When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, they may have also knocked the country back a decade or two when it comes to gender equality.
The study examined discussion topics surrounding Brexit and the country’s voting records in the Council of the European Union. Researchers found that pretty much all of the discussion has been centred around trade. Noticeably absent? Talks about women’s rights. There was also a vote against amendments to the European Withdrawal Bill that would make sure equal rights weren’t taken away under the 2010 Equality Act.
Combined, those issues led researchers to conclude that gender equality won’t be a topic of discussion, or if it is, the policies will be significantly weaker.
And it's not like the United Kingdom was doing so great beforehand when it came to women’s rights. The UK once resisted the EU's Pregnant Workers Directive on the basis that it would end up costing employers too much money.
"Women's reproductive rights are particularly vulnerable to attack," University of Surrey researcher Roberta Guerrina noted. "As business production remains more valued than reproduction, the interests of business are likely to trump other fundamental principles such as equality in the workplace."
The researchers argue that without the bare minimum standards that they have to uphold for gender equality as part of the EU, the status quo will remain and women will suffer for it.