Tag Archives: equality

More women in elected office will help tackle harassment and bad behaviour

Women have faced sexual exploitation and harassment since time immemorial. But today, something different is happening. Sex pests, gropers, untamed rapists, physical and mental abusers are being ‘outed’ and exposed by media outlets as they are named and shamed.

So, Michael Fallon has fallen on his sword. If all of the gossip is to be believed, then more will follow. It brings not only the individual into disrepute, but the system too, that allows those individuals to behave as they do, with impunity.

He says his behaviour of ten years ago is not acceptable today. I have news for him. It wasn’t acceptable then, either.

The abuse of women is a deep seated problem in our politics and our society. It is no wonder that so few women choose to stand for elected office at any level, as a recent report by the Fawcett Society pointed out.

Parliament, the centre of law making designed to protect the innocent, the young, the vulnerable from sexual  abuse, has shown itself incapable of protecting those within its own walls. The Westminster Village, where power and access to power seems able to protect perpetrators and where  party whips seemingly refuse to take action to curtail inappropriate and sometimes criminal, behaviour, has to change.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 13 Comments

The Fight for Equality Goes On!

I have been inspired by Paul Walter’s excellent series on this site for Black History Month. If you have as well, I encourage you to write a blog for Black History Month and send it in.

American by birth, I am guilty of unconscious bias which permeated through my upbringing. Many people don’t recognise the racism which lies beneath the surface in the way they relate to one other. Of course overt acts of racism make the news, but it is the little interactions and assumptions which bother me, as they are …

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Visibility of Women (or lack thereof)

‘Their heads are full of cotton hay and rags’, according to Prof Higgins.

Walk in any British city or town and see if, as you walk, there are any commemorative works of art. War memorials you will almost certainly see. Royalty you will almost certainly see. Famous men you will almost certainly see.

Then, look to see how many women are commemorated. Queen Victoria and the Virgin Mary apart, few places have statuary of real women.

The statue of Millicent Fawcett, which will shortly be sited in Parliament Square, is, therefore, highly unusual and hugely significant. Of some 925 commemorative pieces in Britain, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments

The Fight for LGBT+ Rights: An Unfinished Rainbow?


This past weekend, Kiev, Ukraine hosted the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, an event referred to by some as ‘Gay Christmas’, with the theme ‘Celebrate Diversity’. In celebration of this theme, the Friendship of Nations Arch was to be redecorated to form a rainbow as a symbol of equality. Unfortunately, due to protests from far-right groups, the arch was never fully covered in a rainbow, and yet somehow has become, I feel the most poignant and apt depiction of the state of Equality in our society.

On one side, the one facing the city of Kiev, the rainbow is about half complete, the bare steel a reminder of the distance left to travel. On the other side, less visible, there is much less rainbow and much more steel, a great reminder that under the surface there is much further to go, with many people here in the UK still suffering from Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia at home, at work and in the street.



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Come to the future women MPs weekend!

The Campaign for Gender Balance (CGB) and the Diversity & Talent Support Team are pleased to announce that this year’s Future Women MPs Weekend will be held on Saturday 4 – Sunday 5 March 2017 at the Jurys Inn Hotel in Milton Keynes.

Future Women MPs weekend is an intensive residential training weekend for any aspiring female MPs within the party; whether you are already an approved candidate or are yet to take that initial first step, this is the perfect way to kick start your journey to Westminster. Jo Swinson, Tessa Munt and Jenny Willott all started their successful quests for a seat in Parliament at a FWMPs Weekend, and so could you!

As well as expert advice on your political career you will also receive:

  • Information and advice on all aspects of the process from selection to standing for Parliament
  • Personalised advice and guidance from top party trainers and representatives
  • A chance to ask any burning questions and address any concerns you may have
  • A fantastic opportunity to network and make useful contacts with other aspiring women within the party
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Baroness Celia Thomas writes…Disability rights and Labour wrongs

Who would have thought that a valuable addition to the Licensing Act which would have made life better for disabled people had been scuppered by Labour Peers?  And yet that is what happened on Wednesday evening.

The amendment, which sought to improve the accessibility of licensed entertainment premises (pubs, clubs, restaurants etc.) for disabled people, was tabled by the Chair of the Lords Equality and Disability Committee, Baroness Deech, a crossbencher, and signed by me, as Liberal Democrat Disability Spokesperson, a Labour Peer and another crossbencher.

The Committee, which was set up last year at my suggestion, to look at how the Equality Act was working for disabled people, took evidence from, amongst many others, local authorities and from the National Association of Licence and Enforcement Officers. They were keen to help make premises more accessible but said they needed a small addition to the licensing objectives in the Licensing Act to be able to take action. Without the amendment, a licensing authority can only ‘suggest’ the provision of a ramp, for example, or that a restaurant should not store toilet rolls in the disabled toilet thus making it unusable.  With the amendment, the licensee would be told that if no reasonable adjustments were made, the licence would be in danger of being lost.  

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Maria Munir chosen as Girls’ Champion for BBC’s 100 Women

Lib Dem member Maria Munir, from Watford, won widespread global respect and admiration when they came out as non binary to President Obama at a town hall meeting in April this year. Let’s remind ourselves of that moment:

They spoke to the BBC here about their experience:

I just felt this moment of euphoria that finally I would be able to raise and highlight the issue that non-binary transgender people face.

If anyone has the power to change things for people like myself across the world, it is President Obama.”

Maria said their family history made the situation even more poignant.

“I started to feel the tears well up. My parents are immigrants. My granddad did manual labour in Pakistan. My dad worked as a manual labourer in Saudi Arabia before coming here to start a business with literally nothing.
“For me, aged 20, to be sat in front of the President of the United States, leader of the free world, to be able to pitch to him social action…

Maria has now been named as one of eight Girls’ Champion as part of the BBC’s 100 Women series. They will be able to use their voice to highlight issues that affect girls and non binary and transgender people.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments
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