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UK State Party’s Obligations to 50s Women

International Women’s Day theme hits a nerve for 50s Women

By Kris Gibson CEDAWinLAW team @KrisGibson13

This International Women’s Day, on 8 March 2023, which is on the

theme of “Embrace Equity,” is a time for UK Parliament to finally address the

 grievances of UK women born in the 1950s. These are women who had the

 legitimate expectation to receive their UK State Pension at the age of sixty,

only to find at a very late stage that the government had delayed their


This occurred in two separate age hikes, firstly to retire at 65, the same age at

which men are entitled to their State Pension.  Subsequently the increases for

women were accelerated and yet another year was added for both women

and men to bring retirement age to 66 for all.

Had the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of

Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), signed in 1981 and ratified in the UK

in 1986, been properly implemented into domestic law instead of languishing

for 40 years, the 51% majority of women in the UK would be in a far

better position by now, in terms of both equality and equity. In addition, the

pension reforms would have been brought about in a very different way.

The Politicisation of women

Here in the UK, CEDAWinLAW Home | @CEDAWinLAW came into being. This

was as a result of the politicisation of women facing adversity, to fight the

inequalities, on behalf of all women and girls, which led to the injustice that

50s Women have suffered. As part of this effort, CEDAWinLAW contributed to

the Independent Civil Society report on economic, social and cultural rights by

Just Fair, about to be presented to the UN.

Submission to UN Committee on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (

@JustFairUK, speaking about the report, calls it a “damning indictment of the

UK’s deepening levels of inequality and Human Rights record. Our rights are in

crisis, and action is desperately needed.”

CEDAWinLAW Judge’s report finds Direct Discrimination

The big news from CEDAWinLAW over the past few months has been

that a second CEDAW People’s Tribunal was held in July 2022, this

time focussing solely on 50s Women:

“To Examine the Effect of the State Pension Age on 1950s Born

Women, Legal Rights and Wrongs: The Need for Redress”

The world renowned the Hon Dr Jocelynne Scutt AO presided over

the tribunal and her landmark report, which found Direct

Discrimination against 50s Women, was delivered to 10 Downing

Street in November 2022. It has since been shared widely with

Parliamentarians, Mainstream Media and other interested parties

both across the UK and the United Nations.

Dr Scutt concludes in her report that:

“The singling out of 1950s born women to bear the full brunt of the

“equalisation” plan raising State Pension Age Accrual from 60 to 65

for women is irrefutably discrimination against 1950s born women

on grounds of age, sex and potentially marital status”

She also explains that:

“The proposition here (State Pension Age increases) was that this

was an “equalising” measure – yet it ignored equalities principles”

“This measure was and remains one of substantive inequality

imposed upon 1950s born women”

The report calls for the only legal, ethical and moral redress for 50s

Women, which is Full Restitution.

New Cross-Party Parliamentary group addresses Direct Discrimination

The even bigger news, just in time for International Women’s Day, is

that a cross-party group of Parliamentarians chaired by Sir George

Howarth has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Link to letter here

The letter refers to the Direct Discrimination found by the Hon Dr

Jocelynne Scutt AO in the Judge’s report out of CEDAWinLAW

People’s Tribunal and that the report also quashed the “Wednesbury

Unreasonableness” of the earlier Supreme Court’s “out of time”


The cross-party group expresses support for a compensation

settlement. They have approached Government to put forward an

urgent request for Dr Scutt and members of the cross-party group to

join the anticipated Alternative Dispute Resolution process out of

Bindman’s LLP Judicial Review and/or to set up such a similar

process, in due haste.

The cross-party group also refers to the three Early Day

Motions 2296, 906 and 430 which evidence the Parliamentary will to

settle this injustice, where law and honour is clearly on the side of 50s


Dr Scutt quashes Supreme Court refusal to hear BackTo60’s Judicial Review

50s Women were determined that they would have their day in

Court. The CEDAWinLAW People’s Tribunal came about following

BackTo60’s Judicial Review of State Pension Age changes. It was supported

by women from across many campaign groups both in hope of a

swift resolution and in the form of financial contributions to crowd-

funding. The case progressed all the way to the steps of the Supreme

Court, with the appeal allowed on all substantive grounds argued

(including direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of both

age and sex/gender). At this stage, in 2019, it was savagely denied

even a hearing in a one-line, unexplained rejection on the basis of

being “out of time”, despite an earlier ruling in the High Court by

Lady Justice Lang that it was not.

Why would the Supreme Court not provide any explanation for its

decision? We have it on very good authority from an impeccable

source that the Supreme Court did not want to have to intervene in

the matter.

This decision by the Supreme Court was described at the time as

“paper thin” by Michael Mansfield KC and has now been “forensically

disembowelled” and quashed by Dr Scutt in her report.

The Prime Minister has the power to overturn a decision made by

the Supreme Court and a petition calling for this has over 12,300

signatures to date.


CEDAWinLAW fights for improved rights for all women and girls

CEDAWinLAW is taking every opportunity to be involved in initiatives

both within the UK and across the United Nations that will both

challenge UK Parliament on the impact of policies on 50s Women

and improve the rights of women and girls in future generations.

