Feminist Friday – Money Matters

Each week the Fawcett team will be scouring the media and blogosphere to bring you our top essential feminist posts from the past 7 days – the good, the bad and the ugly…


This week saw Equal Pay Day, the day that women effectively stop earning relative to men, fall on Tuesday – three days earlier than last year. The gender pay gap in the UK has grown to a shocking 16% for full-time employees (and an even more outrageous 19% when you include part-time workers in the figure). With this in mind, this week’s Feminist Friday is dealing with money matters.

Kicking off with our very own Eva Neitzert for The Independent, Eva gives an overview of everything you need to know about equal pay in 2014. And it’s clearly an issue that crosses the political spectrum: The Telegraph and The Morning Star were talking about it too.

Moving on from Equal Pay Day specifically, we loved Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett’s article on the ‘woman tax’ – the higher price tag lumped on products such as shampoos, deodorants and razors targeted at women (not to mention services like dry-cleaning and hair dressing) compared to similar cheaper products and services aimed at men. And we were delighted to read that a feminist campaign in France has resulted in the French government agreeing to investigate these price discrepancies. Major thanks to Rhiannon for inspiring a sweet Friday day-dream of a ‘woman tax’ rebate…

“All of those little things that you are expected to do – tweezing your monobrow, tinting your eyelashes, maintaining your weave, shaving your legs, concealing your blackheads, bleaching your moustache, managing camel toe – were all tax-deductible expenses. You’d be getting one big windfall, possibly a deposit on a house. And let’s not forget tights, which seem to have a built-in obsolescence of about 25 minutes. If men wore tights they would be made of spider’s silk as strong as steel and would not end up taking on the appearance of flaccid condoms as they make their way towards your ankles just because you need to walk to the bus stop. “You can go to space in these tights!” the adverts would say.”

But returning to the much harsher realities of why this ‘woman tax’ is so unfair: women not only are paying more for the same products, and are told that they need to buy more of these products, but at the same time are much more likely to be paid less than enough money to live on. Yvonne Roberts wrote about Living Wage Week (which alongside Equal Pay Day was also this week) and, like Fawcett’s research highlighted earlier in the year, demonstrated just how much of a gendered issue low pay really is: 16% of men earn less than the Living Wage while a whopping 26% of women do.

If this level of unequal pay makes you angry, then you’ll share some common ground with trade union activist Becki Winison, in her blog for the TUC’s young members network. Like us, Becki can’t believe that as young feminists, we’re still fighting the same battle that was being fought by women in the sixties – like the amazing women on the strikes at Dagenham, that led to the introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

The equal pay legislation we have today isn’t currently being used in its entirety – and the instatement of a small clause which already exists – section 78 of the Equality Act to be precise, which would require all large employers to publish their gender pay stats – would be a good first step in reducing the gender pay gap, and achieving real equal pay.

So if, after reading all of this, you want to do something about equal pay, Grazia have made it really easy to email your MP and tell them to act (and get behind the implementation of section 78), NOW.


As ever we want to hear your views on the news this week… What do you think about the ‘woman tax’? And what should we do to address it? 

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