As the Chancellor George Osborne introduces his pre-budget statement tomorrow (29/11/11), activists from UK Feminista will stage a creative protest outside Parliament to highlight how the government’s cuts are shredding women’s rights. A protestor dressed as Scrooge and wearing a George Osborne mask will be ‘visited’ by the ghosts of women’s economic past, present and future, while activists sing alternative Christmas carols, with lyrics highlighting the impact of the cuts on women’s lives.

The Government’s austerity agenda is disproportionately affecting women. It is women who are experiencing the majority of public sector job losses and who are more reliant on the benefits and public services being cut. As a result, support among women for the Conservative party has been plummeting.

The ghost of women’s past visiting George Osborne at the protest will be wearing rubber gloves and bearing chains to illustrate how the cuts are turning back the clock and forcing women out of the workplace and ‘back into the kitchen’, while the ghost of women’s present will represent a victim of domestic violence unable to secure a place in a refuge due to legal aid cuts (4). The ghost of women’s future will wear a long, black hooded robe to warn of the destruction of women’s economic security.

Kat Banyard, Director of UK Feminista, said:
“The Chancellor’s programme of cuts is slashing women’s economic independence. They are experiencing the bulk of public sector job losses and cuts to benefits and services. No amount of spin can hide the fact that this Government’s austerity agenda spells disaster for women. Women can see what’s happening, and they won’t put up with it.

“The Government needs to bring in emergency measures to stop the shredding of women’s hard won rights, like ring-fencing funding for SureStart centres and preventing local authorities from cutting services for victims of violence against women. Without these, the message being sent by the Chancellor this winter amounts to: “Women’s equality? Bah! Humbug!”