Women: still not equal

feminism.jpgThe married womens’ rate of national insurance was abolished in May 1977 but the repercussions of that archaic legislation is still felt by thousands of women. National insurance in relation to women was based on usually the breadwinner in a marriage, the man.

A woman’s employment was secondary and more likely seen as earning “pin money”.

Women could choose to pay the full national insurance rate and “married woman’s stamp”. If women opted to pay less then they would save on a couple of quid but it would impact on their later pension. It would be assumed that the married woman would rely on her husband’s pension.

This lack of a full state pension is affecting women hitting retirement age now. Even when it was abolished in 1977, women still could continue to pay the lower rate of NI.

Age Concern, argue that women were given bad advice from employers and from the Pension Service. The government has no plans to rectify this inequality. The Lords overwhelmingly voted to amend the Pensions Act 2007 to allow some women to buy back into the full NI scheme. It would cost the government £30million a year, a drop in the financial ocean to rescue women from the potential grip of poverty.

Women are still not full independent equal human beings to men. The Equal Pay Act was over thirty years ago yet women are still paid less then men and it is a scandal that married women are still seen in terms of their husbands.These women face a double whammy as they were paid a fraction of what men earned during the post-war years and now many don’t have money in their own right instead are appendages of their husbands. And some women will have to rely on means tested benefits.The pensions scandal exposes an entrenched form of sexism from the 1940s still reverberating in 2008.

6 comments on “Women: still not equal

  1. babeuf on said:

    Excellent article, Louise, thanks. I must confess my ignorance and say that I hadn’t come across any of this before. Can you tell us if it has been taken up yet in any campaign? I’ll be asking RR to include it in any literature/policy statements on pensions and women’s rights.

  2. Thanks comrade.

    I know Age Concern are taking this up and so should the trade union movement. I will look into what the TU movement is doing (if anything).

  3. Are there any indications as to how many women are likely to be caught in this trap?
    I believe socialists/progressives should argue for a full remittance. 30 million quid / yr is a reconciliation error on an oil company’s expense report…

    Thanks for an excellent piece!

  4. Thanks Battersea Power Station, Age Concern reckons it is tens of thousands of women, in their 50s and 60s. And there are some still in their mid to late 40s.

    The government should be doing something concrete to support these women but Mike O’Brien, Pensions minister said no changes would be made….

    Many TUs usually have retired members sections (and for the whole TU movement). I wonder what they are saying and also it is something the TUC should be very concerned about and challenging NL over.

  5. Tawfiq Chahboune on said:

    As well as being quite disgraceful (nothing new there), this is absolutely amazing. Thanks for bringing it up, Louise. Presumably there are many more instances of macho-style laws with respect to women? And I don’t mean it in the “It’s a man’s world” sort of way. Yes, men still have far too much power but even with that proviso this is just completely bizarre.