BackTo60 yesterday launched a new campaign to get the United Kingdom to implement something they should done 34 years ago – pass laws to both empower and eliminate all discrimination against women.
For 1986 is the year Margaret Thatcher decided to sign up to the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women ( acronym CEDAW) but failed to put through Parliament any laws to back it up.
This should not be a Left versus Right issue – since Thatcherites and Corbynites and anybody in between- should agree. Unless they still hold the nineteenth century view that half the nation are inferior and should not have equal rights with men.
BackTo60 decided to launch this because next week’s Court of Appeal hearing on the government’s denial to pay back the 3.8 million women born in the 1950s their pensions from 60 to 66 – also involve the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women – because there was no level playing field for women to get their pension in the first place.
This enormously broadens BackTo 60’s campaign since it involves campaigning for the rights of half the population.
The mechanism they have chosen to bring this to public attention is a People’s Tribunal – these date back to the 1960s when the Bertrand Russell Foundation – held an inquiry into the US role in the Vietnam War.
This new tribunal is expected to consist of three independent ( probably retired) judges and led by the advocate John Cooper QC. a human rights and criminal law barrister, who is regarded by the Times as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the country, and was on the tribunal that investigated atrocities in Iran.
Two other key members are Professor Jackie Jones,a former MEP for Wales and Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of West England , a leading advocate and expert on CEDAW and Hannah Manzur, a former EU Gender Policy Advisor at the European Parliament,. Here is the full statement:
John Cooper said the issue should not be controversial – ” it is like motherhood and apple pie”.
He said the tribunal should have three main goals – independence, transparency and authenticity.
” There are three main areas to investigate: Why CEDAW has never put into UK law; whether there was any good reason for not doing so, and most importantly, to make recommendations on what should happen next.”
He added that he was already having support for the idea from a number of leading figures.
Jackie Jones said on the launch: ” Enough is Enough. We have waited nearly 40 years for this. It high time this is written into law and it is really important that girls now at school should be able to reach their full potential.”
Hannah Manzur said :
“We are delighted to announce the establishment of the CEDAW People’s Tribunal which will act as a powerful tool in both pushing for progress on gender equality and shining a light on the Government’s failure to uphold its binding promise to take proactive and comprehensive steps to eliminate gender discrimination.
” Forty years after this groundbreaking international convention was signed by the Government, women and girls still face overwhelming barriers to achieving their full potential due to persistent inequality and discrimination.
“This Tribunal will collect an authoritative body of evidence and expertise which will be reviewed and deliberated on by a panel of independent judges.
” We will be working to assess the gap between the Government’s commitment to CEDAW and its record on gender equality, including its failure to transpose CEDAW into domestic law and appoint a UK CEDAW representative. It’s time for us to hold the Government to account on its duty to eliminate discrimination against women and make gender equality a reality for women and girls across the UK.”
The only thing I have to add is that I shall be backing this campaign with the same vigour I have showed in reporting and investigating the BackTo60 campaign for full restitution for the 3.8m women who lost out on the raising of the pension age.