Left image: Jacob Teagle. Right image: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Eccles Councilor Sharmina August says she hopes to examine some of the key issues facing women in Salford and strengthen the city’s response to those issues with the launch of a Women and Girl’s commission.

Starting on November 29, Sharmina August hopes that the commission can help squash inequalities that women in Salford deal with on a day-to-day basis. The commission will be launched as part of Salford City Council’s equality and inclusion strategy, which looks to tackle all forms of inequality across the city, such as racism and poverty.

“It was something that we first suggested in the wake of what happened with Sara Everard,” said August

“A lot of women and councillors coming forward with their own experiences around safety and harassment and abuse. It was something we thought we needed to act upon.

“It’s going to be looking at all of the different inequality’s women face across society. Things like pay, things like domestic abuse, discrimination with things like pregnancy. Anyone who identifies as women will be looked” she continues

“The idea is we look at things, bring in the experts, examine the data, and then come out with real suggestions to change things for the better for women in Salford.”

The commission launch comes at a time where the safety of women in all walks of society is very much under a magnifying glass, with a string of assaults, murders and spiking’s making headlines across the country. Many ‘solutions’ to the issue have all but focused on how women should act to avoid being a victim, rather than focusing on societal and root issues that allow this behaviour to not only persist but thrive.

“I know some people are very well-meaning and coming up with devices to protect your bottle and things like that. That is not the kind of thing we’re looking to do,” says August.

“We know that society itself needs to change. It’s not about women taking self-defence classes, having more lights on when they’re walking down the street.

“Why are we not talking about ways to stop men being violent towards women?”

Steps to overcome some inequalities have begun to be addressed within the council according to Sharmina, but the lead member for an inclusive economy, anti-poverty & equalities says there is still work to be done on a societal level.

“In the council, we have reduced our pay gap quite significantly, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” she says

“Unfortunately what we have is a gendered workforce across the cities. For example, care roles are predominantly done by women and they are underpaid.”

“We now have the lowest rates of people who aren’t being paid a real living wage in the entire Greater Manchester area, despite being one of the higher levels of deprived areas. By doing that, we are eroding the gender pay gap, because unfortunately, it is women in these lower-paid roles.”

Upon the launch of Salford City Council’s equality and inclusion strategy, August said she hoped “to make Salford a fair and inclusive city where everyone has equal access to services and opportunities and is included and represented in decisions that affect them.”

“We live in an unequal Britain, but we want Salford to be a place where everyone who lives and works here feels valued and included,” she says

“Salford’s greatest asset remains our people and we remain committed to making the city a welcoming, tolerant, and thriving place to live and work.”

You can read the equality and inclusion strategy here.

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