Tag Archives: international women’s day

Liberal Democrats celebrate International Women’s Day

Last week there was a debate in the House of Commons on the subject: International Women’s Day: Language in Politics. The actual text of the motion was:

That this House has considered the use of language in politics in light of International Women’s Day; agrees that the respectful use of language is an important feature of a strong and inclusive democracy; and calls on all parliamentary candidates to pledge that respectful language will be used at all times in the upcoming General Election campaigning period.

Following the opening speech by Dame Maria Miller, Wera Hobhouse asked this question:

The right hon. Lady has mentioned online platforms and a form of responsibility, but does she believe that Parliament itself should take more responsibility for the barriers that women are facing, or citing as their reasons for not entering Parliament, and for the language that we use here? What might that responsibility look like?

She later said:

We are hearing terrible things in this discussion about banter. People say things are just banter, but banter can be very offensive. We should not be intimidated by people who say that we cannot take banter. It is important that people realise that some banter is offensive.

Christine Jardine made these points:

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Daisy Cooper, Layla Moran and Kath Pinnock in Women in Westminster 100

Two Lib Dem MPs and a Peer have made it into Politics Home’s Women in Westminster 100 for 2024.  The list is made up of prominent women in Parliament and political media.

Daisy Cooper, Layla Moran and Federal Campaigns and Elections Committee Chair Baroness Kath Pinnock are all mentioned.

Daisy Cooper “brings the single-,minded focus of a seasoned campaigner to the Liberal Democrats.” Her citation sets out her campaigning career prior to becoming an MP, working for organisations such as More United, Hacked Off and for human and LGBT rights internationally.

Layla’s personal experience of the terrifying and heartbreaking situation in Gaza is mentioned:

With members of her own family caught up in the war between Israel and Hamas, Moran has found herself at the forefront of public discussions about the conflict. It is not a subject she has shied away from, speaking with compassion, authenticity and depth of understanding about the complexities of the situation.

Kath Pinnock is praised for her work on the levelling up brief, particularly on rights for renters and fire safety:

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Sue Miller highlights falling breastfeeding rates in Lords International Women’s Day debate

Back in the day, I spent a few years as a breastfeeding counsellor, doing what I could to support parents when they hit trouble and helping them find solutions that worked for them.

I got involved in that because I wanted to give something back after my breastfeeding journey was helped back on track by a lovely and patient volunteer called Louise who came to my house and sorted me out with great empathy.

Her help motivated me to help other women who desperately wanted to breastfeed but hadn’t been able to overcome their problems but hadn’t had the support that they needed. The guilt that comes along with that is huge, but misplaced. It is not their fault. Those running the health services failed to provide it.

I also became very interested in the implementation, or lack of it, of the International Code for the Marketing of Breastmilk substitutes and the ways that formula manufacturers got round it and how their powerful lobbying of governments kept regulation at bay.

I was also struck by research at the time that, in this country that showed  a poor breastfed baby had better long term health outcomes than a formula fed baby from an affluent background.

You would hope that we might have made some progress with providing support and regulating the manufacturers in the intervening 15 years.

Unfortunately, Lib Dem Peer Sue Miller, in her contribution to the International Women’s Day debate, highlighted that we are actually going backwards. You can read her whole speech here, but here are the highlights:

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Liz Barker highlights attacks on women’s rights worldwide

This week, Liz Barker spoke in the International Women’s Day debate in the Lords. She highlighted the orchestrated attacks on women’s rights worldwide in all its forms. She particularly focused on the treatment of trans women. She added that an attack on the rights of one group of women is an attack on the rights of all women.

She also criticised the Government’s reduction in international aid and the impact that has on things like HIV research – and which could leave us unprepared for future pandemics.

Finally she talked about women’s health care, in particular the under-reporting of mental health, particularly if they have learning difficulties or autism. And she cited some very troubling data around the availability of contraception.

Here is her speech in full.

My Lords, I too wish to pay tribute to Baroness Boothroyd. Because of the proximity of our offices, we often used to bump into each other in the lift. One day I complimented her on one of her fabulous outfits—she was always beautifully turned out—and in that unmistakeable voice she said, “give it brass and go big.” I have always thought that I will for ever hold that as my phrase: give it brass, go big.

