Take action on women’s rights

Authors: Kate Savin, Liam Clifford, Jece Shunmugam
  • Posted on: March 16, 2021

Read on for a handpicked selection of the good, the bad, and the one to watch in the world of social impact communications. This week, we’re highlighting safer public spaces for women, increasing police powers, calls for misogyny to finally be a hate crime.

| NAILED IT: UN Women UK seeks to make public spaces safe for women

In the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s abduction and murder, UN Women UK’s Safe Spaces Now campaign couldn’t have come at a better time. Launched on 10 March, it’s coincided with thousands of women sharing their dangerous experiences of walking alone online. This isn’t just a Twitterstorm – according to research conducted by YouGov on behalf of UN Women, over 70% of women in the UK have been sexually harassed in a public space.

The organisation is inviting women to add their voice to a survey that will be submitted to the Home Secretary’s enquiry on violence against women, which has just reopened. Ultimately, their aim is to use this data to work with the government, local councils and public service providers to redesign public spaces so that women can walk alone, in the dark, safely. 

| ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT:  Controversy swirls around anti-protest bill

A proposed new law introduced to the Commons last week — the so-called ‘Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’ — is facing fierce backlash from the public.

Under the new bill, the police would be granted further sweeping powers to take control of peaceful protests — including mandating start and finish times, and intervening when an event has an ill-defined “relevant impact on persons in the vicinity”. It would also give Home Secretary Priti Patel the ability to define “serious disruption” to communities completely without parliamentary approval.

The move is quickly being dismissed by critics as being a further clampdown on the right to protest by a hostile Tory government — using COVID-19 as a smokescreen to push through ever more restrictions. Opposition has only grown in the wake of the abysmal handling of the Sarah Everard vigils this weekend. The Met’s chief, Cressida Dick, has since doubled-down.

No government should be taking advantage of the pandemic as a way to push through oppressive laws that will impact freedom of speech for years to come. To help prevent the bill from becoming law, write to your MP with this email template (credit to Sarah Motaghian (@saramotaghian) and Anuradha Damale (@anulikesstars)). You can also sign and share Netpol’s petition demanding the Government drop the bill and improve.

| ONE TO WATCH: Make misogyny a hate crime

Calls to make misogyny a hate crime through an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill have escalated in the past week. Campaigners argue that the amendment would send a clear message that women should be able to live freely, without fear of being harassed, assaulted or abused.

Support has snowballed following the death of Sarah Everard coupled with the release of two reports by the UN and WHO last week, which found that 97% of women in the UK, aged between 18-24, have experienced sexual harassment and that globally 1 in 3 women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. 

The Labour Party are now urging for cross-party support for the amendment which would mean police logging records of incidences of hostility towards women and girls and prosecuting those who commit the incidents. This would protect women by essentially tracking, detecting and preventing crimes, whilst also seeing increased sentences for stalkers and rapists. 

You can write to your MP using the Fawcett Society’s template here, encouraging them to support amendment 87B to the Domestic Abuse Bill.