Records of Parity



Admin History:

Parity, an equal rights charity, was first formed in 1986 as Campaign for Equal State Pension Ages (CESPA). The name change to Parity took place in 1997 as a better reflection of their work which encompasses all aspects of state inequality for men and women. CESPA's original focus was to obtain equal state pension rights for men at the age of 60. This had arisen from a European Court ruling that while retirement ages for men and women had to be the same pension ages did not. The UK Government amended the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act in 1986 to take into account this ruling, but did not address the issue of pension age. This inspired various people to write to the press and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), leading to the formation of an action group. Geoff Alderton, David Lindsay and David Yarwood, provided a co-ordinated approach on the issue of pension age inequality and related benefits.

In July 1986 the first 'Steering Group' of five members met in London and the name of the organisation was decided. A subsequent meeting in August included discussions on the form of a constitution and the creation of a leaflet (for example see U DPY/1/1/4). CESPA's inaugural meeting was held on 29 August 1986 in Manchester Town Hall with eleven attendees where the constitution was agreed. The first meeting of the Executive Committee took place in Manchester on 30 August 1986 with a membership of 26. By the first General Meeting in April 1987 membership had reached 106 and at the first AGM in March 1988 in Manchester membership had increased to 432.

Parity is run by volunteers and receives no public funding. An alteration to the law meant that Parity were able to claim charitable status in 2005. Previously this had been denied them as they were seen as a political organisation due to their work to change the law. Parity has attracted cross party support with several members of the Houses of Commons and Lords serving on its Board. Its main objectives are the promotion and protection of the equal rights of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights under the law.

Parity's newsletter 'Update' informs its membership of its ongoing projects. These arise from the members interests in media stories and personal experiences, some of which develop into campaigns and changes to legislation.

The organisation's original aim of the equalisation of pension rights has been extended to include, most notably, prescription charges, winter fuel payments, bus travel concessions and widower's benefits. In 1995 Parity, through its member Cyril Richardson, achieved its first major success with the European Court ruling that it was unlawful to charge men aged 60-65 for prescriptions when they were free to women (for example see U DPY/4/4). In 1998 the Court ruled for Parity member John Taylor in his case against the government's denial of winter fuel payments to men aged 60-65 that women were able to receive (for example see U DPY/4/8). In 2001 equality of the payment of widower's benefits and bereavement tax allowances was achieved (for example see U DPY/4/3). Parity's campaign to allow access to free bus travel to men aged 60-65 ultimately resulted in the Travel Concessions (Eligibility) Bill being passed in 2003 (for example see U DPY/4/7).

Campaigning continues into wider social issues including those of domestic violence, boys' education and equal state funding for male and female specific diseases. Parity has worked to have the accurate reporting of the numbers of male domestic violence sufferers, notably by the Crown Prosecution Service in 2008. A conference organised by Parity in partnership with the Royal Society of Medicine in 2007 focussed on the under-achievement of boys in education, drawing together experts in this field (for example see U DPY/5/2).

Parity has worked with a number of organisations in the areas of civil liberties and where their campaigns are targeted. These include the Equal Opportunities Commission, Liberty, JUSTICE, Age Concern, National Pensioners Convention and various unions.

Collection includes minutes of meetings, newsletter (Update), subject files, correspondence, membership files, publications and supporting court and government papers. Many of the items have handwritten annotations and additions.