Election 2010: And what about the women?
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What about women and Labour


consider themselves to be the party of equality and believe they have made great strides for the wearers of heels, but have they really?

Leader Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah, 46, is a keen supporter of both her husband and his party. The mum-of-two has more than 1million Twitter followers (@SarahBrown10) and is respected as a serious member of the Labor team. She was a hit at the 2009 Party Conference when she introduced the Prime Minister, 59, as “my husband, my hero” and she's been credited with affording this ‘big beast’ of British politics a more human face. 

She's not the only respected female Labor team-player, the party has fielded all-girl shortlists in stronghold areas to get more women through the doors of the Palace of Westminster.

There are a few women in top jobs in the cabinet but the party does seem committed to making sure that continues. Deputy Leader of the Party and minister for women and equality, Harriet Harman is joined by Tessa Jowell minister for the Cabinet Office, and for the Olympics and Paymaster General and Yvette Cooper Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. 

Harriet said: “Labor is immensely proud of our record on helping women and families. As a government we’ve listened to women and tried to put their concerns at the heart of everything we have done.

“From offering more choice and help with balancing caring for their family with earning a living to toughening up the law and changing attitudes on violence against women, the progressive policy decisions we have taken over the last 13 years have made a difference to millions of women’s lives.”

The key Labor manifesto proposals for women include:

•    Changes in maternity and paternity leave to allow parents to share a year off.
•    Extended nursery places in areas of need and an increase in the Sure Start scheme.
•    Improving pension provision for women who took time off for childcare.
•    Enforcing the Equality Bill to tackle the gender pay gap.

The expert's view

Fawcett's Ceri Goddard says, "It's a shame that Labor has failed to follow up on some of the progress of the last 13 years. There seems to be no vision to build on steps like the minimum wage, all women short-lists and flexible working to take the next step towards equality.

"Labor’s commitment to implement the Speaker’s recommendations to address underrepresentation are welcome."

What do women voters say?
Jo Middleton, 32, writer and single parent from Somerset, said: “The tax credit system, although troublesome for many, has prevented me from falling into any kind of benefit trap. Financial help towards childcare particularly has made working a viable option at last for all parents.”

Viki added: “I support the proposals for paternity leave as my husband gave up his job and had to take almost a year unpaid leave to care for our younger son due to our financial situation.”


Women in Focus Editor
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