Category Archives: Equality, Diversity And Inclusion
Who inhabits the cybervillage? Mostly it seems younger people, and, in the more technological parts of that so-called village, men. But there are a few self-proclaimed women ‘geeks’ of a certain age out there too; and some of them are claiming a cyber-space for their own ideas. I don’t profess to be a geek; but maybe I match the profile in other ways.
It’s interesting that, as we mark the eightieth anniversary in Britain of full female emancipation via the Equal Franchise Act (2 July 1928), the issue of ‘older female geeks’ seems to be coming to the fore.
In July 1928 women in the U.K. were awarded the vote on the same basis as men. And in the Summer of 2008 it looks like they are to be recognised as enfranchised also as legitimate inhabitants of the blogosphere.
Older female geeks who blog
As Natalie d’Arbeloff of Blaugustine says in her Guardian article of 13 June ’08, there aren’t many ‘older female geeks’ as yet, but this species does exist as a measurably sized group. She lists amongst their number Penelope Farmer of Rockpool in the Kitchen, Fran of Sacred Ordinary, Marja-Leena Rathje, Elizabeth Adams of The Cassandra Pages, Tamarika of Mining Nuggets and Rain of Rainy Day Thoughts.
Self-evidently sterling women, all of them; but am I correct in thinking that not one of these writer is actually British-born and still living in the UK? North America features highly in this list; though not Britain. I, being so domiciled, am pondering this….
Geeks or bloggers?
And are all bloggers geeks, I wonder? For me, the interest lies in the writing, in getting one’s head around particular or puzzling ‘facts’, experiences and perceptions, or perhaps placing an engaging (I hope) photograph in a pleasing or interesting way. The technicals are of significance only insofar as I have to do them to achieve what I want – just like driving my car.
The skill in designing my blog has been entirely Nick Prior‘s, not mine. My role as we develop the website has been merely to explain or think up what features I have a feeling would help, and Nick then interprets them, to deliver something real.
Claiming a blogosphere space
But being a geek (though I’m not even sure Nick’s one of those, he’s skilled and knowledgeable, not just an excellent technician) isn’t what matters. It’s surely the ideas which count?
Today I read another Guardian piece, by Cath Elliott, in which she discusses the use older women make of their blogs to look at experiences and perceptions which might otherwise remain unremarked.
Now that I find really fascinating. And I’d like to think in part it’s what I do right here.
Read more articles about Hilary’s Weblog.
Liverpool’s Operation Black Vote programme was launched today in our Town Hall. This ambitious movement intends to establish an emerging generation of politicians of all ‘races’, cultures and faiths, who have been mentored early in their careers by existing councillors. The event this evening demonstrated that OBV’s aim is shared by all our civic leaders, and that they believe they will indeed deliver.
Further information on Operation Black Vote.
Social Inclusion & Diversity
Camera & Calendar
The Presidential potential of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is great. So how has this embarrassment of riches for Democrats in the USA seemingly become an advantage for John McCain and the Republicans, as the ‘race’ and gender agendas compete for dominance? Do progressive politics in race and gender need to collide?
The current – but perhaps soon to be resolved – contest for the Democratic Presidential nomination has revealed some aspects of the political process usually less visible to outside observers.
To understand what’s happening we probably need to look as closely at the (social) psychology of the evolving situation, as we do at the formal political process.
How did two of the most powerful and internationally visible advocates for equal rights find themselves head to head in the same contest? And what does it tell us about gender, ‘race’, and age in politics?
The prospect of candidature is daunting
Only the most stout-hearted would ever consider running for Presidential nomination. It’s a hiding to nothing for most contenders, it costs millions of dollars, and it requires vast amounts of personal time, energy, drive and gritty optimism.
So we’re not talking about ‘normal’ people when we consider Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.
Testing the water
Sometimes, nonetheless, the time seems right.
For both Clinton and Obama the Bush administration’s record of failure offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Democrats to take the USA and the world by storm.
