Anne Brock-Griggs’s pamphlet, ‘Ten Points of Fascist Policy for Women’
Anne Brock-Griggs was an early member of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), joining the movement partly in response to her disappointment with establishment conservatism. She made her name through her spirited speeches at outdoor meetings, and in recognition of her talents was appointed to BUF staff as Woman’s Propaganda Officer in 1935. Later she was to be promoted to Chief Woman’s Officer, national leader of the movement’s Women’s Division, and represented the views of women members in the Woman’s Page of party newspaper Action. The following pamphlet, ‘Women and Fascism: Ten Points of Fascist Policy for Women’ was published in 1936 as a statement on the BUF’s official stance on women’s issues – like much Mosleyite writing it has a strong focus on welfare and social reform. In 1937 Anne Brock-Griggs stood unsuccessfully as BUF candidate for Limehouse, East London, and she was active in the Peace Campaign against entry into the Second World War. Detained during the war under Defence Regulation 18B, when released she joined Mosley’s post-war Union Movement, but suffered from ill health. She died from cancer sometime in the 1960’s.
1. Women in Parliament
Women will vote according to the contribution they make to the life of the community, in the corporations to which they belong, and will be eligible to represent their corporations in Parliament.
In whatever trade or profession is in question, the women concerned will have representation. Where women predominate so may their elected representatives.
For the first time, women will be able to control their own affairs and advise on the affairs of State. A number will be represented in the Corporations as consumers, being the chief buyers of products for the family.
In the Home Corporation, women who run a home or are employed in domestic work will be represented. This will be recognised as one of the most vital corporations in the Fascist State, and will give the career of the homemaker the status of a profession.
2. Status of Women
In the machinery of the Corporate State, Fascism assures women an equal status with their men-folk, for it enables them to direct and control the conditions under which they live.
The fascist conception of individual liberty in private, and obligation in public life, gives them every opportunity they require in their future status as women citizens.
Fascism requires that women, equally with men, should offer a disciplined co-operation in the welding together of an ordered state. Fascism will lay upon all citizens of the state the duty of working in harmony, not in the interests of any section or class, but for the benefit of all its people.
3. Equal Pay for Equal Work
Fascism regards the principle of equal pay for equal work as vital to the recovery of national prosperity. Since their entry into industry women have received lower wages than men for the same work. This amounts to victimisation and, apart from the injustice to women, causes the displacement of men. Mr. H.W. Hughes of Preston, in his presidential address at the Conference of the National Union of Clerks and Administrative Workers, said: “The pin money clerk we still have with us… she does not realise that she is lowering the standard for her sister who has to live on her wage… I share with you the principle of accepting girls as office workers: I only urge them not to get there by under-cutting men or their own sister workers.”
Sweated wages for women reduce the standard of living for the whole country. This has had the effect of:
- Sending married women into industry to support their husbands who have been displaced.
- Forcing girls into immorality as the alternative to starvation.
- Undermining the health of the mothers of the next generation.
By enforcement of the axiom “Equal Pay for Equal Work,” and by raising the standard of wages throughout the country, fascism will ensure that the job goes to the best worker, man or woman, and thus end sex exploitation.
4. Trades and Professions for Women
Under Fascism women will be free to follow the career which their talents and the national need indicate. Fascism recognises the right of woman to pursue her destiny, also the need for more women in such professions as law, medicine, architecture, engineering, nursing, child care and domestic science. Not only will women be encouraged to enter the profession of their choice, but also through the Corporations they will have power to improve the conditions which prevail to-day. Better facilities will be offered for their training (i.e. in hospitals as nurses and medical students), while in the National Housing scheme, women architects and engineers will help in planning the homes and cities of the future.
Fascism is in favour of the abolition of the marriage bar in all careers; but married women will not be forced by economic reasons to work to maintain the home.
The fascist proposals with regard to the nursing profession embody a scheme whereby all nurses, midwives, including health visitors, will receive adequate training, and periodic refresher courses in local hospitals. Through a corporate organisation, nurses will obtain an 8-hour day, good food and accommodation, and a living wage while training. A national pensions scheme is suggested and a grant for post-graduate training.
Domestic workers shall be trained where possible in domestic science. Their employers can co-operate with the State to allow them sufficient free time to continue their training while working. Certificated workers would raise the standard throughout the whole of this profession, and through their corporation would ensure reasonable hours and abolish the unregulated drudgery which prevails at present.
