A Better Plan for Women’s Equality – Labour’s women’s manifesto

Friday, 17 April 2015
labour women
Six women on Labour’s frontline. Back row L-R Pat Morley, Liz Leavy, Siobhan Wilson. Front row L-R Kath Pearce, Moira Brown, Caroline Wilkins

For the last 4 years Bridgwater Labour Group has had just 1 female member. This week Labour is launching its ‘Manifesto for Women’ – setting out how Labour will enable women to fulfil their potential, as part of a plan to raise living standards for working families and nowhere is this more apparent in Bridgwater where the face of Bridgwater Labour Party is changing with more women candidates than ever in winnable seats.

Labour are standing 13 men and 11 women around Sedgemoor at these elections. One of the new female candidates Siobhan Wilson is taking over from long standing Labour stalwart Ken Richards in Bridgwater Victoria where he has retired due to ill health.

Why would Women vote for any other party?

Siobhan says;- “I can’t entirely understand why any woman would vote for any party other than Labour.

I shudder when some friends tell me they are going to vote Green, because they want all the things Labour does, but more focussed on the environment. They don’t want to be party political. Well they will be. If they vote Green they will just help the Tories stay in power and move us further away from everything they hoped for.

On a personal level, Labour’s promise to extend free childcare to 25 hours per week would make a huge financial difference to me – approaching £4000 per year. If I were solely self-interested I would vote just on that policy.

But there is also so much more that is important and only Labour can deliver:

Siobhan Wilson "I can’t entirely understand why any woman would vote for any party other than Labour."
Siobhan Wilson “I can’t entirely understand why any woman would vote for any party other than Labour.”

Our NHS is one of the best and fairest health care systems in the world and only Labour can stop the Tories selling more of it off to their rich friends so they can make more profit from it. Anyone who has children or has ever needed to use emergency services or has elderly parents or have just been unlucky enough to be ill, has to want to save it – surely?

The Bedroom Tax is unfair and divisive and Labour are committed to repealing it.

Zero hours contracts, which hit women as well as men – Labour will ban them and make work pay better. They will raise the minimum wage to £8/hr – women are often more likely to be in low paid jobs.

Ensuring that rich individuals and big corporations pay their fair share of tax – just like we all have to – who doesn’t want that?

I am genuinely curious as to why anyone who is not a millionaire would vote Tory or UKIP? Cameron and his mates represent millionaires and big tax dodging corporations and Farage is an ex banker to the right of Thatcher, not to mention all the other objectionable views he holds.

Does anyone really think that one of them would represent the working man or woman better? “

Labour Women’s Manifesto launch

Cllr Kathy Pearce is Labour’s longest serving female councillor, once led the Labour Group and also was the Parliamentary candidate. She is standing for both Town and District council in Bridgwater Westover and gathered together a group of female candidates outside Bridgwater House this week to launch the Labour Womens manifesto.

kath
“Under this Government, women have borne the brunt of the cutbacks, yet remain under-represented at all levels of government.” Cllr Kathy Pearce

Kathy says “The last Labour Government made massive steps forward in enabling women to take part in society on an equal basis – Sure Start Centres with Child and Family Tax Credits. For the first time women, who are statistically most likely to the main carers, were able to make their own choices to combine a working and family life. I know, because I was one of them. Not only did this benefit individual families – business and the economy benefitted too as vital experience was not lost in the workplace. Over the last few years Tory and Lib Dem government have turned the clock back on women’s progress and women are now worse off because of the decisions they’ve made. Women have borne the brunt of cutbacks to vital services and closure of Sure Start Centres: low income families have been forced to turn to foodbanks for the first time in living memory, whilst we are told that the economy is booming – not for many families it isn’t.

Everyone should vote Labour

It’s essential for women (and everyone) to vote Labour in this election as Labour’s women’s manifesto promises to:

• Tackle low pay, by increasing the minimum wage to more than £8 by October 2019.
• Tackle the gender pay gap with new pay transparency rules for all large em-ployers.
• Extend free childcare from 15 to 25 hours a week for working parents of three and four-year-olds with proper funding from increasing the bank levy.
• Guarantee access for parents of primary-age children to 8am-6pm wraparound childcare through primary schools.
• Protect the Sure Start budget and open up an additional 50,000 childcare places.
• Double paid paternity leave from two to four weeks, and increase pay to the equivalent of a full weeks work at the National Minimum Wage so that more families can take up their entitlements.
• Support healthy relationships by introducing age-appropriate compulsory sex and relationship education.
• Tackle violence against women and girls by appointing a new commissioner to enforce national standards on tackling domestic and sexual abuse, strengthen-ing the law and providing more stable central funding for women’s refuges and Rape Crisis Centres.

"Equal Representation  is vital if we are to reflect an honest cross-section of society" Dr Caroline Wilkins
“Equal Representation is vital if we are to reflect an honest cross-section of society” Dr Caroline Wilkins

Equality means 50:50

Dr Caroline Wilkins ,who is standing for Labour in the District ward of Wyndham and the Town ward of Fairfax East, welcomes the equal gender balance and says “I want to see 50:50 equal representation at every level of the Labour Party – in Parliament, in Europe, in the devolved nations and in local government. Equal representation and an equal voice for women within the Labour Party – from local constituency committees to the shadow cabinet table – is vital if we are to reflect an honest cross-section of society.”

You can read Labour’s ‘Manifesto for Women’ in full here.