The theme of today’s International Women’s Day is “Embrace Equity”. It is a very good phrase, as the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, has just said, because it carries within it the implication that we are, as women, diverse—very diverse. Women have different life experiences, different economic circumstances and all sorts of differences between us, yet we have common aspirations for safety, health, autonomy and prosperity. It is important to bear that in mind as we have this debate, because it takes place against the background of a campaign originated and orchestrated by Christian nationalists in the United States, Europe and across Russia, which is very definitely about curbing the aspirations and autonomy of all women.

In the United States and places like Poland and Hungary the focus is on anti-abortion activities. In Africa, the focus is against equality and LGBT rights. In the US and UK, the key focus of this campaign is anti-gender. We are beginning as we go through, to see a greater emphasis on unpicking this campaign and understanding the motivations behind it. The Council of Europe, for example, in 2022 produced a thematic report on legal gender recognition in Europe, which began to show what this campaign is about. Ultimately, it is about the rolling back of human rights and the destruction of human rights legislation and the organisations which are there to protect and promote it. That is a key concern for all women because human right lies at the basis of our equality and equity.

In the UK we know that there is a daily campaign against trans women. We see it day after day in our media. It is a campaign that seeks to pit women against women. It portrays trans women as a significant and systemic threat to other women. I have to say that, after six years, it is a campaign that has yet to provide evidence of that, and it is yet to win significant approval. That is not to say that some politicians have not been taken in by this and have been ever ready to use it to their political advantage. I have to say today that some of us will always reject playing with human rights, because if you play with the human rights of some people, you play with the human rights of all, and if you jeopardise the rights of some women, you jeopardise the rights of all. I hope that politicians in this country will look again at some of the aspects of this campaign and will desist in the demonisation of a very small minority of people in this country. They are at the moment under attack and very frightened, and today, on International Women’s Day, it is important to give them some hope and solidarity.

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My highlights of International Women’s Day

The internet always goes wild for International Women’s Day. If we thought more of improving women’s lives for the rest of the year, the world would be a much better place for half its citizens. For example, how can you have decent economic growth if women are being forced out of work because of the cost of childcare.

From the Guardian:

Data for 2021 showed the gender pay gap widening four times faster in the UK than the average for the OECD, primarily due to the financial penalty from motherhood.

Larice Stielow, a senior economist at PwC, said: “An 18-year-old woman entering the workforce today will not see pay equality in her working lifetime. At the rate the gender pay gap is closing, it will take more than 50 years to reach gender pay parity.

“The motherhood penalty is now the most significant driver of the gender pay gap and, in the UK, women are being hit even harder by the rising cost of living and increasing cost of childcare.

“With this and the gap in free childcare provision between ages one and three, more women are being priced out of work. For many it is more affordable to leave work than remain in employment and pay for childcare, especially for families at lower income levels.”

That said, here are some of my highlights of yesterday:

Wera calls for misogyny to be made a hate crime.

Predictably the replies are an absolute bin fire.

Later she talked about the importance of understanding the impact of sexual assault on victims:

Gender pay bot

Social media is awash with platitudes from every organisation in the country, trying to show that they are there with the women.  Gender Pay Bot’s Twitter account calls them to account by highlighting their gender pay gap.

Of course all of this is possible because Jo Swinson introduced the legislation requiring companies with more than 250 employees to report on their gender pay gap.

It’s worrying that so many of them are NHS related;

The Daily Express had a gap of 15.7%, although this is down 6.8% in the last year.

Sotheby’s is doing terribly.

Emma Ritch Law Clinic

Some of you may remember Emma Ritch, (pictured here back right) who spoke at our 2018 fringe meeting at Brighton Conference on how Scotland’s feminist and LGBT organisations worked together to help achieve better rights and status for all. She talked about the concept of “radical kindness” which underpinned relations between these organisations – something that we could do with in these awful times.

Sadly, Emma died suddenly in July 2021. She was an outstanding feminist, with the sharpest and wisest of minds, the best sense of humour and a flair for snazzy pencil cases. Scotland misses her a lot. Yesterday, Glasgow University announced that a law clinic, specialising in rape and sexual violence, opening this September would be named for her.