Summarised, the Fascist principles are:
- No discrimination against a woman in her choice of career.
- Removal of sex discrimination.
- Control through Corporations.
The above indicates the scope for women in the Corporate State. The choice of career is theirs but, “out of the professional shall be born the calling.”
5. Working Conditions
Of the 24,000,000 women in England, over a quarter are engaged in paid work. This is 29 per cent. of all insured workers. Expert opinion is agreed that the safeguards at present offered to workers, especially women, are incapable of protecting life and limb. Accidents increased during 1934 by 23,600, of which 785 were fatal. The report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops records an increase in industrial disease.
In the largest group of women workers (those employed in the textile trade), wages are low and unemployment rife, and although about 70 per cent. of the operatives are organised, the unions have been unable to secure a living wage for the workers. In the catering trades, laundries, and among shop workers, long hours and bad conditions are prevalent. Office workers may work in premises which would be condemned as factories, badly lit and worse ventilated. The result is the high rate of bad health. No legislation exists to protect this type of worker.
Throughout industry far reaching reforms are due. Nearly a quarter of a century has elapsed since the Factory Acts were seriously overhauled, during which time there has been an increasing use of machinery and a speeding up of productive processes, subjecting the workers to nervous strain and physical danger. Juvenile labour is a serious problem, and it is still possible for young girls from school to be employed for long hours.
Fascism sees two main remedies. Firstly, the establishment of Corporations in industry and commerce to govern conditions and to raise the wage standards throughout the country. Secondly, the exclusion of foreign goods and foodstuffs which can be produced in this country. This will increase the demand for the products of British workers, and ensure continuity of employment for them.
Standards of lighting, ventilation, and hygiene will be raised and stringently enforced. Recreational facilities will be developed and an annual holiday with high pay will be compulsory.
The wide public demand for healthier and more humane conditions will achieve practical results by the organisation of women workers in their Industrial Corporations, through which they will be represented in Parliament.
To improve public health the principle of preventive medicine must be applied. Skilled medical attention can alleviate, but cannot prevent, a steady deterioration in the nation’s physique, while millions exist on the dole, or are on starvation wages, living in housing conditions which are odious by civilised standards.
While we have slums we shall have disease. For decades millions of our people have existed in houses which are verminous, damp, decrepit, or even rat-ridden, sometimes with sewage-polluted basements. In some areas the percentage of persons living at over three per room has even increased. In such areas the susceptibility to disease is high.
Rheumatism , tuberculosis, rickets, diphtheria, all increase with the congestion in our great cities. A similar relationship can be traced between over-crowding and a high infant death rate, which in the central wards of our cities is double that in the outer city areas.
Only the organised power of the Corporate system can successfully tackle this tremendous problem. Here the experience of women in their daily life in the home will be of the utmost value, and only through their initiative and co-operation will this great work be accomplished.
We regard as essential:
- Security of employment at a living wage for every family in the state.
- A good home.
- A sufficiency of nourishing food.
Houses and flats both have their place in the fascist scheme for slum clearance in conjunction with Town and Country Planning. True planning depends upon industry, industry depends upon transport. Our aim is to re-house workers as near as possible to the place where they are accustomed to live, at rents which they can afford. While the ideal of an individual cottage and garden is easy of achievement in the planning of rural areas, in congested metropolitan areas flats may be necessary to ensure sufficient open space for gardens and playgrounds.
Most of the legal provisions for comprehensive planning and slum clearance already exist in Acts of Parliament. These measures are permissive and the central driving force to execute them is what is lacking.
Under a Fascist government experts will formulate planning and housing schemes. Much building since the war has been by unregulated private enterprise and is of the type which will create future slums. The planned economy of the Corporate State, with power to regulate the development of new industry and building, will prevent the creation of slums, preserve rural amenities, and prevent ribbon development. Green belts of land must be preserved as well as other open spaces for the parks, playgrounds, aerodromes, and the open-air schools of the future. Provision for motor roads must be taken into account and local industry will dictate the allocation of housing sites. The essence of good planning is to preserve, by means of a dynamic organisation, a balance between the needs of urban and rural development.
People will be assisted to buy their houses by a loan guaranteed by the State In some circumstances no compensation will be granted to an owner of a property who has neglected to maintain it in good condition, should it be needed by the state. Enterprise and ownership will be encouraged within the limits of the national welfare.
