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2014 National Women's Conference
17 October 2013
Carried as Amended

Women are bearing the brunt of cuts from both the UK Government and our locally elected devolved institutions. In Northern Ireland alone, changes in welfare benefits may result in the loss of £500 million from our budget over the next four years.

It is clear that women will again suffer disproportionally from these changes. Women play a vital role in our economy as both workers and consumers. Decisions on the economy, in particular on health, and cuts to public services, have a major impact on women’s incomes and wider lives and will have a profound impact on increasing health inequalities.

The Government and the devolved institutions need to recognise that gender is the most significant factor interacting with economic status to compound health inequalities. Women and girls have greater health and social care needs than men across their lives and face significant barriers to both good mental and physical health. Women and girls’ lives are shaped by physiological factors and social experiences that negatively impact on their physical and mental health, including poverty and economic disadvantage, women’s reproductive and caring roles, experiencing violence and abuse and age. Whilst women live longer than men, they spend more years in poor health and with a disability. This has a detrimental impact on them as individuals but women’s position in society as main care givers means their poor health will also have a detrimental impact on the lives of their families and their ability to function in wider society, in their community and in the labour force. Cuts to frontline public services will exacerbate this situation and increase health inequalities for women across our society.

Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to work with Regional Women’s Committees and other UNISON structures in a renewed campaign to highlight the impact of cuts on women and to highlight that greater public investment must be directed towards prevention in order to tackle the root issues that impact on women across their lives, including poverty, sexual violence, abuse, reproduction and age.