Brexit or Bremain: What Does It Mean For Women?

With days to go until the EU referendum, female voters might just decide the result, with one million more British women than men eligible to vote.
However, research has also found that we are nearly twice as likely to be unsure which side to back. With this in mind, we look at what a Vote Leave or Vote Remain on Thursday could mean for women.

Women in business

Women IN is a network of Britain’s most successful women, including w&h columnist Karren Brady and Kelly Hoppen, who back the case for staying in the EU. “Those of us who are businesswomen have seen how free trade agreements have enabled businesses to crack new markets, how regulation has been aligned to allow us to operate across Europe and how travel round the continent has been made quicker, easier and cheaper,” they have said. And at the recent launch of the 2016 NatWest everywoman Awards, leading female entrepreneurs were polled on their views – 75% want to remain in the EU. Meanwhile, Women for Britain is campaigning for a Leave vote.
Co-chair Anna Firth has said that a Brexit would mean “businesses would flourish producing more jobs, more investment and more wealth.


w&h columnist Karren Brady is backing the Bremain campaign

Women in the workplace

The EU Gender Equality Recast Directive prevents discrimination on the grounds of sex in relation to pay. The EU also protects maternity rights, improving health and safety for pregnant workers and outlining minimum requirements for parental leave. “The European Union… guarantees maternity and paternity rights; it guarantees paid holidays; you can’t be forced to work more than a set number of hours; it protects pensions. I think these are gains of European Union membership that it’s really worth holding on to,” says Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

On the flipside, Leavers claim that workers’ rights wouldn’t change were Britain to exit. It has been argued that UK law is “more generous than EU law”
with maternity pay lasting for 39 weeks compared with 14 weeks provided under EU law. UK maternity leave may also be taken for up to 52 weeks, while EU law only allows a period of four months. “Women’s rights over the decades have been more protected and have been more progressive in the United Kingdom . . . If you look at any of the rights which we have, they either started here or are actually better here,” argues Labour MP Gisela Stuart.

What do you think? Should Britain stay or leave? Let us know in the comments below.