From Glasgow University’s announcement:

As well as offering legal advice, through a specially constituted legal practice unit, the Emma Ritch Law Clinic will offer innovative teaching to students, enabling the next generation of Scottish lawyers to gain critical legal and ethical skills. It will also produce valuable research, providing an insight into the difference that specialist legal advice and representation can make to complainers’ experiences of prosecution, and gather data to better understand why cases might fail to reach, or progress, through the criminal justice system.

The Clinic will also instil awareness of trauma-informed lawyering, and the practice of criminal law, an area with longstanding issues in terms of recruitment and retention.

Engender’s Making work visible

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Christine Jardine tables Bill to tackle online abuse of women

Christine Jardine tabled a Bill aimed at forcing social media companies to report on the action they are taking to tackle online abuse of women.

From the Edinburgh Reporter:

Ms Jardine called the UK Government’s lack of action on the issue “a dereliction of duty”.

She said: “Social media has made it much easier for people to discuss key issues, but too often debates become toxic, with women bearing the brunt of abusive comments.

“I know from my own experience that social media can turn quickly nasty and have faced waves of personal abuse throughout my time as an MP.

“We must also remember that women from an ethnic minority background, or women with a disability faced much more targeted abuse because of their identity.

“It is outrageous that the Conservative Government’s flagship Bill covering online harms does not mention women even once. This is a total dereliction of their duty to protect all women and girls.

“That is why I have brought this Bill to Parliament, so no woman is left abandoned to the wild west of online abuse any longer.”

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Lib Dem MPs propose 9 laws to advance women’s equality

Nine of of the Lib Dems’ thirteen MPs are women. Today, for International Women’s Day, they have proposed nine new bills to tackle areas where women face particular inequality.

The 9 bills are:

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Lib Dems mark International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day and the event has been marked by senior party figures.

Christine Jardine reminds us of the especially poignant reason we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March:

Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds called for changes to make it more appealing for women to stand for election at all levels, but particularly local Government:

We urgently need our councils and politics to be more representative of communities they serve. If local governments are so unrepresentative of the population they serve, they cannot possibly hope to deliver for that community effectively.

So this May I want to see more women from different backgrounds, different classes and different ethnicities standing for election. All political parties have a duty to encourage this. And if you are someone in a position of power of influence then make sure you ask them to stand.

“It may seem obvious, but my own political career wouldn’t have started had someone not asked me to stand for council elections. At the time, I had the same view of local Government that many women do, a club for white men over a certain age. I hadn’t thought of entering politics before because I hadn’t believed my voice would be listened to.

“However, we also need structural issues to be resolved. Introducing more flexible schedules for council meetings should be the top priority. Council meetings are often too long and involve unworkable and unsociable hours for those with family, caring and work commitments.

“Society works better when those making decisions are representative of the communities they serve and this International Women’s Day we must remind ourselves of what needs to be done to reach that.”

Lib Dem Women are using the day to highlight women candidates for May’s elections on their Twitter feed,kicking off with one of our most senior and experienced council leaders

ALDC is doing similar:

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Beatrice Wishart’s speech for International Women’s Day

This week the Scottish Parliament held a debate for International Women’s Day, which happens on Tuesday 8th March.

Beatrice Wishart MSP spoke for the Liberal Democrats:

You can read her speech in full below and the link to the debate is here.

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International Women’s Day: Chloe Hutchinson on the difference of having more young women in politics

Chloe Hutchinson is one of the brightest talents in our party. She heads up the South Wales West list for the Senedd elections this year. She gave a keynote speech to Welsh Conference yesterday about the difference Welsh Lib Dems can make in May. Let’s hope Chloe is elected because she would be a powerful voice for liberty and equality.

We have just 8 weeks left in what is one of the most important, and probably strangest, elections that many of us have fought. COVID 19 has had a devastating impact on our communities and it is essential that the next Welsh Government puts recovery first. From calling people across your communities to check in, to supporting local foodbanks and leading volunteer groups – thank you for everything you have done.

Thank you too for everything you have done so far and are continuing to do to help us get our message out to voters and rebuild a liberal base, offering real choice to our communities ahead of this election.

It is a privilege to be standing for this party and to be supported by so many of you here. That support means even more to me as a young woman engaging in politics when the average politician does not look like me. Now things have been getting better, slowly. Following the 2019 election 34% of the MPs elected to parliament were women, the highest ever. In Wales, we were ahead of the curve – in 2003 50% of Senedd members were women. However only 28% of councillors in Wales are women, and a woman of colour has never been elected to the Welsh Parliament, and we are at real risk of electing even less women this May.

