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The Fawcett Society is an organisation in the United Kingdom that campaigns for women's rights. The organisation's roots date back to 1866, when Millicent Garrett Fawcett dedicated her life to the peaceful campaign for women's suffrage.
It is a charity registered with the Charity Commission and has a membership of around 3,000 alongside some high-profile supporters such as Jenni Murray, Bill Bailey, Kate Mosse, Josie Long and Patrick Stewart.
The organisation states that it campaigns on "women’s representation in politics and public life; pay, pensions and poverty; valuing caring work; and the treatment of women in the justice system". It uses "independent research and evidence to better understand key issues and generate media coverage, reports and briefings that both increase awareness and put pressure on powerful policy and decision makers to act."
The library and archives of the Society, formerly the Fawcett Library, are now part of the Women's Library at the British Library of Political and Economic Science, the main library of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Board of Trustees
The society's work is overseen by a board of Trustees. The current Chair is Belinda Phipps. Trustees have included:
The Fawcett Society filed papers with the High Court seeking a judicial review of the government's 2010 budget, contending that the Treasury did not fully assess the impact that budget cuts would affect different groups, as is required by law. An analysis of the budget found that women would be paying around £5.8 billion of the £8 billion of savings planned. Their judicial review was denied.
Gender pay gap
The Society has been criticised by business groups for comparing average pay for full-time men with average-pay for part-time women to highlight the disparity, and a lack of transparency in making their methodology clear.
The Fawcett Society has taken this criticism on board and their 2015 Gender Pay Gap methodology has been visibly shared along with their reasoning behind using the average. The 2015 pay gap they quoted was for full-time employees.
T-Shirt and controversy
In October 2014, the Fawcett Society in association with Elle UK and the high street chain Whistles produced a new version of the society's "This Is What a Feminist Looks Like" T-shirt. A number of politicians were persuaded to wear the shirt in public, including Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg for promotional photographs and Harriet Harman during Prime Minister's Questions. Prime Minister David Cameron reportedly declined to wear the shirt.
In November 2014 it was revealed that the £45 shirt in question was produced in a Mauritian factory where it was believed migrant workers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India and Vietnam were paid less than a pound a day, slept 16 to a room, and otherwise kept in sweatshop conditions. The Fawcett Society responded with a press release stating, "We remain confident that we took every practicable and reasonable step to ensure that the range would be ethically produced and await a fuller understanding of the circumstances under which the garments were produced." Fawcett were assured by Whistles that their suppliers were "a fully audited, socially and ethical compliant factory which has the following accreditations".
The Fawcett Society no longer has any connection to this manufacturer and their clothing range is sourced ethically.
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- "'This is what a feminist looks like t-shirt': Fawcett Society Response". Fawcett Society. 2014-11-01. Archived from the original on 2014-11-05. Retrieved 2014-11-02.