Pay and violence head FI manifesto

Unfair differences in pay between men and women is the leading priority in the Feminist Initiative's (FI) election manifesto. Companies which operate discriminatory pay policies should be prevented from operating, according to the FI.

The state should correct the imbalance in pay between men and women, the FI believes. The adjustments would be based on a national work evaluation conducted by a specially appointed committee, which would develop pay models for both the public and private sectors. There will be no assumption that industry should have higher rates of pay.

“We don’t advocate a national pay policy where parliament make decisions about everybody’s pay. But the state must intervene when discrimination takes place,” explained FI’s spokesperson, Gudrun Schyman, when the manifesto was launched at the parliament on Thursday.

Adjustments in pay will be made following the models recommended by the evaluation committee. Companies which don’t comply will ultimately have their registration withdrawn, according to FI.

The other main issue in the FI’s election manifesto is men’s violence against women. The FI bases its policies on research which shows that one in four women are the victims of male violence at some time in their life. The state and local councils must take responsibility and help women and children exposed to men’s violence. The social services act must be amended to force councils to provide women’s shelters. Currently the wording is that councils “ought” to provide them. FI are also seeking a change in the rape law, so that lack of consent constitutes a crime.

A third issue in the manifesto is the demand for individualised parental pay. Women currently claim 83% of parental leave, something which also affects their jobs and pay.

“When an employer considers taking on a young woman, he sees a potential child bearer. When he considers a young man, he sees a potential careerist. I believe the parental insurance system is the issue with most potential for changing the employment market,” said Gudrun Schyman.

The manifesto also emphasises the demand for a world free from all forms of discrimination and for developing society from women’s perspective. FI claims that all sectors involved with social planning are dominated by men.

From having the support of almost 25% of voters at the time of their launch, the FI barely register now in opinion polls. The question is how that picture can change in the six months leading up to the general election.

“You could describe the situation as desperate, but this is really the kick off. We’ve now presented our policies. And if you listen to the other parties, these issues are conspicuous by their absence,” said Schyman.