When the coalition government came together (also with lots of new MP's) there was some hope that the prospects for equality for men would improve after 13 years of a proudly anti-male Labour government with Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman, proudly proclaiming her anti-male credentials.
When the coalition government came to power, there were a number of positive things it outlined. Family law reform (still pending), anonymity for rape defendants unless found guilty and a commitment not to implement the controversial 'positive' discrimination sections of the Equality Act specifically designed to undermine the employment chances of men. Plus there was a general feeling that there would no longer be the harsh anti-male tone of the previous Government.
There were still troubling issues such as the fact that there was again a Minister for Women but no Minister for Men (how can a government state it believes in equality and have a Minister for one gender and not for the other, if it has to them at all). It also talked about equality in the boardroom (now going ahead), continuing with pension age discrimination and also nothing on men's health or education.
So what has happened, well its worse than we feared:
(1) The government performed a heinous u-turn on anonymity for rape defendants.
(2) The controversial section (section 159) of the Equality Act was implemented (on the link see latest news on 2nd December 2010) and hidden in the small print on its announcement on its Equality Strategy (see 8 below). This pernicious part of the Act was substantially covered on this site (1 and 2 ) and the u-tunr was covered in the Telegraph, Daily Mail, Metro, Daily Telegraph 2, Daily Telegraph 3
(3) Still no Minister for Men
(4) The government adopted the End Violence against Women & Girls strategy which has meant that male victims of rape and domestic abuse do not feature in government, police or local authority plans in tackling rape or domestic abuse. The outcome can be seen by the way the government handled its trials on 'stop' orders which were framed at female victims (thereby setting the tone for the way the police will handle the issue) or its Christmas campaign. For an example of how it percolates through the system, see a response the ManKind Initiative recently received from the Equalities Commission.
(5) Its continuing and deliberate misinterpretation of the gender pay gap, even though we now know younger women earn more than younger men. Plus resurrecting the issue that there are not enough women in the boardroom (1 and 2) and stating it has an aspiration to ensure 50% of appointees to public bodies are female.
Lord Mervyn Davies who is leading the taskforce looking at the female make up of boardroom has already declared "let's put women first for 2011". I kid you not. With this and the Equality Act, men are being shut out, make no mistake. Academies for female executives, board internships and now the 30% club.
Equality should mean the best people, now basing people on their gender but that is now what is happening and in many circumstances men (and of course that means their wife/partner or daughter as well) will lose out because good men will be held back to allow a woman with less skill to take their place. How can this be equality, gender is irrelevant.
Can Lord Mervyn Davies hand on heart say that a black boy from a run-down council estate attending a sink school has more chance of being on a board of a FTSE-100 company that a white girl living in Knightsbridge and going to a private school. Davies thinks so.
(7) No one in Parliament (including the 232 new MP's - 35% of the total) and certainly no one in the Government is standing up for men and men's issues. It means the anti-male feminists in all parties are again riding roughshod over the true meaning of equality and doing all the can to marginalise men.
(8) And finally - the coup de grace - the government's shiny new Equality Strategy - Building a Fairer Britain. At no stage (except fleetingly on Caribean boys) does it ever mention men and boys or the isuses facing them. None of them in this post are ever mentioned. Nothing on education, higher rates of unemployment, health, suicide - just example after example on issues affecting women.
The Equality Strategy published this month, makes it completley clear - this governement is no better and no more interested than the last in tackling issues that affect men & boys (and consequently their mothers, sisters, daughters and wives/partners/girlfriends).
It actually wants to make things worse not just by the overt discrimination (see 1, 2,3,4 and 5 above) but the covert discrimination of discrimination by omission. And with Parliamentary terms lasting five years now, we have over four years of this to go.
There have been a few advances, equality of pesnion age, a family review still pending (who know what the result will be) and Mirko Fischer's BA win. Plus some organisations seem to be pushing more and more (Men's Network, ManKind Initiative, Prostate Cancer Society, Families Need Fathers, Parity, False Allegations Support Organisation, Men's Health Forum amongst others) and they will need to be encouraged by us all to continue.
However, looking back, the hopes at the beginning of the year have proved unfounded and it is clear that things have got worse in 2010 for men and boys.
Posted by Skimmington