#WASPI and “the woman’s place”


Today is WASPI day,when the women petitioning parliament (now well over 130,000) get their voices heard.

I was asked last night whether or not the petition misleads (thanks Cathe) and yes I think WASPI is weakened by confusion within its ranks as to what kind of outcome they are expecting from Government. There is a lot more of an ask to roll back the 1995 reforms than the 2011 amendments and a lot less involved establishing a transitional settlement that might give partial relief to those worst affected.

But I don’t think it’s weakened much because I don’t think the Government are going to give an inch, whatever is asked for. That said – I am not a politician and I don’t see the wider picture – I may be wrong.


The woman’s place

What is far more important is that we are having a debate in parliament on the importance we in society place on the contribution of women to our economy and how they should be rewarded in later life and in particular whether we have been fair to women in managing the equalisation of state pension ages.

This is a debate which is long overdue and one that we are now able to have with strong women conducting it. On the Government’s side is the Pension Minister , for the official opposition, Angela Rayner and for the SNP, Mhairi Black.

Women are now in most of the principal positions of Governmental and quasi Governmental Power. They run everything from the PLSA to the DWP (and all stops between). This is not from positive discrimination , but because we are at last giving women the right to participate that was previously forced out of men’s hands by exception. Barbara Castle and Margaret Thatcher (in very different ways) made it possible for Rayner and Altmann.


And can we doubt society is  not the better for these women in power?

“Better listeners, more emotional intelligence, a care for the outcomes of these pension schemes we manage

This is how one male friend of mine described working for a predominately female management board.

It is in the context of the current female assertion, that I view the last forty years not just as a lost opportunity for women, but a lost opportunity for men.

That men not only set the salaries , but determined the promotions and the pensions that arose, is patently a bad thing. We have denied women the right to manage and we (men) have done management jobs that women could have done better.

WASPI may be seen in retrospect as having more significance in the general context of the assertion of womanhood in management, than in the particular injustices it is highlighting.


For men – now is the time to listen and better understand.

I am very pleased we are having the debate we are having in the house of Commons today. For once, women have been granted the right to set the terms of the debate and will lead it, it is for men to listen and better understand.

The words that are being used to frame this debate – “honesty” – “compassion” and “justice” are not words that men use to any great degree. Nor are the arguments about fairness couched in the aggressive terms of male debate.

For once the debate we are having is being conducted (save for some social media exchanges) with a dignity that I find moving. I have found WASPI’s arguments more compelling for this tone and am coming to realise what an enormous opportunity has been lost,by more men not listening to women.

I am not suggesting the capitulation of the male portion of society, but I reckon it’s time we stopped blustering and started really engaging in what place we have in society relative to women – not the other way round.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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