Event: A living wage for mothers and other carers

We invite you to the launch of an important petition.

Invest in a caring society – a living wage for mothers and other carers
Wednesday 1st May 2013, 7-9pm
Room 10 on Committee Corridor, House of Commons London SW1  Westminster 
Chaired by John McDonnell MP who supports our campaign for decriminalisation.  There will be an open mic.  Come and speak about your situation.

The government is driving many more of us into poverty and destitution – there are no jobs and benefits are being cut.  They are making it impossible for many mothers, young people, trans and others to support ourselves without going into the sex industry and risking criminalisation.

We estimate that at least 70% of sex workers are mothers, mostly single mothers.  Many more are carers for relatives who are older or have a disability; or we have a disability ourselves and have been refused DLA; or we are immigrants sending money home to support families and sometimes whole communities.

On 1st May we will get together with women and men in different occupations, to demand that the basic survival work of caring for children should be recognised and paid for.  This is our best defence against being forced into prostitution by desperate poverty.  It is the best protection for our children, whose health and well-being suffer when their mothers are poor.

One of the women in our network said:

We can stay in bed, live in squalor, and survive on bread and jam, but personally I feel I deserve more and so does my daughter.  So I choose to go on the street and earn some money because I want a better life.  What I do is not dishonest.  It is hard work.  I wouldn’t do it if I had a choice.  But now that I have a criminal record for soliciting, it is the only job I can do that enables me to earn some money without neglecting my daughter.

Whatever our reasons for going into prostitution, the criminalisation we face drives us underground and into danger.   As the cuts bite we have to work longer and harder and take more risks.

In the 1980s women who came from areas of high unemployment in the Midlands and the North to work in King’s Cross were referred to as ‘Thatcher’s girls’.  Thatcher is now dead and buried – at great cost to all of us taxpayers.  But the destruction of society she began has carried on.

This petition is a tool to reclaim and rebuild society by demanding that the work of caring for others which is the foundation and lifeblood of every society, be recognised and paid for.  This would enable mothers and other carers to make real choices.

Join us at the launch on 1st May.  Sign the petition.  Pass it onto your networks, and organizations.  Facebook and tweet it.

As our sisters in India say, Naya Zamaana Aayega! A New Age is Coming

Looking forward to hearing from you

Petition to the UK Parliament.

Invest in a caring society.
A living wage for mothers and other carers.

Mothers are the primary carers everywhere in the world. Caring for children, sick, disabled and elderly people is work vital to society.

Carers are impoverished. Income Support is being abolished. Child Benefit is no longer universal. Carer’s Allowance is insultingly low and most carers don’t qualify. 200,000 care workers are denied the minimum wage.

When mothers are impoverished, children suffer hunger and ill-health, and are more often taken into care.

Mothers are told they are ‘workless’ and that earning is more important than caring. They are pushed into jobs regardless of hours, pay or childcare provision.

They are forced into unpaid work to ‘earn’ their benefits (‘workfare’). ‘Workfare’ bypasses the minimum wage, driving down all wages, especially women’s, and undermining pay equity.

Having to fit caring around jobs results in overwork and exhaustion.
Employed mothers (or fathers) who take time off to care for children or relatives, lose pay, promotion and future pension.

When caring work is devalued, people, relationships and life itself are devalued. The result is inequity and social neglect, but also environmental destruction and war.

Demanding resources for caring redirects economic and social policies towards people and the planet – and away from the uncaring market.

We demand that:
1. Caring must be recognised as vital work for the whole society.
2. All carers, including mothers, must be paid a living wage for this indispensable work, including paid time off.





Issued by: Global Women’s Strike (GWS) $ Women of Colour in GWS
Endorsed by: Single Mothers’ Self-Defence $ WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)
To endorse email: gws@globalwomenstrike.net or call: 020 7482 2496

• 3.5 million UK children (1 in 4) live in poverty; over 50% of children of colour are in poverty. Children with a disabled parent are more likely to live in severe poverty.
• 6 million people (1 in 10) care for a sick, disabled or older person. Over 1 in 3 ‘unemployed’ single parents care for a disabled child. Less than 1 in 10 carers get a Carer’s Allowance of £59.75.
• 1 in 4 mothers skip meals to feed their children. Over 40% of single parent families live in poverty. Single mothers doing a double day of caring and earning get lower wages than men – on average £337 p.w. rather than £491.
• Only 1 in 3 UK babies are breastfed at all at four months; 1 in 4 babies when mothers have to go out to work – with lifelong health consequences for mother and child.
• 88% of mothers of young children with a full-time job would rather work part-time or be full-time carers.
• Over 10,000 children were taken into care in 2011-12. Keeping a child in a care home costs £2,428 a week, foster care costs £489.


1945 Family Allowance (renamed Child Benefit in 1975): universal, paid weekly to every mother, after campaigning led by independent feminist MP Eleanor Rathbone, in recognition of the work mothers do and their right to be financially independent: “Nothing can justify the subordination of one group of producers –the mothers– to the rest, and their deprivation of all share of their own in the wealth of a community which depends on them for its very existence.”

Mothers’ money: government tries to transfer Child Benefit to the ‘wage earner’, usually a man. Wages for Housework co-ordinates a national campaign and CB is kept in mothers’ hands.

1976 Invalid Care Allowance (renamed Carer’s Allowance in 2003): paid to those caring 35+ hours weekly; later extended to those caring for spouses and to over-65s but cancelled out by pension.

1977 US Conference on Women (mandated by Congress): “The elimination of poverty must be a priority for all those working for equal rights for women . . . just as with other workers, homemakers receiving [welfare] payments should be afforded the dignity of having that payment called a wage, not welfare.”

1995 UN Conference on Women agrees that national accounts should include the value of caring work.

US ‘welfare reform’ ends entitlement and becomes the model for UK policies.

2011 US Rise Out of Poverty Act and WORK (Women’s Option to Raise Kids) Act: introduced in Congress. John McDonnell MP tables an Early Day Motion calling for similar legislation in the UK.

Child Benefit no longer universal: mothers in higher earnings households are excluded, while mothers on benefits may lose it through the ’benefits cap’.

2013 The Welfare State is being destroyed – benefits, the NHS, legal aid . . . survival is now under threat.


Our planet is on the brink. The market is pushing us to destruction. The market says it is ‘not practical’ to tackle climate change, and takes melting ice caps as a ‘business opportunity’ to drill for oil! By demanding resources for caring we demand the economy be redirected away from the market and its profit-driven wars, and towards caring for humans and all living things. Only the people can decide what should and shouldn’t be produced, and how to use technology to meet needs, work less, waste less and save the planet.

The Welfare State was created after WWII when the UK was bankrupt. Since then, money is always found for war against the will of the people: war in Afghanistan and Iraq cost $4+ trillion; £20bn paid by the UK on top of its £35bn annual defence budget. While services and benefits are cut, the richest 1,000 people got richer by £155bn in three years – enough to pay off the UK deficit with £30bn to spare.

This is an international perspective. In countries receiving aid, we demand that the money goes to mothers and other carers: used to attack poverty rather than to buy arms and line a few pockets.