Whether you want to run for a parliamentary seat or local council, campaign to get others elected or on an issue you are passionate about – get involved. 

This May, we will also see 16 and 17 year olds in Wales being able to vote for the first time, something we have long campaigned for. Now, I first got involved in politics during the 2014 European election, researching the issues and debating with my friends. I decided that I liked what the Liberal Democrats stood for. It just made sense. Unfortunately, I was just 6 days too young to vote. 

A few months later, angry at the number of UKIP MEPs I was now represented by and inspired by a campaign run by fantastic young woman, I decided to go to a youth conference and quickly got involved in Young Liberals, or more specifically IR Cymru.

From campaigns for cheaper bus travel, a youth parliament, more inclusive and cheaper school uniforms, and a new relationship and sexuality education that is inclusive to LGBT+ people, includes consent, and empowers young people to have healthy relationships, it has been fantastic to see young Liberal Democrats bring these to conference and even better to see them put into practice by Welsh Liberal Democrats in the Senedd. 

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International Women’s Day: Beatrice Wishart on gender balance going backwards at Holyrood

Today is International Women’s Day. And if you are one of those people who find it necessary to ask if there’s an International Men’s Day, it’s 19th November.

So today, I’ll be making the occasional intervention on Mark’s day to report on what senior Liberal Democrats are saying about International Women’s Day.

Beatrice Wishart, Lib Dem MSP for Shetland got in early with her speech in the Holyrood International Women’s Day event last Thursday. She highlighted the problems women were facing juggling work and caring responsibilities during the pandemic. She also spoke about the exodus of young women MSPs who  have found it too difficult to combine raising a family with their parliamentary duties. One of the women stepping down is Gail Ross, the SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross. If the Parliament had got its act together on hybrid proceedings before the pandemic, maybe she and others might have felt able to stay. Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

Equality is one of the four founding principles of the Scottish Parliament.

It should be at the core of everything we do here.

And yet, 20 years into this Parliament, so many challenges remain. We undoubtedly still have work to do.

In November we spoke about problems around violence against women. The life ruining crimes. The hideous harassment. Problems that just have to be addressed, globally and closer to home.

Of course, those are not the only challenges women face.

Many have said that the pandemic “turned back the clock” on gender equality.

It is certainly true that negative impacts have fallen disproportionately on women.

Job losses and income reductions have been widespread. An International Monetary Fund report highlighted how women are more likely than men to work in social sectors including retail, tourism, and hospitality where lockdown has been most widely felt.

The true value of care has come into the limelight, both professionally and domestically. 

And the responsibility to manage home schooling all hit women harder, without question.

Many people found themselves between a rock and a hard place, juggling impossible burdens and expectations. 

These problems are not new. There is nothing unfamiliar in what I’ve just described.

The relationship between women and work has always been fragile.

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7 March 2019 – yesterday’s press releases (part 1)

A busy day yesterday and overnight, so today’s press releases will come in two sections…

  • Home Secretary ‘open-minded’ on right to work
  • Permanent Secretary exit only ‘managed departure’ from DExEU
  • Liberal Democrats demand better for women on International Women’s Day
  • Revealed: Home Office report rubbishes Boris Johnson’s Stop and Search claim

Home Secretary ‘open-minded’ on right to work

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine has secured assurances from the Home Secretary that he is ‘open-minded’ about her Bill which would loosen rules around asylum seekers’ right to work.

The Edinburgh West MP raised her campaign with Sajid Javid in a joint meeting organised by cross-party group, More …

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What are you doing to celebrate International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day will be on Friday 8th March. Please share your plans to celebrate it in the comments below.

Here in Southwest London the local parties in the boroughs of Kingston, Sutton, Merton and Richmond have developed several projects, both political and non-political.

First, we are jointly running a conference with Liberal Democrat Women titled “WOMEN: Shaping the future, making a difference!“. A number of influential women have been invited to share their stories with us including Floella Benjamin, Sam Smethers (Fawcett Society), Siobhan Benita (candidate for London Mayor) and Lorely Burt.

