It has been suggested that various cuts by central government and local governments have been disproportionately affecting women more than men. Part of this has been due to the fact that more women work in the public sector than men. Another piece of this is down to public services being cut, which women tend to rely on more than men.
Take for instance the cuts to adult social care that happened several years ago in Cornwall, which the Council are now only increasing the budget for again. Hopefully the Council will keep on top of the increasing adult care needs that the county will inevitably have, but these cuts a few years back were not helpful for the legion of women in Cornwall who often care for elderly or disabled relatives on top of looking after their own children and holding down a job.
Closer to the present day and proposed cuts by Cornwall Council to public transport and public toilets will again affect women more than men. When it comes to bus usage, you’ll tend to find that women uses buses more than men, mainly because a) older generations of women are less likely to have learned how to drive and b) women often have less finances than men so learning to drive and running a car can be impractical financially.
And with the proposal to close 114 public toilets around the county, again I suspect that this will impact on women more than men. Just for a moment, forget about the impact this will have on the local tourism industry and just think about the needs of women. Many women, due to child birth and/or age, suffer from levels of incontinence that mean that being able to find a public toilet whilst out and about on daily activities is very important. It’s not nice for these women to be “caught short”.
Yet, because incontinence figures are hard to gather, because women are embarrassed to talk about it to GPs, we don’t have accurate figures that show how many women suffer with the condition in the county. However, I would say that anecdotal evidence would suggest at least half of the women who have given birth and live in Cornwall probably do have problems with incontinence.
To me, these cuts to services are impacting on women more than men and I find it particularly galling that Cornwall Council is quite happy to put money towards consulting on things such as the “Stadium for Cornwall“. A stadium which, if built, isn’t really going to have a positive impact on women’s lives in the county in the same way that good access to public transport and public toilets will.
And don’t get me started on the cuts to funding the Council did to charitable organisations such as a women’s refuge. Yes, I also understand that the cuts will impact on the lives of men as well, but my point is that women use publicly run services more than men, yet are more financially vulnerable than men and so less able to address the issues themselves.