The plight of women and structural sexism is one that as a society we are only beginning to fully overhaul, but less well-known is the particular plight of women born in the 1950s, who face the travesty of being denied their rightful pensions by a sharp rise in the state pension age from 60 years old to 66 years old with little to no notice. This is dishonourable not just because it treats the hard work and endeavours of women over a lifetime, with cruel disdain not just once with the original Major Government 1995 State Pension Law Act which put forward this ill-planned legislation aimed at equalisation of the State Pension Age for women and men, but twice with the Cameron Government’s own 2011 State Pension Law Act. This Act actually accelerated the timetable so women’s state pension age would hit 65 by 2018 and both men and women would have a retirement age of 66 by 2020, meaning some women would have to wait an extra 18 months to receive their state pension.
This is already a bad situation which penalises older women unfairly, and is symptomatic of the Conservative government’s approach to women who disproportionately suffer the consequences of austerity Britain in employment and living conditions but also older women who seem to be so disrespected that the pensions minister, Guy Opperman actually suggested rather than reform these laws that cut one of society’s most vulnerable constituency’s, affected women should just take up apprenticeships as a route to re-employment. In all seriousness, these older women many of whom are educated, have had tough working lives ad careers and are on the brink of retirement, are supposed to be sated by the “extended apprenticeship opportunities” offered by the Conservative government.
This is wrong.
Fortunately, WASPI (Women against State Pension Inequality) have been a resolute campaign group in highlighting the inadequacies of the government in providing justice for older women and have managed to engage thousands of members and acquire the support of 180 Members of Parliament. Their position for the transitional arrangement of a ‘bridging’ pension to provide an income from age 60 until State Pension Age for all women affected is fair and just, and would bring long awaited equity to the pensions of these women. A petition filed by WASPI Voice, a sub-grouping of WASPI, calling for immediate access to their state pension at a reduced rate and earlier, was able to receive over 20,000 signatures in support and necessitated a response from government outlining the somewhat baffling position that “Working longer can improve and maintain physical and mental health – evidence shows that making adjustments and changing working patterns can help older workers to manage health issues and stay in work,”
A society where one can work their whole lives and never receive requital is unfair and as much as the Conservative government believes sexism and inequality is either non-existent or justifiable, the WASPI campaign and that of their prominent supporters in parliament such as Mhairi Black, Graham Jones, Keith Simpson and Paul Flynn will bring justice to those being denied it.