Political parties respond to our questions #2

Monday 9 December 2019

In the run-up to Election Day on 12 December, we've been asking political parties how they plan to create an equal society for young women. To help you decide how to cast your vote, we’re bringing you their answers in a series of blogs.  

Here are the responses we received to questions about smashing career stereotypes:

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conservativesConservative party spokesperson: “We have launched a roadmap, which includes a range of measures to financially empower women at every stage of their lives, from school to retirement, such as continuing to support family friendly policies in the workplace. We are also introducing stronger protections for new parents returning to work and have published a new Code of Practice to tackle sexual harassment at work.”

labourJeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour party: “Labour will make lifelong learning a reality, giving everyone a free lifelong entitlement, making it easier for self-employed people to retrain or improve their skills. We will work with employers and employment support organisations to develop qualifications and ensure training delivers the right skills and is inclusive to women and underrepresented groups.

To open the workplace more fully to women, Labour will ensure that flexible work is available to everyone, meaning more roles to women who may have childcare or other responsibilities outside work. We will also extend paid maternity leave to 12 months (which can also be shared with a partner).

And we’ll end period poverty and the stigma still associated with the menopause by ensuring all employers have workplace policies on both. Targeted bursaries will be available to women, BAME people, care leavers and people with disabilities to encourage them to take up climate apprenticeships – the STEM of the future.”

liberal demChristine Jardine, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Women and Equalities: “Liberal Democrats believe that in the diversity of the UK should be represented in public and working life. That means that women, ethnic minority groups, LGBT+ people and disabled people should be properly represented and paid fairly. We will take action on various levels to make this a reality, including by: extending the use of name-blind recruitment processes in the public sector and encouraging their use in the private sector, improving diversity in public appointments by setting ambitious targets, which go further than targets for the private sector, and require reporting against progress with explanations when targets are not met.

Liberal Democrats are also committed to lifelong learning that gives people the power to follow the path that best suits their ability. As part of this commitment we will introduce new Skills Wallets for every adult in England, giving them £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their life, ensuring that individuals can choose how and when to spend this money on a range of approved education and training courses from providers who are regulated and monitored by the Office for Students.”

WEP logoMandu Reid, Leader of the Women’s Equality party: “The early gender stereotyping that funnels girls and boys into different career paths and values those paths very differently is one reason that equality in education is one of our seven goals. We will include gender equality in the guidelines that set out what under-5s should learn in each nation of the UK. We will introduce compulsory gender audits in schools, whether academies or state-maintained schools, to ensure they are using all opportunities to promote roles that challenge gender stereotypes.

We will work with organisations like ‘Let Toys be Toys’ and ‘Let Clothes be Clothes’ to challenge the stereotypes reinforced through gendered toys, books and clothes. We will also address inequality in and by the media, challenge the ways that men and women are portrayed in every medium, and ensure women are represented equally to men.”

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conservativesConservative party spokesperson: “We will encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to. We have reformed redundancy law so companies cannot discriminate against women immediately after returning from maternity leave.

To build on the 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, we will establish a new £1 billion fund to help create more high quality, affordable childcare, including before and after school and during the school holidays.”

labourJeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour party: “Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act but shockingly, the gender pay gap is still over 13 per cent. It will take 60 years to end at the current rate. This is totally unacceptable - we'll close the gender pay gap by 2030. Labour has more women MPs than all other parties put together – in a large party due to our All Women Shortlists – and I am proud that our shadow cabinet is gender balanced, which we'll ensure continues in government. We know audits aren’t enough so Labour will fine organisations that fail to report their gender pay and require all large employers get a certificate of gender equality, or face further fines and government action.”

liberal demChristine Jardine, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Women and Equalities: “Liberal Democrats will tackle institutional biases, promote equality and hold power to account through applying values of openness, transparency and accountability. We will take a number of steps to do this including continuing the drive for diversity in business leadership, pushing for at least 40 per cent of board members being women in FTSE 350 companies and implementing the recommendations of the Parker review to increase ethnic minority representation.

British politics needs to be reformed to make it more representative and empower citizens. To help ensure this reform, Liberal Democrats will bring into force Section 106 of the Equality Act 2010, requiring political parties to publish candidate diversity data.”

WEP logoMandu Reid, Leader of the Women’s Equality party: “Companies, public sector organisations and governments have had too long to try and redress the lack of women in senior roles through voluntary targets. While gender pay gap reporting has illuminated the problem, too many companies still hide behind each other in sectors that are particularly problematic, such as finance and engineering. We will introduce quotas for government cabinet to be 50:50 women and men, for political parties to elect more women than men for the next elections until we reach 50:50 in all parliaments, and for company boards to be 50:50 at both executive and non-executive levels.”

We'll be publishing 2 more blogs in the run up to the election, with responses from political parties on how they plan to support young women. Follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.