Women-led policy and movement building

20 May 2019

A new partnership between the New Economics Foundation, Women’s Budget Group and Smallwood Trust will seek to broaden and deepen the impact of our work with financially vulnerable and disadvantaged women and the frontline organisations that support them.

Today, 2.5 million UK women in live in persistent poverty. Research undertaken by the Women’s Budget Group shows that women’s risk of poverty depends on their position at the intersection of three systems: the labour market, the family and the welfare state. This chimes with our own evidence that shows the main reasons individual women are applying for our funding are; high housing costs, reductions in benefits and zero hours contracts.

It is clear that without a focused and systemic approach to achieving change, these women will remain vulnerable. We have an incredible chance to address inequalities, not only by recognising the power and opportunity we have, but to support financially vulnerable women and the groups that support them to discover theirs.

Over a 3-year period the partnership will incubate women-led policy development and movement-building process which will build a policy agenda starting with the lived experience of the Trust’s beneficiaries and the local organisations who provide vital services to them.

We welcome this opportunity as a crucial and step-changing approach in the face of the government’s austerity programme having degraded the rights and material conditions of women in the UK on a massive scale over the past decade. We aim to develop the capacity of our grantees to have influence on relevant issues, first at a local and then at a national level, through the provision of leadership development and network building.

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the Women’s Budget Group said, “We know that policies affect women and men differently because of their different circumstances and needs. So it is vital that women’s voices are heard when policy is made. The Women’s Budget Group is really pleased to be able to play a part in this project to strengthen local women’s networks and enable women to organise and advocate for their needs at a local and national level. It’s great to see funders like Smallwood supporting work to help women be heard”.

The project will start in September 2019. For more information, please contact emmacrump@smallwoodtrust.org.uk.