14th February 2024

Racism is embedded deeply into the fabric of British society.

Combined with misogyny, it means that women of colour in the UK face a double penalty of discrimination. Women of Bangladeshi heritage earn on average 28.4% less than white men, and women of Pakistani heritage earn on average 25.9% less than white men. There’s no question that we need change.  

Fawcett strongly believes that we need to address racism if we are to achieve our vision of ensuring that women of every background, at any stage of life are celebrated, respected and safe, and are free to make their own choices. We have long campaigned on issues at the intersection of racism and misogyny. In 2018, we conducted our Sex Discrimination Law Review, we have researched the pay and progression of women of colour in our report Broken Ladders, we’ve published on the Ethnicity Motherhood Pay Penalty, and we are currently looking at the institutional harms caused to women and girls across public services, with a particular focus on the experiences of Black women.

In doing so, we have been privileged to campaign alongside partners including Runnymede Trust, the #EthnicityPayGap campaign, and Black Equity Organisation.

We are delighted that Labour have announced their plans for a Race Equality Act should they form the next government. Their proposed Act contains many proposals that Fawcett has campaigned on, including: 

  • Enacting protections in the Equality Act for ‘dual discrimination’ so women can bring discrimination cases against employers on the basis of sex and race, or sex and age.
  • Requiring large employers to publish ethnicity and disability pay gap reports. 
  • Requiring police force to take significant steps to be anti-racist, including taking action on the recruitment, retention and progression of Black and Asian people in policing, overhauling training and misconduct procedures, and establishing a strategy for policing hate crime online.
  • Ensuring teacher training includes addressing racial stereotypes.
  • Enacting Section 106 of the Equality Act so that all political parties are required to publish the diversity of their candidates for elections to Westminster, Holyrood and the Senedd annually and anonymously.  
  • Enacting the socio-economic duty in the Equality Act to prioritise the elimination of socio-economic inequality in government and the public sector, requiring public bodies to give “due regard” to exercising their functions in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage.  

Jemima Olchawski, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, said: 

“Labour’s announcement demonstrates that they have heard calls from campaigners that the UK needs to take proactive steps to address structural racism. We are delighted that they have listened to our calls for ethnicity pay gap reporting, as well as enacting ‘dual discrimination’ in the Equalities Act, both of which should help to end the scandal of women from some ethnic backgrounds earning on average over 25% less than white men.  

We now need all political parties to commit to taking bold measures to reverse inequalities across society, including the ambitious and critical work required to reimagine public services free from racism and misogyny.”  

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