Listening to the International Women’s Day Debate in the House of Commons. As the 450th woman elected to UK Parliament and one of 191 female MPs within this Parliament, I am pleased that in the last 100 years we have come so far. I give thanks to all those who struggled to give women the voice that we deserve – we must now champion the rights of women across the world. We must also prioritise tackling FGM and Domestic Violence against women and men.
A key point made today is that gender equality is needed for both men and women. We need to champion and promote equality for all walks of life and both women and men. Discrimination against anyone is unacceptable and to do this we must deal with the causes and not symptoms. Challenging stigmas, inspiring and encouraging women is vital alongside assisting women and men back into the workplace after having children.
More work needs to be done to tackle the causes of the gender pay gap head on. I have been campaigning for the Chancellor to address this in the budget. Additional support is needed to make it more financially attractive for small businesses to train workers re-entering the labour market after a career break of two years or more due to maternity or paternity. These workers are predominantly women who have taken a career break to raise children.
I have proposed this to the Chancellor as it would help encourage women back into employment by offering additional support to them. This, in turn, would also be a small mechanism in addressing the UK’s productivity crisis.