And for Clinton it represented the culmination – and justification – of a long period of influence on the global stage. She’d planned for several years to become the first ever female World Leader; and her experience gave her huge justification for this ambition.
Obama’s situation was probably rather more complex. Did his family, worried about his safety, really want him to stand? Would his short time as a Senator be seen as inexperience or as a fresh face? Were race issues going to make things difficult?
But crucially, he will have asked himself, would there ever be a greater opportunity, a more open goal, for whoever was nominated by the Democrats? Best perhaps to put down a marker now….?
It has been said Obama promised his wife he’d only stand once. When could be better for establishing the first black President in office?
Firming the intent
There comes a time for all serious election candidates when they really believe they can win. Surrounded by supporters and campaign workers, they are, however inadvertently, at one remove from the cruel truth that there will be many losers but only one victor.
Presumably this moment came quite early on for Obama. He decided to stand and looks at present as if he will gain the Democratic nomination.
These are very delicate issues, but put bluntly, the contest appears to be developing – as surveys have largely shown – according to the usual lines.
Age, gender or race?
Both candidates have huge appeal to progressive Americans, eager to shrug off the turgid, backward-looking and deeply divisive Bush era. But there are differences not easily dismissed in who the two potential candidates ‘are’.
Clinton is an older (age 60), white woman, inevitably carrying the baggage which decades of deep political engagement bring.
Obama is younger, black and male; and his lack of baggage, because of the good fortune (at 45) of his comparative youth, compensates for his inexperience.
A hierarchy of preference
If things turn out as seems likely we shall have observed again the hierarchies which present in so many aspects of public life.
Given the opportunity to choose between two symbols of progressive – if not leftwing – politics, race is it currently appears perhaps less of an issue (overall?) for the electorate than gender.
Could it be that this consideration in some way enhanced Obama’s enthusiasm for standing so relatively early in his political career? (Earlier in his career he reportedly told a male colleague, Jesse Jackson Jnr., that he, Obama, would only contest a Senate seat if the other man did not.)
Many people across the free world – including me – would like to see Clinton and Obama together on the world stage, running side-by-side as Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. They are as good, in the context of US realpolitik, as it gets.
For some of us there remains nonetheless an unbidden sadness in the realisation that, even now, the odds are apparently stacked against a (any?) woman. More than half the population of the USA is female (an estimated 153 million, of a total population of nearly 302 million – of whom 240 million are ‘white’); but there is – unless you consider Chelsea? – no immediately obvious female presidential successor to Hillary Clinton, if or when she pulls out.
Seeing things longer-term
To many younger people it seems Obama looks the more attractive option, for the reasons we have considered above. Some of us who have been involved in the equal rights movement for decades may, however much we genuinely want to see equality in ‘race’ just as much as we want to see gender, go along with that judgement with a heavy heart.
Perhaps the truth is this: Gender becomes more oppressive for many women as they experience full maturity – it’s when hard ‘family vs career’ choices have to be made that the full force of being biologically female hits one. (And how many women under, say, 35 are ever going to run for president?)
On the other hand, for people of ‘minority’ race, especially if they’re educated men, maybe the oppression lessens a little as maturity approaches and one’s destiny is more one’s own? I would like to think so, anyway – and would be interested to learn more from those who can speak directly about this.
Squaring the circle
These are delicate and difficult matters to discuss.
We are all a product of our individual genetic makeup, and of our socio-economic background, age and culture. No-one is immune from these influences; but everyone is fundamentally entitled to shape and take charge of their own way in life. To enable this to happen requires a very firm commitment, embedded at every level of society, to respect for equality and diversity.
To repeat: Progressives are seemingly spoilt for choice. Both Clinton and Obama are hugely refreshing and talented alternatives to the usual presidential offerings. Either would serve the equality and diversity agenda – so very essential for our future well-being and sustainability – really well.
A step forward or a step back?
But some of us, in spite of our earnest and well-meaning selves, are a bit weary of being the majority which is always and apparently irredeemably second in the race. Especially when, as is the truth for Hillary Clinton, we were there first.
