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The MU is supporting the Make Misogyny History campaign – this blog has been released to mark the first of UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

The Covid-19 epidemic has had a devastating effect on all of our members and the MU have been working tirelessly to ensure that no member is left behind, put at risk and that members can return to work safely as soon as is possible.

Throughout all our work during the pandemic we have ensured that women and other marginalised communities are at the centre of what we are doing.

The fallout from Covid-19 has and will continue to have a disproportionate impact on the working lives of women. Anxiety about financial insecurity, future job prospects and lack of available and affordable childcare are just some of the issues that are damaging women’s wellbeing and their ability to work.

The MU will be doubling down our efforts to make sure that when the music industry can reopen the pandemic isn’t used as an excuse to restrict or rollback the progress we’ve made on equality for women and other marginalised communities.

Online sexual harassment has thrived during the pandemic

A priority for the MU is ensuring safe workplaces (when we can get back to work!) for women. We have already established work to prevent sexual harassment, support those who experience sexual harassment and campaign for changes in legislation to better protect our members but as always, there is still lots to do!

Lockdown gave many organisations the opportunity to review their policies and look at how they deal with sexual harassment, the MU helped a group of venues in Liverpool access Good Night Out training and we’ve spoken to many organisations about what more they can do to prevent and deal with the issue.

You would think that given most workplaces have been closed for the majority of the year, sexual harassment may have died out. But reports have confirmed that online sexual harassment has thrived during the pandemic and freelancers are particularly vulnerable, because of power imbalances, no employer or HR department to report it to and because fear of speaking out and potentially losing their job, makes it even harder to report.

The Law Comission have recently recommended that hate crime legislation, which currently covers race, religion, trans identity, sexual orientation and disability is extended to include sex and gender.

Protected characteristics must be treated in the same way

Currently when it comes to hate crime, sex or gender are not protected. This means that when women get abuse, threats, or physical harm, that is motivated by the fact they are women, it is not dealt with as a hate crime.

This sends the wrong message, that misogyny is not as important as other hate crimes, that it does not have the same impact on survivors and trivialises women’s experiences of being harassed. Current legislation also fails to recognise that misogyny intersects with other discriminatory behaviours such as racism, ableism, and homophobia.

Graphic of women holding a loudspeaker from a smartphone
Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation that’s been perpetuated for decades. It’s pervasive, but it’s not inevitable, unless we stay silent. Speak out, #orangetheworld & break the cycle of abuse during #16Days of Activism!

We need to ensure that all protected characteristics are treated in the same way, and that women are afforded the same hate crime protections as other groups in society who experience it.

Misogyny fuels sexual harassment and makes workplaces unsafe for our members. A change in legislation would support the MU’s work on ending sexual harassment and help create workplaces where women can work safely without the fear of sexual harassment and mean that those who abuse women due to their sex or gender would face tougher sentences.

Misogyny limits the opportunities available to women

We know the impact misogyny has on our members; through the reports we receive via Safe Space.

It stops women accepting jobs, it stops women speaking out and it limits the opportunities available to women. Allowing low level sexism and misogyny to thrive breeds a culture were sexual harassment is tolerated. Recognising misogyny as part of hate crime legislation will help us prevent offences including sexual harassment, assault, and abuse.

The MU have signed up as supporters of the “Make Misogyny History Campaign” You can find out more about the campaign and sign up for updates on the campaign website.

Take part in the #16 Days

November 25 is the International Day to End Violence Against Women. It’s also the start of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence project, spearheaded by UN Women, with the goal of eradicating gender-based violence.

Take action now:

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Joining a network that you identify with ensures that our work represents you. Play a vital role in shaping our services, policies and campaigns.

Women members can sign up through the communication preferences page to receive occasional updates and be notified about opportunities to get involved.

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Thanks to

Naomi Pohl

Naomi Pohl is Deputy General Secretary at the Musicians’ Union. She has worked in the arts sector in the UK for nearly 20 years representing creators and performers. Since joining the MU in 2009, she has championed the rights of musicians, songwriters and composers working across TV and film, the recorded music industry, in education, orchestras and theatre. Naomi is currently involved in a high profile campaign for improved streaming royalties for performers (#FixStreaming) in conjunction with The Ivors Academy. Since the #MeToo movement started Naomi has been leading the Union’s SafeSpace service and the Union’s campaign to tackle sexual harassment in the music industry.

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