There will be workshops led by practitioners on Women in Business, Tech, Political Activism, Community Activism, Creative Industries and Public Life. Christine Cheng will reprieve her TEDx talk on strategies for encouraging women to participate, and Sal Brinton will give a summary speech at the end of the day which should send us out energised and enthused.

The conference is open to anyone, of any gender, sympathetic to the Liberal Democrats.

In addition, councillors in the boroughs have worked with their Councils to develop some public events.

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International Women’s Day – #AskHerToStand

100 years since women got the vote, and Parliament still woefully lags behind in terms of gender equality.

Whilst there are more women in Parliament than ever before, we are still on 32% of the Commons. We languish at 49th in the world for the number of women in Parliament. At this rate it will take 50 years to achieve gender equality in Parliament. 100 years after women won the right to vote 50:50 are aiming to achieve better gender balance in Parliament sooner than this.

I was thrilled to

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It’s International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world. The theme this year is #PressforProgress. One startling fact: the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report shows that gender parity is 217 years away!

And on to harassment in its many forms – our own Wera Hobhouse MP is calling on the government to make upskirting a criminal offence as reported by Caron on Tuesday. Wera says,

The fact that this is not a sexual offence in England baffles me, as much as it horrifies me. In Scotland upskirting was made an offence back in 2009. There is simply no excuse for ignoring this issue any longer.

Relying on outraging public decency is absurd. It should not matter how public it was or who else saw it. The law should focus on the individual victims and the crime committed against them. It is their body that is being taken advantage of without their consent.

But true equality is about resolving power inequality. Professor Mary Beard’s latest book, Women and Power, discusses the structures inherent in society which need to change. In discussions with a friend this week we realised that until we get most histories written by women, most laws written by women, society governed by women in the majority at every level, we will never achieve gender equality. The world is not only run predominantly by men but is also contextualised in books, histories, films, etc., by men. The whole world is skewed by a man’s perspective on everything. Living is framed by men.

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Inspiring women: Sarah Olney MP

How brilliant was it at 3 whatever it was in the morning of 1st December when Sarah Olney was declared the MP for Richmond Park? She certainly deserves to be acclaimed as one of this year’s inspiring Lib Dem women. Her speech at the count, full of liberal principle, got many of us in the gut.

Last week, she spoke for the party in the International Women’s Day Debate in the Commons. Here is her speech in full:

May I say how pleased I am to represent the Liberal Democrats in this debate on International Women’s Day, as the 454th female MP? I am proud to say, in contrast to some previous Members’ contributions, that I am not the first, nor even the second, woman to have held my seat. I am, in fact, the third Liberal Democrat woman to represent Richmond Park, and I am extremely proud of that.

One of the advantages of being a London MP is that I get to go home to my family every evening and spend time with them every morning. As the mother of young children, this is a particular blessing to me, but it does mean that I live a life of contrasts. Yesterday, for example, I spent the first part of the morning trying to get my son to clean his teeth and my daughter to brush her hair. I then travelled into Westminster and challenged the Prime Minister in the Chamber about her spending priorities for education. Of the two things, the latter was more remarked upon—it was heard by Members here, recorded in Hansard and shared on Twitter—but getting my son to clean his teeth was the greater achievement in many ways. It took more ingenuity, effort and emotional commitment, but nobody noticed, cared or applauded me for it.

It often sounds ironic or self-deprecating to refer to the tasks of motherhood as being more taxing than tasks carried out in the professional sphere, but in this case, I am not being ironic; it is precisely true. We are so used to underplaying the work we do as mothers and in the home that we do not think anyone will take us seriously if we talk seriously about it. So today, in the spirit of the motion to recognise the achievements of women, I want to celebrate the everyday, unacknowledged, unrewarded and unnoticed achievements of women.

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Inspiring Lib Dem Women: Kelly-Marie Blundell

On this International Women’s Day, we are celebrating some inspiring Lib Dem Women.

Since being selected PPC for Lewes, which requires just a 1% swing to take it back from the Tories, Kelly-Marie Blundell has been a campaigning force, increasing the local membership, helping to elect four new Lib Dem councillors in by-elections, campaigning against Brexit and just this Saturday collecting an impressive 700 signatures for the rights of resident EU citizens.

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Inspiring Lib Dem Women: The women who chair our state and federal parties

For the first time in our history, women are at the helm of all three state parties and the federal party.