How can feminists – advocates of a progressive perspective which at its best will always seek equality for everyone, female and male, black and white, aged and youthful – cope with the evidence apparently emerging that voters still prefer not to select a woman, if other progressive choices are available? (And, probably, those other candidates have recognised, and can benefit from, this usually unexamined preference…)
As Marie Cocco of the Washington Post puts it, we are now facing the ‘Not Clinton’ Excuse – and that could put things back a very long time.
A challenge Obama must resolve
Somehow the putative President Obama must show this is a challenge to his progressive credentials, and to the inner feelings of many disappointed women who in other respects share his progressive position, which he understands and can accommode.
Perhaps in the current situation the best we can hope for immediately is that Hillary Clinton is acknowledged by Barack Obama in some seriously meaningful way.
The worst possibility is that an extended and exhausting Clinton-Obama contest gives John McCain the opportunity he seeks to slip through the middle and retain the Presidency for the Republicans later this year.
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Workable Regeneration: Acknowledging Difference To Achieve Social Equity (Equality And Diversity ‘Regeneration Rethink’)
Regeneration is a crowded field. It’s the market place to resolve the competing demands of social equity indicators as varied as joblessness, family health, carbon footprint, religious belief and housing. But it’s obvious something isn’t gelling in the way regeneration ‘works’. Could that something be the almost gratuitous neglect of experiential equality and diversity?
BURA, the British Urban Regeneration Association, is squaring up to this fundamental challenge.
Discuss equality and diversity issues with any group of regeneration practitioners, and just one of two responses is likely.
Some respond immediately: Yes, critical for everyone; what took you so long?
For others, the feeling seems to be more : Great idea, but not much to do with me.
So where’s the common ground?
Balancing strategy and everyday reality
How can we balance large-scale strategies for a sustainable economy with the immediate human reality that, as an example, women born in Pakistan now living in Britain have twice the U.K. average risk that their babies will die before age one?
The Board of BURA, the British Urban Regeneration Association, has during the past year thought hard about where in all this some commonality might lie, and what that means for the future. Whether as a practitioner, a client or recipient of regenerational endeavours, an agent for economic development, or a policy maker seeking sustainable futures for us all, questions of social equity matter a lot.
But the case for equality and diversity is easier for practitioners and decision-makers to see in some parts of regeneration than others.
Large-scale and micro impacts
No-one doubts, for instance, that new roads and other infrastructure can attract businesses and enhance employment opportunities for disadvantaged areas.
Some will acknowledge the physical isolation which new highways may impose on those without transport, now perhaps cut off from their families, friends and local amenities.
Almost no-one considers how regeneration might reduce the tragic personal realities behind high infant death rates in poor or ‘deprived’ communities.
The point is that these impacts are differential. The elderly or disabled, mothers and young children, people of minority ethnic heritage: overall the experience of people in these groups is more community disadvantage and fewer formal resources to overcome this disadvantage.
But for each ‘group’, the tipping points are different.
The scope for examination of differential equality and diversity impacts – of infrastructural arrangements, of process, of capacity building and of everything else to do with regeneration – is enormous, and would go quite a way towards reducing unintended consequences and even greater serendipitous disadvantage for some people.
This work has hardly begun, but it is I believe a basic requirement and tool for making progress towards genuinely remediated and sustainable communities.
One size does not fit all
It is obvious that currently something isn’t gelling in the way that regeneration ‘works’. That something, to my mind, is the almost gratuitous neglect of difference. However one looks at it, one size simply does not fit all in the greater regenerational scheme of things.
But if you zoomed in from outer space, you’d be forced to the conclusion that one size does in fact fit almost all when it comes to senior decision-makers and influencers. There are amongst leaders in regeneration some women, a few non-white faces, and perhaps even smaller numbers of influencers with personal experience of, say, disability; but not many.
This self-evident fact has, of course, been a matter of deep concern to those in the regeneration sector over the past few months.
