Shelagh Simmons and Carolyne Jacobs, Joint Co-ordinators for Solent WASPI Supporters’ Group share this report from Solent WASPI. Ed
Saturday, 14th July 2018 is WASPI Regional Action Day. Representatives of Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) groups across the south will be holding a rally in Southampton City Centre. A separate event will be taking place on the Isle of Wight.
The aim of the rally is to raise awareness about how changes to the State Pension Age (SPA) have adversely affected women born in the 1950s and to highlight the WASPI campaign. It will also send a strong message to the Government that our campaign will continue until we get justice.
Support from local councils
A number of local councils in the region have approved motions supporting our campaign.
They include the Isle of Wight, Southampton, Portsmouth, Havant, East Hampshire District Council and Brighton & Hove. We also have the support of some local MPs.
We are delighted that Alan Whitehead MP (Southampton Test), Councillor Mike Osment (Mayor of Salisbury) and Southampton City Councillor Tammy Thomas will be among those joining us on the day.
The rally day coincides with suffrage campaigner Emmeline Pankhurst’s birthday. In honour of Women’s Suffrage Centenary Year, some of us will dress as Suffragettes. After marching with our group banners from the Civic Centre, we will be outside West Quay Shopping Centre, Above Bar Street, at 12 noon where we will be acknowledging pledges of support, outlining the WASPI campaign, talking to shoppers and handing out flyers. We will be there until 4pm.
Isle of Wight WASPI will be in St James Square, Newport (near the Blue Door Café) from 12 noon until 2pm.
High profile supporters
Messages of support for our rally and campaign have been received from MPs from all parties and other supporters.
They include journalist and broadcaster Dame Joan Bakewell; women’s equality campaigner and descendant of Emmeline and Sylvia Pankhurst Dr Helen Pankhurst; writers/co-stars of touring production “A Necessary Woman” (a play about suffragette Emily Wilding Davison), Deborah Clair and Philippa Urquhart and lawyer/journalist Peter Stefanovic. The messages will be read out at the start of our rally. We will also be sharing some personal testimonies of women suffering as a result of this pension injustice.
Fighting battles of injustice
In this Women’s Suffrage Centenary Year, it is particularly important we recognise that women continue to fight battles about injustice and we want to bring to the notice of the public the difficult and unfair situation caused by changes to the SPA.
Participating groups are part of a national network campaigning for fair transitional payments for women born in the 1950s who have had their SPA raised by as much as 6 years with little, or no, notice. Many have suffered severe hardship as a result, affecting not only women but their families too.
We agree that men and women should retire at the same age and do not ask for the SPA to revert to 60. However, we object to the unfair way these SPA rises have been introduced, leaving no time to prepare for such a major change. Some women have been forced to sell their homes to make ends meet. After a lifetime of inequality and financial disadvantage, the least we should expect is a fair, properly communicated transition to SPA equalisation.
If you support justice for 1950s women and their families, or want to know more about our campaign, join us on Saturday 14th July at:
West Quay entrance, Above Bar Street at 12 noon to 4pm
Isle of Wight
Newport (near the Blue Door Cafe) 18 St James’ Square, at 12 noon to 2pm