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Greetings on International Women's Day

Thu 08 Mar 2012

Marisa Howes writes in celebration of women's achievements in the NHS, in the UK and throughout the world

The NHS is the largest employer in Europe and the largest employer of women in the UK. Over 78% of the NHS workforce is female, but women make up just 60% of senior managers. The number of women chief executives in the NHS is falling, and likely to fall further as the restructuring takes its toll on PCTs. So on International Women’s Day let’s remember the great strides we have made in achivieng a better deal for women working in and using the NHS. And let's make sure we don't let those gains slip away as the squeeze on budgets really starts to bite.

Those gains have been made through working in partnership to revise the terms and conditions of service in the NHS - eliminating discrimination against part time workers, improving maternity rights, promoting flexible working opportunities to improve work-life balance.

Partnership working also produced Agenda for Change - a new pay structure with equal pay for work of equal value at its core. Of course it is not perfect, but it is a great achievement which must be built on, not destroyed or left to wither on the vine. So on this International Women's Day let's reaffirm our commitment to promoting equal pay and challenging discrimination.

On International Women's Day we also celebrate the strength of women around the world. For information about the history of International Women's Day and events happening around the world, visit the International Women's Day website 

And in case you might be thinking we've already done that here in the UK, here are some key facts about women in the UK in 2011:

  • the gap between full time men and women’s hourly rates of pay is 12.2 per cent;
  • the gap where part time employees are included is 22.0 per cent
  • the employment rate for ethnic minority females is 49.8 per cent, significantly lower than white females at 67.5 per cent. Pakistani and Bangladeshi women have the lowest employment rate of all ethnic groups at 26.5 per cent.
  • women are still the primary carers of children and make up around 90 per cent of lone parents
  • sixty-two per cent of fathers think that fathers should spend more time caring for their children
  • Each year around 1.2 million women suffer domestic violence. Around one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, often accompanied by years of psychological abuse

This and other information about the current status of women in the UK is available from the Government Equalities Office.

So greetings to all on International Women's Day. But remember we want equality for life, not just for today!

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