Meeting social equity requirements – or not
In the final three reports it published before its amalgamation last September into the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) demonstrated very clearly that regeneration bodies at every level, including 15 Whitehall departments, are failing to meet their race relations obligations. They also showed very compellingly that people from ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty, experience poor health, and encounter the criminal justice system.
Causal factors cited as underlying the CRE’s findings encompass most of what regeneration is supposed to do well. Failures of leadership, impact assessment, legal framework and recruitment are all lamented in the reports.
And we can add, alongside the CRE’s analysis, inequalities arising from gender, belief and other factors such as disability, as well as the wider issue of the invisibility and powerlessness of people of all kinds who are on low incomes – who, as it happens, are the main ‘recipients’ (perhaps we should call them ‘clients’?) of regeneration.
There is a huge disparity here. Look round pretty well any significant regeneration-facing board room or policy think-tank, and it’s apparent that the majority of those wielding influence (on behalf, we should note, of people whose communities are to be ‘regenerated’) are comfortably-off, able bodied, white men.
In this respect, as everyone involved freely admits, the BURA Board fits the mould. Each BURA (elected) Director brings something special to the table; but few of them can offer at first hand a personal perspective divergent from the stereotype. We have therefore decided, unanimously, to address head-on this increasingly serious challenge to our capacity to deliver as leaders in regeneration.
But the BURA Board focus on equality and diversity, whilst driven primarily by the impetus to uphold best practice in regeneration, is not entirely altruistic. This is also good for business.
There is plenty of evidence from well-grounded research that sharing different understandings of any complex situation, right up to and including at Board level, brings benefit all round – including to the bottom line.
Our resolve to implement equality and diversity good practice throughout BURA has required that we look anew at how we function. The BURA Board recognises that we will need to be receptive to new ideas, willing to change things where needs be, and transparent in our own processes and activities.
The BURA programme for action
The BURA action plan, launched in Westminster on 20 February ’08, is therefore to:
· conduct an equality and diversity audit of all aspects (including Board membership) of our organisation’s structure and business, and to publish our outline findings and plan for action on our website;
· monitor and report on our progress towards equality and diversity;
· dedicate a part of the BURA website to offering up-to-date information on equality and diversity matters, in a format freely accessible to everyone;
· develop our (also open) Regeneration Equality and Diversity Network, launched in February this year (2008), to encourage very necessary debate and the exchange of good practice;
· appoint from amongst elected Non-Executive Directors a BURA Equality and Diversity Champion (me), to ensure a continued focus on the issues.
In all these ways – developing inclusive partnerships at every level from local to governmental to international, supporting new initiatives and research of all sorts, keeping the equality and diversity agenda in the spotlight – we hope to move regeneration beyond its current boundaries, towards a place from which we can begin to establish not ‘just’ remediation of poor physical and human environments, but rather true and responsive sustainability.
Regeneration is complex
Regeneration is more than construction, development or even planning; it has to address for instance the alarming recent finding by New Start that sometimes ‘race’ concerns are focused more on fear, than on entitlement or social equity.
Delivery of our ambition to achieve genuine best practice will require the courage to move beyond current and largely unperceived hierarchies of inequality and diversity – not ‘just’ race, but gender / sexuality too; not ‘just’ faith / belief, but also disability – towards a framework which encompasses the challenging complexities of the world as people actually experience it.
No comfort zones
There can be no comfort zones in this enterprise. Acknowledging stark contemporary truths and painful past failures is essential if we are to succeed.
The purpose of regeneration is not to make practitioners feel good, it is ultimately, rather, to do ourselves out of a job; to improve, sustainably, the lives of people who are often neither powerful nor visible in the existing wider scheme of things.
Moving from piecemeal regeneration to sustainable futures makes two demands of us: that we see clearly where we all are now; and that we ascertain properly where the people of all sorts on whose behalf we are delivering regeneration would wish to be.
