Parity (U DPY)

Background to Parity
Parity is an equal rights charity first formed in 1986 as the Campaign for Equal State Pension Ages (CESPA). CESPA’s original focus was to obtain equal state pension rights for men at the age of 60. This was extended to include prescription charges, winter fuel payments, bus travel concessions and widower’s benefits. The name change to Parity took place in 1997 as a better reflection of their work which now encompasses all aspects of state inequality for men and women.

State pensions at 60 cartoon (U DPY/4/1/13)Parity has always been run by volunteers and managed to achieve charitable status in 2005. Previously this had been denied them as they were seen as a political organisation due to their work in changing 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 campaigns arise from member’s interests in media stories and personal experiences. By using a member as a figurehead in court cases and working with other organisations it has been possible for Parity to bring about changes that have impacted on the lives of thousands of people. 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 (see U DPY/4/4). They have gone on to have many more successes which are documented in this collection.

Parity continues to campaign, now encompassing wider social issues including those of domestic violence, boys’ education and equal state funding for male and female specific diseases. They have worked to ensure 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 (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.

CESPA Update (Ref U DPY/3/1/1) Sep 1988What can the collection be used for?
This collection provides the opportunity to examine how a pressure group is able to organise itself behind a cause and then adapt to take on new challenges as they achieve success. It also provides an insight into gender history from a male perspective and shows the background to a number of social changes that have taken place that Parity has had a guiding hand in.

What records will I find in the collection?
The collection represents the campaigns and projects that Parity have been involved in and consists of minutes of meetings, newsletters (Update), subject files, correspondence, membership files, publications and supporting court and government papers.

How do I access the Collection?
The collection is available for anyone to use and has been given the unique reference number U DPY. The material has been arranged into the following five sections:

  • U DPY/1 Minutes and supporting papers of CESPA and Parity, 1975-2011
  • U DPY/2 Correspondence, 1975-2011
  • U DPY/3 Publicity, 1986-2011
  • U DPY/4 Campaigns, 1981-2011
  • U DPY/5 Conference, 1989-2008

Due to the personal and sensitive nature of some of the material certain closures have been placed on parts of this collection. Please see the paper version of this catalogue which is available in the searchroom at Hull History Centre or via our online catalogue.

Access conditions:
Access to unrestricted material will be granted to any accredited reader. However, access to some of the material in this collection is restricted, either under the terms of the Data Protection Act, or because of legal confidentiality. For any enquiries relating to conditions in which access would be allowed, please contact Archivist, Simon Wilson, at s.wilson@hull.ac.uk for further information.

Is there other relevant collections?
Further archival material relating to Parity may be held in the collections of the organisations that they worked with on various campaigns. Amongst the collections at the History Centre it is likely that related information will feature amongst the records of Liberty (formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties) [Ref U DCL] and Justice/All Souls Review [Ref U DNL]. 

The Parity website includes details of their history and ongoing campaigns.