Last month BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour programme announced the results of a survey they had commissioned into the best place to be a woman in Great Britain. This was divided by age group and for middle-aged women, Nottingham was ranked as the worst Local Authority area in Great Britain. We were quite surprised by this result and took a closer look at the full report. The vast majority of the indicators used are generic, readily available national statistics that apply equally to men or women and do not tell us much beyond which areas are affluent and which are more deprived. This is why cities as a whole come out badly in the rankings and wealthier areas with affordable housing come out best.
Questionable inferences are made for each age group, e.g. that women ‘may prefer to live in areas with higher proportions of individuals in their age group’, that younger women ‘may prefer to live in an area where romantic prospects are high’, and that for middle-aged women ‘school quality plays a significant role’. We are fairly confident that men who are parents are equally concerned with schooling while for many women this is not even a factor on their radar. For older women, the proportion of those over 65 living alone seems to have been included as a negative factor, while we would argue that living longer and being able to stay in your own home should be seen as a positive state of affairs.
We’re disappointed that a programme like Woman’s Hour didn’t take into account some of the excellent women-specific aspects of our city. These include Nottinghamshire Police being the first force in the country to include and measure misogyny as a category for hate crime; Nottingham being a zero-tolerance city for FGM; and the vibrant women’s voluntary sector organisations and partnerships that are working hard on improving the lives of women in Nottinghamshire.
Maybe we should invite the programme-makers to visit Nottingham and find out for themselves, who’s up for that? Let us know what you think of the result.
Helen Voce, CEO Nottingham Women’s Centre