Multiple aspects of diversity
When we can balance constructively, say, the carbon footprint concerns of a businessman in Cheltenham, and the ambition to influence childcare arrangements of an Asian heritage woman in Bury, we shall be getting somewhere.
Diversity in its many manifestations – age, belief, (dis)ability, gender, race or whatever – is part of the human condition.
Consistent focus on the many factors underpinning that condition would be a powerful impetus towards sustainability. It would also be also a huge professional challenge.
Taking the lead as regenerators
That’s why we as regeneration leaders and practitioners must make equality and diversity a critically central theme, both within our own organisations and in the services which we deliver.
And it’s why we must start to do this right now.
We hope you will want to join us on our journey.
A version of this article was published as Regeneration re-think in Public Service Review: Transport, Local Government and the Regions, issue 12, Spring 2008.
Hilary Burrage is a Director of BURA, the British Urban Regeneration Association.
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Social Inclusion & Diversity
Senior women leaders are often criticised for being less confident than the men, and for feeling unable to delegate. Is this any wonder, when those very men don’t play fair? It’s time for sexist attitudes in the corridors of power to be challenged head-on – which is exactly what Margot Wallström, Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders Ministerial Initiative, has just been doing.
The truth is, men choose men. It is as simple as that – not a question of lack of ambition, of interest or of aptitude from women.
So, in her article A thick layer of men, says Margot Wallström, Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders Ministerial Initiative, a network of current and former women presidents, prime ministers and ministers aiming ‘to promote good governance and enhance democracy globally by increasing the number, effectiveness, and visibility of women who lead at the highest levels in their countries’.
Well, I of course agree. There has to be some explanation of the neglect of women’s (much-needed) talents, and the most obvious is that they’re not part of the Gang. Until 90 years ago, women in the UK weren’t even permitted to vote, let alone to be members of the UK’s ultimate chaps’ club, Parliament, where many of the really big decisions are made.
We all know that the dynamic of debate and decision-making changes as the gender ratio also changes, both for men and for women.
And of course some men are always fairminded and exemplary in their professional conduct and beliefs; but sadly not as yet in sufficient numbers to secure the fundamental changes essential for genuine gender (or other) equality.
Determined rather than confident?
Maybe this explains claims at the moment that there may now be more women taking leadership roles, but these women are ‘less confident‘ than their male peers, and feel more obliged to ‘check the detail’ and don’t like to delegate.
You can only let the detail go, and feel confident, if you know that what you ask to be done, is indeed being done.
The next step towards gender equality can only be taken by the male half of the workforce. When men (and some other women) are as amenable to women as to men issuing the orders, leaders who happen to be female will feel confident that they don’t need to check up on everything.
Challenge the sexism, not the upshot
Until that’s fully grasped – and until ungendered collaboration and compliance in the workplace becomes a required part of professional behaviour for everyone – criticism of women’s leadership styles is, quite simply, unfair and out of order.
All power, I say, to Margot Wallström’s elbow, as she puts the ball back firmly in the chaps’ court.
Today (20 February 2008) saw the formal launch of the British Urban Regeneration Association (BURA)’s Equality and Diversity Framework and Network. The event, at the Abbey Community Centre in Westminster, was attended by people from across the regeneration world, and produced much discussion about how BURA and its partners could move forward.
In my role as BURA Champion for Equality and Diversity I was lucky enough to join our President, Sir Jeremy Beecham, and other colleagues, in presenting and discussing initial ideas about this challenging issue.
Your views too are welcome. To begin the debate, this is what I said:
BURA Regeneration Equality and Diversity Framework Launch
Wednesday 20 February 2008, Westminster, London
This event was set up, as Sir Jeremy explained, because of serious concerns which the BURA Board has about inclusivity in regeneration.
The evidence is before our eyes; the top of the profession is overwhelmingly populated by white men.
Regeneration fits the white male stereotype for leadership in Britain only too well; and the stereotype extends even to the BURA Board itself, where Directors are elected from amongst our hundreds of members.
