“I am delighted to be involved in politics at a time when we are celebrating this milestone; we have come a very long way in the 100 years since the first women were given the vote, but the fact remains we have a long way to go”
It is wonderful to have this opportunity to celebrate the tremendous courage of those brave women who fought so hard for change, and to look at what we have achieved over the past 100 years. In the June 2017 election, the highest proportion of female MPs ever were elected, and just last week MPs voted to modernise our voting system in support of baby leave for politicians; of course, this will help all new parents, but this will be an especially big help for new mothers.
At present, many senior political jobs belong to women, this is an achievement, regardless of their politics. We have a female Prime Minister, a female First Minister, a female leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, and within the Labour party we are very proud to have a gender equal Shadow Cabinet. Every week I have the pleasure of sitting behind some fantastic women on the Shadow Front Bench: Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner and Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, to name but a few.
But we must also look to the battles that are still being fought, and the barriers that are yet to be overcome. Labour are now taking the next step for gender equality
Many of my female colleagues face unacceptable levels of harassment in the online and offline worlds, violence against women and girls continues to be a global epidemic; global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their life time.
Despite it being the highest proportion on record, still only 32% of MPs are women, and only ¼ of the Cabinet is female. All chancellors to date have been men, and a Directory of Social Change 2017/18 report found that only 4% of companies surveyed had boards with 50% or more women. Research published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies yesterday warns that the average hourly wage for women in Britain remains 20 percent lower than for men. It is clear we have a long way to go.
Our challenge now must be to build on past achievements and push for full equality and protection for women: financially, in the workplace, in families and homes and in public spaces. I am proud to be taking the next step with my Labour colleagues – we will be making sure every woman in this country has their voice heard. We won’t stop until women are fully represented, in our policies and in our Parliament. Only then can we truly build a Britain for the many.
“I am delighted to be involved in politics at a time when we are celebrating this milestone; we have come a very long way in the 100 years since the first women were given the vote. But we must also look to the battles that are still being fought, and the barriers that are yet to be overcome”