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The criticisms made against William Beveridge by the feminist movement have, by-and-large, not been without justification for women have indeed suffered at the hands of the social insurance s

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Introduction

WHAT ARE THE GENDER LIMITATIONS OF THE CONCEPT OF 'CITIZENSHIP' ENSHRINED IN THE BEVERIDGE WELFARE STATE? CONTENTS What are the gender limitations of the concept of "citizenship" enshrined in the Beveridge Welfare State? 3 REFERENCES 14 BIBLIOGRAPHY 17 WORD COUNT 3,094 What are the gender limitations of the concept of "citizenship" enshrined in the Beveridge Welfare State? The concept of citizenship is both interesting and complex as it can encompass a range of meanings for people depending on their personal background: be it race, colour, status, class, religious beliefs etc. Indeed, we have recently seen a plethora of political and personal debate relating to citizenship concentrating on a person's place of birth, class, religious beliefs etc. For inhabitants of Britain today, the term 'citizenship' appears to have become integral aspect of everyday life. We are constantly bombarded with both news reports and newspaper headlines extolling the virtues of our being good (or bad) citizens: (Garner, 2002: B.B.C. News, 2001; 2002: Wintour and White, 2003). The current Labour Government, headed by Tony Blair P.M., has recently introduced legislation, which aims to teach schoolchildren how to be a good citizen, Education Act 2002 (Great Britain, Parliament, 2002 6:84 (i; ii)). More recently, the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 (Great Britain, Parliament, 2003) categorises the actions of those deemed to be a 'bad' citizen: ranging from housing; parental responsibilities; graffiti and high hedges. However, the relationship between citizenship and gender appears to have fallen by the wayside. This paper aims to explain the concept of citizenship in relation to women and their access to the welfare state. Further, it will offer an explanation as to how and why the citizenship debate has surfaced so aggressively in recent years. Finally, by focusing upon the gender limitations to citizenship clearly seen within the original Beveridge Report (see Lancaster and Rathfelder 2003) at the inception of the welfare state in 1942, we will review the case for women claiming full and equal rights of access to all benefits and welfare bestowed, thus far, upon their male counterparts. ...read more.

Middle

After achieving equal voting rights, the women's movement suffered a split and liberal and welfare feminists emerged. Liberal feminists, following the dictum of Mary Wollstonecraft 1759-1797, argued that women should be afforded the same opportunities as men: women should be treated the 'same as' men. This particular form of feminism has been accredited with the removal of barriers for women through the introduction of the several key Acts of Parliament, particularly the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts of 1975. Welfare feminists, notably Beatrice Webb (1858-1943) and Eleanor Rathbone (1872-1946), argued that the biological 'differences' of men and women should be emphasised: priority should be given to the role of women as mothers and women should be defended as they require special attention. This branch of feminism, seen as active Labour Party members, had the greatest influence on William Beveridge, as we shall see later in this paper. Welfare feminists have been accredited with the introduction of women specific welfare provision such as Well Woman clinics and universal Family Allowances: although Beatrice Webb was furious that family allowances were to originally be paid to the father of the children and not the mother. Further changes, within the feminist movement, occurred and over time, (1970's onwards) Radical Feminism came to the fore; these women claimed women lived in a 'patriarchal' society where women were both dominated and exploited by men. They believe men are able to justify this domination and exploitation of women by persuading people that it is 'natural' for men to be dominant over women and as such, sexual inequality is institutionalised. Although there are other branches of feminism (Marxist feminists - both women and men are exploited by the capitalist state. Black feminists argue for the inclusion of race and ethnicity in the whole equality debate. Functionalist feminists claim the 'structure' of society as a whole prevents full sexual equality being achieved), for the purpose of this paper, we will review Beveridge's Welfare State from the Liberal and Welfare perspective. ...read more.

Conclusion

of the male breadwinner where certain social benefits are concerned; until recently many family benefits were paid directly to the main breadwinner (normally male). The fact that women are forced to leave paid employment (and thus, gainful occupation) for long periods during childrearing has a direct effect upon their final pension rights and, as Gillian Pascall (1993) argues, 'By attaching social security to paid employment, national insurance still penalizes women for carrying out their "vital" work' (Pascall, 1993 p.120). To conclude, the criticisms made against William Beveridge by the feminist movement have, by-and-large, not been without justification for women have indeed suffered at the hands of the social insurance schemes introduced both then and now. We continue to see the assumptions and values of Beveridge being re-enacted, by both men and women today. Unequal distribution of wages between (breadwinner) man and (dependent) woman; more women in the caring professions; with an aging population we see more women taking time from paid work, fulfilling their roles as carers to their aged parents; more women in the workplace in general (although suffering at the hands of lower paid, less secure jobs) etc. The public/private debate surrounding the unequal division of labour faced by women has not, and does not look like it will be addressed in this, or future governments. Perhaps the only way forward for women achieving full equal status and therefore, full and equal rights as citizens would be the removal of 'paid employment' from the realms of, Beveridge's sphere of 'gainful occupation'. The unpaid work of women as individuals, mothers, carers and housewives must be acknowledged as being of benefit to society as a whole. To achieve this we must see more provision made for women who choose to remain in the home by, for example, having National Insurance contributions made from the central reserves thereby guaranteeing women's rights to social benefits and pensions rather than penalizing them for undertaking, as Beveridge himself put it, 'the vital unpaid service as housewives' (and mothers). ...read more.

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