News and editorial

Sex in the Census

With a month to go until the census on March 21, 15 organisations including LWD have launched the Sex in the Census campaign to protest against the last-minute decision by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) not to ask people to answer accurately with their biological sex.
The Sex in the Census campaign is not a boycott of the census but asks people to request a paper copy of the census and return it with a letter that will ask the ONS to confirm that they will only record the respondent’s sex as “sex registered at birth”.
The group is calling for the mandatory sex question to clearly and accurately count men and women based on sex.
Please visit this new joint website and help us highlight this last minute cave-in by the ONS. read more

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We stand with Kiri

Kiri Tunks is a teacher, socialist, internationalist, co-founder of Woman’s Place UK and a founder signatory of Labour Women’s Declaration. In January 2021, Kiri was invited to speak at a Labour Party ward meeting to mark International Women’s Day. She was asked to speak about challenging sexism in education and wider society. This week she was told that her invitation to speak had been rescinded because of her connection to Woman’s Place UK.

On 17th February, she wrote an open letter (published below) which she sent to the ward chair, asking for it to be circulated to all members of the ward. She also sent it to the local MP, representatives on the regional executive and senior figures within the parliamentary Labour Party including the shadow minister for women & equalities and the general secretary of the party. She indicated to all her intention to make the letter public but has requested that we do not identify the ward. read more

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Toilet provision: consultation response

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government launched a consultation over toilet provision for men and women. This is Labour Women’s Declaration’s response:

1. The key points in the call for evidence

“[T]here needs to be proper provision of gender-specific toilets for both men and women, with a clear steer in building standards guidance” We would be in full agreement with this statement if the word ‘sex’ were used rather than ‘gender’, as this term is undefined and generally conflated with ‘gender identity’, the claimed non-observable, non-testable, sense of being a man or woman despite one’s biology indicating otherwise. ‘Sex’ is the protected characteristic, and we want to see single-sex provision as a matter of right.
“The Equality Act provides that sex, age, disability and gender reassignment are protected characteristics. This does not mean that gender-specific toilets should be replaced with gender-neutral toilets. But there should be balanced consideration of how the needs of all those with protected characteristics should be considered, based on the mix of the population and customer demand.” We could not agree more with this statement and regard it as key to the provision of facilities in a respectful and considerate manner. read more

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No-platforming and the so-called Left: a speech by Esther Giles

Esther Giles, who was due to appear at last weekend’s Labour Lockout event but was no-platformed, spoke today at Labour Against the Witchhunt’s Building the Campaign for Free Speech event. This is the text of her speech:

No-Platforming and the so-called Left: The Supposed “Right of Intolerance”

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

This quote, wrongly attributed to Voltaire, was actually written by (would you believe it) a woman, Beatrice Evelyn Hall in a book published in 1906 which she wrote about Voltaire. And who, of course wrote under a pseudonym because she was a woman.  And, yes, I have met people who will not read anything written by a woman. read more

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Changing sex to gender identity in data collection

The Chief Statistician of Scotland is consulting on erasing sex as a category for data collection for all public organisations. Except in a few cases, he is proposing that ‘gender identity’ replaces sex.
As Labour Women’s Declaration, we recognise that women and girls are subject to discrimination and oppression based on their sex.
This has huge implications for the lives of women and girls. Sex is a key determinant from the day we are born as female and live out our lives. How we fare in the fields of education and work, what we are paid, what pensions we receive is influenced by our sex. Health, social care, law, transport, design of cities: there isn’t a policy area where sex can be ignored. We are witnessing a roll back in women’s rights as a result of the pandemic; with women more likely to lose their jobs, or forced into part time work to try to manage childcare and other caring responsibilities. We know there is an issue with regard to young women and girls not participating in physical activity, but difficult to see how we change that if we cease to measure the data on the basis of sex. Women experience discrimination because of how society treats us on the basis of our sex.
We cannot talk about male violence against women if we cannot disaggregate data on the basis of sex. For example, Police Scotland now collates data on the basis of self-declared gender, so we cannot be sure if crimes that are recorded as being committed by women are actually by women or by men who claim to be the gender of women. The impact on female crime statistics may already be skewed. We know, thanks to robust data collection, that women commit far few sexual violence offences than men. It will not take many men declaring themselves to be female to dramatically alter those statistics and render them meaningless.
Sex is an objective, unchanging category. People cannot change sex. It is a defining characteristic of human beings. Sex is a word that is understood universally. Sex is defined in the Equality Act 210.
There is no such clear definition proposed for ‘gender identity’. It is a subjective feeling. A feeling of being a man or a woman, but no-one can explain what those feelings are without resorting to outdated and offensive stereoytpes, where being a woman amounts to no more than liking the colour pink, being quiet and obedient. There is no evidence gender identity exists beyond a belief some people have, and equally, many of us don’t. It is more akin to the category of religion. As with religious belief, it may well be a category that the state wishes to collect information about, but no reason as to why it should replace sex.
No evidence has been presented as to why this change is being made and what benefits will accrue from erasing sex as a category. The award-winning book “Invisible Women” by Caroline Criado-Perez highlighted the myriad of ways women are discriminated against. We face more risk of death in a car crash as seatbelts are designed with the average man’s body in mind, safety wear doesn’t fit as it designed for male bodies. Medical trials are conducted with men, so we don’t know what effect new procedures or drugs will have on women.
When we have the evidence that not collecting data on the basis of sex has such huge effects on women it is utterly incomprehensible that the proposal is now to get rid of the category altogether.
We ask that the Scottish Government abides by the Eurostat guidelines regarding data collection, which states that sex is a vital category. Without this, we will not be able to do any comparable studies with other European states.
There is no evidence from researchers, data users or the public that the erosion of sex as a category is desirable. There is no impact assessment on what impact the erosion of sex will have on future data collection. No women’s groups were consulted on the proposed change.
Every elected member should be receiving a copy of The Political Erasure of Sex by Lucy Mackenzie and Jane Clare Jones which is ”an overarching project which aims to document the process of policy capture in our public institutions, and how it is impacting the recognition and recording of biological sex in public policy, law, language, and data-collection.” We hope you will take time to read it.
We ask that you:
1) Support the retention of sex as a category in all data collection, including the census in 2022.
2) Any changes are subject to impact assessments
3) Any consultation on change is open and wide ranging and includes women as key stakeholders read more

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#SixWords-For the word ‘person’ substitute ‘woman’

pregnancy & maternity rights
#SixWords – For the word ‘person’ substitute ‘woman’

Call to Action

#SixWords – For the word ‘person’ substitute ‘woman’. “Giving birth is not like chairing a meeting. It cannot be done by a person of either sex.”

It is beyond belief that it has taken governments 103 years to notice women in government may have babies. We are very pleased to see long overdue recognition of this fact in the Maternity Bill to be debated in the Commons this Thursday, 11th February 2020.

But it is unacceptable that the bill talks of ‘pregnant people’ and makes no mention of women at all. This is not a situation that will ever apply to male ministers, so why the obfuscation of language? Nor is it inclusive of those who might be adopting children – adopters are not included in the phrase ‘pregnant people’. read more

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