Something has to be done. No-one disputes that, as regeneration practitioners, we must address inclusion; but few of us have articulated how this intention fits in with regeneration. And fewer still I suspect, are sure how to do it.
The BURA Board has therefore decided to invite your help and support as we move forward on this challenging issue.
What is inclusivity and why does it matter?
A look at the work of the Equality and Human Rights Commission gives us a good feel for what an inclusive society might look like.
It would be a society in which people had safe and secure opportunities to enjoy a happy and healthy life.
In this society people of every sort would find themselves in positions of influence and leadership, and able to work towards a situation which in turn releases the potential of others.
This would be a society in which we, as regeneration practitioners, understood the impact of our work on all our fellow citizens, and then applied that knowledge across all our activities.
It would be a society in which, say, Asian women in Bury had as much opportunity to develop their interests and employment potential as white men in Cheltenham. It would be a society in which families in both these communities were equally likely to see their children born healthy and strong, with an equal expectation of a long and happy life.
In a nutshell, it would be a society which is stable and sustainable.
And if regeneration isn’t about achieving socio-economic stability and environmental sustainability, I don’t know what is.
Regeneration is more than the sum of its parts
I believe firmly that the task of today’s regeneration practitioners is to work themselves out of a job. We need to believe at a very deep level that ‘regeneration’ is not the same as ‘construction’, or ‘remediation’, or even as ‘planning’.
Critical though these callings are, real regeneration is much more than that.
After 30 years of regeneration in Britain, we should now be seeking very actively to reinvent ourselves as ‘sustainability practitioners’, as professionals who work to maintain an equitable, healthy and safe environment for everyone.
This reinvention of ourselves would require massive changes in the way we work, in our collaborations across disciplinary boundaries, and in our perceptions of how fellow citizens who are not exactly like ourselves experience their lives.
We can’t do that if we don’t understand how to achieve inclusivity, and why it matters.
But there is a very long way to go.
What is BURA doing about itself?
* Firstly, we have undertaken a thorough audit of our own organisation.
* We have looked at the gender and ethnicity of all members of staff and the Board, going back for three years, and for staff we have correlated this with salary bands. We shall report these findings to the Board when it next meets, and post a summary of this information thereafter on our website.
* We will also decide as a Board, in consultation with, we hope, our new Chief Executive, how much more data it might or might not be appropriate to record about the Board and staff.
* And we shall consult too on whether and, if so, how we need to look at the ‘inclusion’ characteristics of all BURA members.
* We would hope at the same time to start research on these characteristics as they apply to the regeneration sector as a whole, and to see how this compares with the data for the British population overall.
What is BURA doing to support progress in regeneration overall?
* Importantly, we are not seeking to compete with anyone; we are offering a supportive network which encompasses the whole spectrum of interests – inclusive, not competitive, with the sole aim of moving this positive agenda forward.
* Also, we recognise that no-one as yet has all the answers; we are simply trying, with everyone else, to identify both the challenges and the opportunities.
* We are launching today a Regeneration Equality and Diversity Framework, an ‘umbrella’ group welcoming people and organisations from every part of regeneration, ‘professional’ to ‘community’, to address a wide range of issues around equality and diversity.
This group will not seek to undertake work already done by others, but will help to link together the inclusion themes which regeneration good practice must address.
Some examples of what the BURA E&D Framework seeks to achieve
* We will support the exchange of information and views about what are the most immediate challenges for Equality and Diversity in regeneration in the UK.
* We will seek to collaborate with government at local and national level, and with research bodies already examining aspects of Equality and Diversity.
* We will develop the BURA website as a free open-access resource, available to all, hosting weblinks to legal and professional aspects of regeneration practice – including equality and legal audits – and enabling wider discussion between BURA members and partners.
* We will offer practical help and support to people from different communities who wish to become involved in regeneration – perhaps for instance by offering bursaries and work placements – in a collaboration between BURA and our members and corporate partners.