These include:

  • Making a submission to the UN CEDAW Committee including

the new evidence of direct discrimination against 50s Women in the

Judge’s report. The Committee is currently reviewing progress by the

UK Government against recommendations made in the 8th Periodic

review in March 2019, including this:

“To take effective measures to ensure that the increase in the State

Pension Age (SPA) from 60 - 66 does NOT have a discriminatory

impact on women born in the 1950s”

  • CEDAWinLaw also contributed in March 2021 submission by

Just Fair to the UN Independent Expert on the human rights of older

persons, who was seeking input for a thematic report on the human

rights of older women. We are also supporting the launch on 1 March

2023 of a global rally calling for a new UN convention so that older

people can “Age with Rights.”

Link to Submission-to-Independent-Expert-on-the-human-rights-of-older-persons-Just-Fair-WBG-Backto60-and-NPC.pdf (

The Just Fair submission recognised the pension injustice in the UK and called for gender-responsive pension reforms




  • More recently, in Feb 2023, CEDAWinLAW made a written

submission to the UN CEDAW Committee General Discussion on the

 development of a new General Recommendation, (GR40) on “Women’s

 Leadership in Decision-Making Systems”.

Link to 1964th Meeting, 84th Session, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) | UN Web TV


Had CEDAW already been fully implemented into domestic law and

had each of these different initiatives been in place back in the late

twentieth century, life would have been very different for 50s

Women. The development of GR40 is key for the future. We will never achieve

 real change until women are properly represented in leadership and decision-


Intersectional impact of age and sex/gender denies equity

In every crisis, women inevitably suffer a disproportionate impact,

whether it be a financial crash, austerity measures, a pandemic,

Brexit, the climate crisis or an attack on everyone’s Human Rights.

Similarly, older people experience disproportionate violations of

economic, social and cultural rights. A recent comment

from the Public Relations industry suggested that ageism is

becoming almost as prevalent as sexism.

So imagine being older AND female!

In particular, imagine being one of the 50s Women, subjected by

successive Governments to a six-year increase in State Pension

Age over just four and a half birth years (May 1950 to Dec 1954),

with no consultation, no impact assessment (particularly of the

gender-sensitive kind), no timely personal notification and according

to highly paid (by the taxpayers) Government lawyers, no right to

fairness! This huge change in the social contract left 3.8m 50s

Women, and them alone, “grotesquely disadvantaged” as former

Work & Pensions Committee Chair Frank Field put it in 2016, and

pushed many into poverty in old age. This followed a well-

documented lifetime of discrimination and inequality.

How can a group of women argue against or complain about a policy that they

know nothing about and have not been consulted upon?

Equity is the means to get to equality

State pension Age equalisation was brought about according to Government

Ministers, “in the interests of equality.” Returning to the theme for IWD 2023,

“Embrace Equity”, the point being made is that true equality can only be

 brought about if equity is already in place. This was certainly not the case for

50s Women.

As Prof Catherine MacKinnon commented in advice to @Right2Equality:

“Power in Parliament and the legal system is concentrated in the

hands of largely privileged, white men, whose experiences are

reflected in the law, leaving women and girls suffering invisibly on

our statute books”

IWD 2023 An auspicious day for 50s Women

International Women’s Day will prove to be an auspicious day for

CEDAWinLAW and 50s Women.

  • On 8 March 50s Women from across the campaign groups will be

holding a rally in Parliament Square to protest about the lack of any

resolution to their complaints about the State Pension Age increases.

  • On that same day, there are two more events of significance as far

as CEDAWinLAW is concerned:

  • The Hon Dr Jocelynne Scutt AO will be holding her third

Women’s Parliament, livestreamed from the Guildhall in Cambridge,

on the topics of Women’s Health, Women’s Bodies, Women’s

Security and Women’s Rights.

  • She will then make an exclusive presentation of her landmark

report, “To Examine the Effect of the State Pension Age on 1950s

Born Women, Legal Rights and Wrongs: The Need for Redress,”

which found Direct Discrimination against 50s Women, to invited

guests at the House of Commons. The audience will include the All-

Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality for Women.

Increasing numbers of MPs, many of whom signed Early Day Motions

2296, 906 and 430 recognising the discrimination 50s Women

suffered, having seen the Judge’s report are supporting the call for

full restitution.

It is time for Parliament to meet its obligations to 50s Women

It is worthy of note that Lady Hale, retired President of the Supreme

Court, pointed out that:

“The fundamental principles of equal treatment cannot depend

upon how much money happens to be available in the public coffers

at any one particular time…. That argument would not avail a private

employer and it should not avail the State”


Nor should anyone attempt to set distinct groups within society

against one another, especially in cases in which clear discrimination

has occurred and International Law has been broken.

The final word must go to The Hon Dr Jocelynne Scutt AO, who

concludes her report with:


“Government and Parliament have a responsibility to face up to the

grave wrong done. There is no room for obfuscation or quibbling.

Historical discrimination requires relief. There is a moral imperative

to right this wrong. The law is on the side of the 1950s born women.

1950s born women alone are the group targeted. This is a debt of

law and honour.

Full restitution is the only proper legal, ethical and moral outcome.

Full restitution must be honoured”


Kris Gibson CEDAWinLAW team @KrisGibson13

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