In Education our motto is “begin at the beginning.” Far reaching reforms are necessary, and are closely linked with health. First comes the provision of nursery schools and the improvement of infant schools. Magnificent pioneer work has been done on a small scale by nursery schools for children aged two to five, but the time has come when the experience gained should be applied on a national scale. Children who pass into school at five suffer from many preventable defects, both mental and physical, incurred since infancy – whereas at birth 90 per cent. are free from defect. Skilled handling, opportunities for physical development, regular medical overhaul, and life in a community which are gained in an open-air nursery school, are essential aids to the physical and mental health of the child.
Transition from the nursery schools to better accommodated and modified infant schools will facilitate development up to the higher grades. Where the interests of the State demand, and the ability of the child justify, technical or university training will be provided.
9. Maternal and Infant Welfare
It is a matter of grave concern that our maternal mortality rate at 4.41 per thousand stands higher than it was twenty years ago. At least half these deaths are proved to be preventable, so that the reason for a continued high mortality rate appears to be largely due to lack of proper care. The attendance of mothers at ante-natal clinics shows an average for England of 43.07 per cent. The under-nourishment among mothers in industrial areas is responsible for a great deal of the so-called maternal morbidity. To lessen the cost in health for mothers is our problem, remembering that while in England and Wales 3,000 mothers die annually, 60,000 every year are more or less crippled. This is 10 per cent. of all those bearing children. The 1918 Maternity and Child Welfare Act is a permissive act which contains legal provisions for the finest maternity service in the world. A democratic system, however, lacks adequate machinery to ensure that the service is developed to the full.
The following remedies are proposed:
- Education of women to seek advice before the birth of their babies.
- More clinics, of a more attractive and efficient design.
- More women doctors, who may be preferred by the patient.
- Better training, pay, and hours for midwives. There are too few at present, largely because of the poor pay, and uncertain working conditions.
- More specialised training in obstetric work for doctors, who, in our opinion, should not practice in this most important branch unless qualified in a post-graduate course.
- Improvement and extension of local hospitals to provide more maternity beds, and also facilities for training doctors and midwives.
- Factory legislation enabling women to rest at least six weeks before and after childbirth.
- Convalescent homes and an extended home help service enabling mothers to recuperate fully after the birth of their babies.
The infant mortality rate has decreased in the last thirty years, corresponding to the growth of infant welfare centres. The rate in congested slums and in certain industrial areas has shown an increase recently. Here health services have done good work but economic factors have caused a regression.
Whereas the State will provide the welfare clinics necessary, there is room for development of private clinics for subscribers. Development of nursery schools will ensure the continuity of medical inspections of children from babyhood.
There must be a scheme whereby mothers and children have country holidays. Holiday camps, homes for children, and rest homes for mothers, are sorely needed; by this means we can help stamp out the scourge of tuberculosis and revitalise the town dweller with the experience of some healthy country living – and in addition she may receive some useful training.
10. The Nation’s Food Supply
The every-day task of the majority of women is to provide food for their family, therefore, it is of the greatest interest that the food they buy shall be sufficient in quantity, of good quality and reasonable price. Through neglect of home farming, less food is produced today than one hundred years ago, the balance being imported. An outstanding example is milk, of which we import as milk products, one and a half times the value of milk produced here. Yet the average weekly consumption per head is only two and a half pints. Doctors have testified to the misery in the depressed areas, and the shortage of fresh food and milk for mothers and children. It is absurd that while numbers of our population exist upon what is known as the minimum diet, on the other hand, farmers are unable to make a living. Faulty nutrition is the basis of much ill health, and there is evidence of a great lack of protective foods such as fresh milk, meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables. Sir John Orr has calculated that an adequate diet for all would mean an extra consumption annually of £200,000,000 worth of agricultural produce, all of which could be grown at home.
Under the Corporate System the better wages paid will enable the housewife to buy a sufficiency of the good fresh products of our countryside. The exclusion of foreign foodstuffs will ensure the revival of farming and a market for Empire produce.
The presence of women on Corporations as consumers will protect the interests of the housewife; and upon these important aspects of social welfare women will be enabled by corporate representation to advise and assist in carrying through the great fascist programme of social reform.
You are all agreed that many and far reaching social reforms in our country are necessary. What you have to consider, is whether Democracy has given us the power to abolish these evils. If you are not satisfied with things as they are you must consider how these reforms can be achieved.
You have now read an indication of how through the Corporate system you will have the power to carry through the reforms which are of vital importance for the welfare of the country and its people.