* But most of all, we will seek to work with all of you to make the BURA Regeneration Equality and Diversity Framework not just a talking shop, but a vibrant and positive reality.
In for the duration
* This is however slow-burn. We’re asking the questions but we don’t as yet have many of the answers; everyone here today can help.
* The BURA Board are unanimous that we must work hard to make our Equality and Diversity Framework a reality, not just an ambition.
We very much hope that you will want to be part of this reality.
Contact Hilary at BURA
Next week sees the launch in Westminster, London of the British Urban Regeneration Association (BURA) Regeneration Equality and Diversity Framework.
The BURA Board has unanimously resolved to try honestly to do what regeneration is supposed to do – reduce inequality and discrimination through the creation of environments where people can lead sustainable, happy and fulfilling lives.
From the regeneration perspective, equality and diversity are difficult things to get one’s head around. There are so many variables.
I tend therefore to approach these issues from the ‘other end’, and to ask myself the Big Question: what might a community look like when we’ve finished ‘regenerating’ it?
Put that way, things begin to fall into place.
Two outlooks are possible for a place or community which has received the full attention of the regeneration professionals.
Either it will thrive, moving forward to a happier future, where people feel fulfilled and their needs are met in a much more embedded way than before; or it will in time lose its expensive new patina and sink into a deeper, sadder, less secure state even than before.
These different outcomes depend largely on the extent to which that community has been enabled to achieve sustainability.
Three aspects to sustainability
Sustainability has three major aspectss: physical (‘environmental’), economic and social. None of these can be achieved longer term without the others.
Sustainability is impossible without equality and diversity; so regeneration too is underpinned by them.
A stark truth
The Commission for Racial Equality’s final blast at the regeneration business, when in late 2007 that organisation became a part of the new Equality and Human Rights Commission, was well placed. It demonstrated, starkly, that ‘race’ issues remain desperately under-addressed in regeneration.
And it certainly made the Board of the British Urban Regeneration Association (BURA) sit up. Already painfully aware of a lack of diversity at the top table, now we had undeniable evidence about one critically core aspect of disadvantage.
Many realities, many ways forward
The more we looked at disadvantage – whether resulting from age, religion and belief, disability, gender, race or sexual orientation – the more it seemed to stem from the same issues; issues most often around opportunities and resources which people feel they have been denied.
The multiple realities of ‘ordinary’ people’s lives are what define our communities and how they interface with the wider society. This then, surely, is what regeneration is all about?
Where to begin?
So here is BURA’s starting point.
As leading players in regeneration, BURA’s Board has resolved to try honestly to do what regeneration is supposed to do – which is to reduce inequality and discrimination through the creation of environments where people can lead happy and fulfilling lives.
To do this we will look carefully and immediately at how we can put our own house in order; we will listen to and liaise with as many other interested parties as we can; we will seek out, and where necessary and possible commission, research which informs our ambition; and we will take the message wherever it needs to go.
We introduced the BURA Regeneration Equality and Diversity Framework concept at our 2008 annual conference, in January. We shall launch it formally at our London event on 20 February; and we will monitor our progress thoroughly as we move forward.
We hope you too will want to be part of this journey.
Hilary Burrage is a member of the BURA Board, and BURA Equality and Diversity Champion. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The BURA Equality and Diversity campaign is supported by New Start and Ecotec.
This article is a version of the piece published in New Start, 15 February 2008.
See also: New Start survey reveals doubts over cohesion and New Start Editorial of 13 February 2008.
Just 90 years ago on this date was the first time any woman in the UK was ‘allowed’ to vote. Some people still alive now were born when women’s emancipation did not exist; and even in 1918 the Representation of the People Act permitted only specified women over 30 this privilege. It was to be another ten years before women gained equal voting rights with men.
From the time of the Representation of the People Act of 6 February 1918 until the Equal Franchise Act of 2 July 1928, despite this and other first and desperately hard-fought victories, democratic voting rights were still not equal between men and women.
