave the EU. “We need to take back sovereignty,” is the cry. “Brussels makes too many of our laws,” we have heard. And yet, those listening to this rhetoric, and being taken in by it, are often at the lower end of the social scale. They are in the poorer paid jobs, often voting Labour, and generally the ones benefiting from said legislation.
As great as Great Britain is, there has always been a fight between Government and the Unions for workers’ rights. Minimum wage, and now living wage, working hours directives, health and safety rules, minimum paid holiday regulation, and much more have all come as a result of EU membership and legislation. Much of that, due to the imbalance of gender pay, has benefited women – especially single women who could work fewer hours for the same pay and holiday.
I am not saying that we wouldn’t, and certainly that we couldn’t, have had those if we had been out of Europe. But I cannot be certain, and if pushed I would have to say we wouldn’t. So being in the EU, I believe, has been good for workers in general, and probably disproportionately benefited women.
Now those benefits will not go away because Great Britain voted Leave. But I don’t believe that those types of issues will be top of anyone’s agenda in the British government.
So a Brexit will probably have a significant effect on the lower paid, often women. It will certainly have an effect on those receiving benefits, again often women (abandoned by men). And it will have an effect on those Europeans who have come to the UK to work, most often as a benefit to Britain, with the hope of bettering their lives, and the lives of their families – again bringing many women out of poverty, and helping to better educate girls.
I voted Remain because I believed it was the socially responsible thing to do. I didn’t do it for women in particular. But having thought about it, because of Spunky’s request I believe women could have been the winners if we Remained, and might well be the losers because we Left.