The EU Referendum Gender Equality Challenge

Raise your game – put women centre stage or prepare to lose!

– New poll finds 37% of women feel campaigns have been male dominated –

The UK’s leading gender equality charity, the Fawcett Society has today joined forces with Women’s Aid and the Young Women’s Trust to issue a Gender Equality Challenge to both sides of the EU Referendum campaigns.  Fawcett warn that the campaigns are still struggling to engage women and need to “raise their game and put women centre stage” as the campaign enters its final week.

The warning comes as the Fawcett Society is preparing to hold its second debate on the EU Referendum on Friday 17th June and as it releases new ICM poll results. The findings show that:

Women are significantly more likely to see the campaigns as ‘male dominated’ with 37% of women compared to 25% of men agreeing that both sides of the EU debate have been dominated by men. 27% of men and 15% of women disagree. Women and men aged 25-34 were more likely than other age groups to agree with this statement.

Women are significantly less likely to say they feel informed enough to make a decision with 56% of women compared with 64% of men agreeing. This is despite the fact that they are more likely to say the campaigns have been ‘interesting’. Older women are significantly more likely than younger women to say they feel informed enough but for most age groups, men are consistently more likely than women to say they feel informed enough.

The Remain campaign is performing less well than the Leave campaign in terms of ‘addressing the issues they personally are concerned about’. 28% of women and 32% of men agree that the Remain campaign has addressed issues that they personally are concerned about. 36% of men and 29% of women disagree.

Women are significantly more likely to respond ‘don’t know’ to this statement 18% for women vs 8% for men. Younger women are the ones most likely to respond ‘don’t know’ with 30% of 18-24 year olds.  Young men are more certain with just 5% of 18-24 year old men saying they don’t know.

The Leave campaign is performing more strongly with 36% of women and 38% of men agreeing that the Leave campaign has addressed issues that they personally are concerned about. This is an improvement on the performance of the Leave campaign with women – when this question was first asked in April it scored just 25% with women.  But still 1 in 4 (25%) people neither agree nor disagree.

Commenting, Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said:

“Just 1 in 10 of the politicians we are seeing on our TV screens and in the press has been women[i].  This male-dominated campaign is failing to cut through.  If they want to win the campaigns need to raise their game and put women centre-stage.

“Women want to make an informed decision but the campaigns are not giving them the information they need. There are potentially 1 million more women than men voting in this election.  But you would never know that from the way this campaign is being run.”

The Gender Equality Challenge asks the campaigns to:

  • Put women front and centre. Make them the prominent voices of their campaign.
  • Commit to maintaining existing progress on gender equality, particularly employment protections for women in work and co-operation across the EU to end violence against women and girls.
  • Set out their vision for what the future for women and gender equality would look like if they win the EU Referendum.

Fawcett is this Friday hosting a free referendum debate on Friday 17th June at Linklaters at 6pm where Laura Byrne and Jennifer Bottomley from ICM will be discussing their research in greater detail.

The Gender Equality Challenge itself can be found here, and the full press release for the Gender Equality Challenge can be found here.

The ICM data tables underpinning Fawcett’s research and the Gender Equality Challenge can be found on ICM’s website.



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