But that was by no means the end of the fight for formal equality. It was, extraordinarily, not until 30 April 1958 – a date still easily within the memory of many people – that the Life Peerages Act enabled just four women gained entry to the House of Lords.
Not there yet
So progress has indeed been made towards women’s equality in the past century. No longer are women paid less in, or indeed debarred if they marry from, professions like teaching; no longer does the law formally and overtly permit differences in the way women and men stand before it.
But still much remains to be done. As Katherine Rake, Director of the Fawcett Society, says in her Guardian interview this week:
We have done as much as we can levering women into a system designed by men for men. Now we have to work for a society where the rules are fitted for everybody…. There has been a huge change in women’s lives, but very little in men’s. [To make further progress] we have got to look at what happens in men’s lives…..
Even now, these battles continue, worldwide….
So I make no apology for being a long-time committed feminist. Half a century after women’s first step towards full emancipation, the feminist agenda of 1968 was a turning point as I entered adulthood. But the year 2008 still sees a long road ahead.
In my lifetime much has changed; but not enough.
Whilst, for example, the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act brought about a fairer situation for women requiring maternity leave (and , thereby, their partners and families) – though it was too late for some of my friends and me.
Still unequal in work and in power
But gender equality in the workplace is even now nowhere near achieved. British women in full time work are still paid on average 17% less than men similarly employed; and when part-time the difference between men and women is 36%.
And in national politics, where the big decisions are made, women remain even now a minority. The 2005 General Election saw 128 women elected in an assembly of 644, most of them – as Theresa May, a leading Conservative, herself acknowledged, from the Labour Party. (As at the end of 2006, of 712 Lords, 139 were women.)
Gender fatigue there may well be; but this is no time for inaction.
A way to shape the future
There remain enormous gaps, for both men and women, in parts of our lives which, whatever the legal frameworks, still have to be addressed. Men and women remain unequal, for each of them in different ways. (And so as we know do people of different sexualities, of different colour or age, of different beliefs and with different abilities.)
You don’t, actually, need to be a woman to want to seek equality, to hold that feminism is a sensible and decent way to see the world. You just have to be a fair-minded person.
Read more about Gender & Women.
2008 sees a new location for Monday Women in Liverpool. For a few months we’ll be meeting in El Rincon Latino, by Roscoe Street and Oldham Street in the new City Gate development at the top of Renshaw Street. It’s free to come; all women most welcome, first Monday of every month, from about 5.45 to 7.30-ish p.m.
El Rincon Latino is located on the corner of Roscoe Street and Oldham Street just one block up the hill from Renshaw Street. It’s immediately across from the multi-storey car park behind Leece Street Post Office, on the town side of Leece Street but still near St Luke’s, the ‘Bombed Church’. You can also get there via a very short walk up the hill opposite the main entrance to Rapid Hardware on Renshaw Street.
The address and postcode are Roscoe Street, L1 2SU (map); tel: 0151- 324 0454.
All you pay for is your supper and drinks, ordered as you wish from the bar, if / when you’d like some – but no obligation. (There’s a photograph of a sample menu below, right…) Our Chilean host, Francisco Carrasco, is also Director of All Things Latin (ATL) and tell us the cafe aims to serve food from across Southern and Central America, as the head chef is from Ecuador. The venue has many cultural links with Latin America.
If you have ideas about anything you’d really like to discuss or do when everyone meets, you can of course join the Monday Women e-group (absolutely free, quite voluntary) and suggest things beforehand. Other than that, the format of each Monday Women event is decided by those who are there – drinks and chat, debate, even this year perhaps post-meeting salsa classes… It’s your choice! Dates for 2008 are below.
Monday Women meeting dates for 2008 (all first Mondays of the month, 5.45-ish to approx. 7.30, please just come and go as you wish) are:
December 1st (special event, the annual Christmas Do!!)
To check any particular date please call the venue on 0151-324 0454.
Do join us. No need to book, just turn up whatever time you can; and bring your women friends as well…
We’d love to see you there.
Find out more here or visit the Monday Women message board.