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.
@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.
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
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.
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 (justfair.org.uk)
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”.
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
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
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