At the last Migrant Voice network meeting in London, Don Flynn, Director of Migrants’ Rights Network, revealed a startling statistic: under the Government’s new 35K threshold for non-EU migrants to settle in the UK, 7 out of 10 of those who will be affected, are women.
The new rules, which will come into effect in April, mean that migrants on Tier2 skilled visas will no longer be eligible for settlement after 5 years working in the UK, unless they earn £35,000, and will have to leave the country.
As with many other policies, design and implementation blindside and sideswipe women, leaving them worse off, not on a level playing field and without a fighting chance – and it all occurs subtly.
Those most affected by this law change will be university graduates, professionals, nurses (many of whom are African and Filipino), doctors (of various Asian origins) and entrepreneurs (the fastest growing segment of whom are second generation immigrants). The unifying factor is that many of these fields are disproportionately filled with women. Nurses are temporarily exempted, after protests from the healthcare sector last year, but this could change at any time.
Intersectionality is the theory that social statuses, such as race, gender and class are interconnected and through overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage, compound the oppressions people experience.
If ever there was an opportunity to capitalise on intersectionality, this is it, as the £35 income threshold issue affects immigrant women across the spectrum of race, nationality and socio-economic class. Rich, white women will also be indirectly affected in the circumstances where they rely on immigrants who provide services they routinely use, such as health care, child-minding and nannies.
Here is an issue that front and centre affects women across the board and to date, there has not been so much as a squeak from the various women’s groups and activists. What are these various groups waiting for? Must women’s rights, abolitionist activist, Sojourner Truth come back from the dead and provide them with the leadership that is now so desperately needed on this most vital of modern-day issues?
N. N. D. is Producer/Presenter of "The Workplace" - a radio progamme about how to get into, get along and get ahead at work, on Resonance 104.4FM. She tweets at @nndwrites