Thousands of women in Thanet and across the country will set out of office messages today (November 10) in protest at the gender pay gap.
The action is coordinated by the Women’s Equality Party to mark equal pay day.
The average woman earns 18.5% less than the average man according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. In Thanet the pay gap is 18.7% in South Thanet and 20.9% in North Thanet.
Natasha Ransom of the East Kent Women’s Equality Party said: “Over 40 years after the Equal Pay Act came into force, we are still seeing women earning far lower wages than their male colleagues. Women are also being hit hardest by current austerity policies. The time has come to take these issues seriously.”
Though the gap has been decreasing, the rate of closure has slowed in recent years.
Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, said: “In recent weeks we have started to see the scale of women’s inequality in the harassment scandal that has engulfed politics, media and entertainment. This is down to an unequal balance of power that is both cause and effect of the pay gap.
“One of the most effective ways to end violence against women and girls is to level the playing field economically. It’s time to stop seeing economic discrimination as somehow separate from these deep societal problems.
“Our gender pay gap is another national scandal that is not well understood. We must combat the idea that women are somehow choosing to earn less. The facts are that our childcare is the most expensive in the world and forces women into unpaid care work and away from paid work. Sectors where women do work are underpaid and undervalued. And across every business, women are less likely to be promoted.”
Theresa May’s government has set a deadline for businesses with over 250 staff to report their gender pay gap by March 31, 2018. While some such as the BBC have already done so, the vast majority have not.
Today’s action will share an Out of Office awareness-raising message for women to set as their email default; and publish blogs from women with different backgrounds to highlight the pay gap. Women will also share their messages on social media using the #OutOfOffice hashtag with a humorous video to highlight the absurdity of the gap.