Updated: May 30, 2019
To ask the committee to congratulate Feisty Women on becoming a Scottish charity (SC049016) set up and headquartered here in Dundee to advance equality and economic justice for women over the age of 60 and to call once more for the UK Government to make fair transitional arrangements for fifties-born women who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the state pension age with lack of appropriate notification.
In Dundee alone 8,300 women are affected. Across Scotland the figure is over 250,000 and in the UK it’s over 3.4 million.
Feisty Women is politically neutral and welcomes membership and support from all groups and a broad range of opinion formers and influencers.
Many women born in the fifties face financial hardship, which also impacts our wider families, because of age discrimination and a lifetime of sex discrimination.
Our lives have been characterised by financial disadvantage. Many of us went out to work on a larger scale than ever before but we also shouldered a disproportionate share of domestic work and unpaid caring duties. We were pioneers in our attempts to combine motherhood and paid work. This ‘double burden’ came at a cost to our health and economic well-being.
Councillors may remember a notion put forward to committee in 2017 by Councillors Short and McDonald at that time calling for the UK Government to make fair transitional pension arrangements for women who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the state pension age with lack of appropriate notification.
I set up a local branch of the national group WASPI to campaign for over 8000 women in Dundee alone affected by these changes.
Since undertaking further detailed research, and due to changing circumstances in the directorship of WASPI, myself and others felt we wanted to explore a different route to justice than the one of maladministration which the WASPI campaign is fighting its case on and indeed the Judicial Review which was called for and granted to another campaigning group known as Backto60.
Feisty Women plans, in our first full year of operation, to test the effectiveness of equalities legislation by reviewing and gathering data that illustrates the reality of discrimination faced by older women. We will also commission research where we find knowledge gaps. We will test the effectiveness of equalities legislation for ordinary women by challenging the legality of decisions about state pension age and we will assess and document our progress through the legal system with the aim of making recommendations about the improvement of equalities legislation, regardless of outcome.
The impact on our working lives has been stark – and has meant:
Poorer paid, part-time jobs
Fragmented working lives, limited opportunity to fulfil our true potential
Little opportunity to pay into occupational pension schemes
Discrimination in the workplace where often men were paid more than women
A segregated labour market where women were persuaded by circumstance into lower paying jobs
The impact on our health is also quantifiable vis a vis:
Long hours of intense work detrimental to our physical and mental health
Higher rates of disability compared to men the same age
Less healthy life expectancy than men the same age
Life expectancy for women is now 75.7 years compared to 76.1 years for men
Our life expectancy is dropping. In the life expectancy league tables for the 20 richest countries, life expectancy for UK women is at the bottom
50% of us will suffer dementia, stroke or Parkinson’s disease, compared to 30% of men
The impact on our economic well-being can also be evidenced:
In our life-times, on average, we will earn £300,000 less than men the same age
We will receive £29,000 less pension than men in our life-time, according to data from the Department of Work and Pensions
We will lose on average £45,000 each compared to £4,000 for men the same age because of changes to state pension age
We will pay for £20bn of austerity savings from the 2011 Pension Reform Act, compared to £10bn paid by men, according to the UK Government’s own data
Those of us who have occupational pensions will reach retirement with pension pots worth 47% less than men
Thanking the committee for its attention in this matter. I intend to report back with progress on the matter at regular intervals.