Struggling with perimenopause*?
Guess what, the government doesn’t have your back!
This is my HRT. You will have to prise it out of my cold dead hands
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Not exactly a shocker I know, but this week the government spelt out what many of us have suspected all along: if you’re a woman over 40, give or take a few years – whatever your race, class or sexual identity – they’d prefer it if you could just toddle along and stop clogging up the workplace.
On Tuesday, the long awaited response to the cross-party Women and Equalities Committee Report on Menopause and the Workplace (three months overdue and counting) crawled into the light, with all the enthusiasm of a perimenopausal woman greeting the alarm after a sleepless night of panic attacks and night sweats. In fact, probably less.
I’m not going to go into all the ins and outs of the response here, because others have done that already and doubtless better and far more thoroughly than I could. (If you're interested, you can find more info (paywall free) at Guardian (Opens in a new window), BBC (Opens in a new window), HR Review (Opens in a new window), and if you want to read the full report you're a better woman than I am, but you can download it here (Opens in a new window).) In a nutshell, though, the report wasn’t exactly radical to start with. The committee simply spoke to a lot of perimenopausal women and a lot of experts and then wrote up findings that called for menopause to be made a “protected characteristic” under the Equality Act. What that boils down to is making it illegal to discriminate against, like age, disability and race amongst others.
Despite what committee chair Conservative MP Caroline Nokes described as “significant evidence base” to justify it, the government rejected this recommendation using an argument many women are all too familiar with: #ButWhatAboutTheMen. Such classification, the official response said, may result in, “Unintended consequences which may inadvertently create new forms of discrimination, for example, discrimination risks towards men suffering from long-term medical conditions”.