MPs and charities say the views and experiences of women of colour are largely hidden when it comes to public services and policymaking.
A new report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sex Equality, supported by Young Women’s Trust and the Fawcett Society, shows that black and ethnic minority women are overlooked by mental health and employment support services, which are failing to meet their needs. This is due to a lack of data on their experiences and exclusion from policymaking.
MPs are calling for service-users to be involved in designing services to ensure they are more responsive to the needs and experiences of diverse groups – especially when it comes to mental health and employment support.
The law must also change to factor in the ‘multiple discrimination’ that women face, lawmakers said. At present, a black woman can only bring a case that she has been discriminated against on one of those two characteristics – not the combination of the two.
The ‘Invisible Women’ report also says that gender pay gap reporting has the potential to drive real change. However, the lack of intersectionality hides many women’s experiences. Factors such as disability, age, race, faith, ethnicity, sexuality and location impact on the size of the pay gap women face but current reporting does not take this into account. Driving change for all women requires a more nuanced approach.
Jess Phillips MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sex Equality said:
“Millions of women are invisible in Westminster’s evidence and thinking. Unless we see women in all their diversity, we will make the wrong policy decisions and will not achieve equality.
“We need data, policy, the law and services to recognise women’s diverse experiences and work for women.”