State Pension 

MPs told pension age changes are discriminatory

MPs told pension age changes are discriminatory

An academic representing a campaign group against the increase of state pension age for women has made a submission to House of Commons Women and Equalities committee, claiming the current UK law is discriminatory.

The committee launched an inquiry into the Equality Act 2010 in July, aiming to understand what more needs to be done to achieve widespread compliance with this legislation for all those with rights under it.

Jackie Jones, professor of feminist legal studies at the University of the West England, said in her submission that the UK Equality Act 2010 is discriminatory for women, since the government hasn't incorporate a United Nations convention in it.

In the document, Ms Jones argued the UK legislation "is limited, needs reform and does not and cannot address many inequalities, especially intersectional inequalities".

As an example, she highlights the Amicus Brief she submitted to a judicial review brought by BackTo60, a group supporting women affected by state pension age increases, which is seeking to force the government to reverse its decision.

She wrote: "In general terms, the mechanisms chosen and their consequent negative impact on women born in the 50s breach the UK’s international law obligations."

This was under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), according to Ms Jones.

Described as an international bill of rights for women, the international treaty was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly, instituted in 1981, and ratified by 189 states.

Ms Jones said the mechanisms used by the government and their impact constituted "discrimination against women and a failure on the part of the state to the advance women’s position in society as well as a state failure to implement substantive and/or transformative equality".

In her submission to the MPs inquiry, Ms Jones argued that the UK government "steadfastly refuses to incorporate CEDAW into the Equalities Act 2010, or pass a separate act, that would provide women with the rights and fundamental freedoms the UK pledged on the world stage to adhere to over 30 years ago".

In its response to the CEDAW Committee periodic report in November, the UK government explained why it considers the Equality Act 2010 shouldn't incorporate all the provisions of the convention.

"This would make it disproportionate in terms of gender, giving women more rights than others, for example disabled people or people from different [Black, Asian and minority ethnic] BAME groups," it said.

UK officials argued that transposing it to law "would undermine the rationale for legislation," since the goal of the Equalities Act is to prevent "discrimination on the grounds of a number of protected characteristics equitably and without creating a hierarchy of equality".

Ms Jones argued that this argument "denies the obvious point that women are in the majority, disabled, from the black, Asian, and minority ethnic (Bame) communities, are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), are older, etc."

She said: "Passing legislation that deals with the historic inequalities of women would therefore help alleviate inequalities with the other protected characteristics as well."