Of course, Sal Brinton is our federal party President. I am constantly in awe of her seemingly endless patience as she has to navigate all the different interest groups in the party and bring them all together to agree on a way forward.

I shudder to think how many hundreds of thousands of miles she has travelled in her two an a bit years as President through a General Election, Welsh and Scottish elections and visiting every by-election. She spent a few days in Cornwall the other week boosting their county council campaign and then popped up in Stoke several times – including the gruelling all night shift.

As well as all this she puts in some considerable work in the Lords. Watch her speak here on the effect that Brexit will have on health and social care.

On International Women’s Day, it is appropriate to recognise her work in protecting her students from harassment by introducing considerate conduct contracts for construction workers.

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Inspiring Lib Dem women: Elaine Bagshaw

Today on International Women’s Day, we are celebrating some fantastic Lib Dem Women.

Remember back in 2015 after that devastating General Election when we all just wanted to hide under our duvets and make the next five years go away? Well, Elaine Bagshaw didn’t have time to do that, because she had to fly the Lib Dem flag in the Tower Hamlets mayoral by-election caused by the disqualification of the previous incumbent.

She made progress in that election and since then she has led her local party from strength to strength. As the candidate for Poplar and Limehouse, she is out there campaigning most days. Her local party membership is over 550 and she is working hard for her community. Late one recent Saturday night, she featured on local Bengali channel NTV talking about the Lib Dem perspective on Brexit and Trump and did such a good job of explaining our position.

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LibLink: Miriam Gonzalez Durantez: I don’t want my 3 sons to grow up in a world where girls feel second rate

Another Lib Dem woman who inspires many – in fact, she makes a mission of Inspiring Women is Miriam Gonzalez Durantez.

She has written for the Telegraph about the need for men and women to work together to make life better for the next generation of boys and girls.

She outlines the threats to hard-won progress:

In the US, President Donald Trump is putting into question women’s reproductive rights; in Russia, laws are being considered to decriminalise some aspects of domestic violence.

Just last week, a Polish MEP declared that women should earn less than men because they are “weaker, smaller and less intelligent.” Breitbart, the right-wing website pioneered by Steve Bannon, now Trump’s chief strategist, has claimed that birth control makes women unattractive and crazy. And so on.

Women still suffer from society’s expectations:

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Lorely Burt writes: We can’t call ourselves a democracy when men monopolise public life

The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is ‘Be Bold for Change’ – this got me thinking about how we, as Liberal Democrats, can do our bit to help forge a better and more gender equal world. Of course, as a party we have already taken a great leap forward for the future to make sure we reflect the diversity of the country with the ‘Electing Diverse MPs’ motion passed almost a year ago. But as individuals what can we do to make sure that more women get involved and active in the party at every level?

It was less than six months ago that we, both men and women pulling together, managed to get Sarah Olney elected to Parliament. Like many of you there was a defining moment that made her join the Liberal Democrats and get stuck in, but we have to remember that not all women will put themselves forward like that and some may need more encouragement than others. We all have a responsibility to reach out to those women we think would make great Liberal Democrat elected representatives, and let’s face it we can all think of one or two. The evidence is clear – if a woman is approached to stand then she is most likely to consider it.

Change will not happen overnight, it will take all our efforts to make these incremental changes. Let us never be complacent, as this year’s theme reminds us – we must be bold. We are a country that prides itself on being progressive and inclusive – yet Parliament, our country’s highest decision-making body, is only 30% female.

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Inspiring Lib Dem Women: Daisy Benson

On this International Women’s Day, we are celebrating some inspiring Lib Dem Women.

PPC for Yeovil Daisy Benson’s infectious liberalism and energy has led her to be one of the driving forces behind the Lib Dem Newbies group on Facebook.

As a councillor in Reading, she was the executive member for housing  and social care.

She was one of the most successful early social media campaigners, recognising that it’s not just a  broadcast platform but a space for dialogue.

Daisy is now concentrating her energies on winning back the Yeovil seat. We need her energy and ideas in Parliament.

This week she’s been featured on the Daily Politics. Watch below:

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International Women’s Day – Who cares?

Today we are celebrating International Women’s Day.  For some, it is a chance to recognise the achievements of women in the arts, sport and science; to others it is an opportunity to highlight inequalities. I wish to do both: to celebrate the contribution women make up and down this country although that contribution causes them more inequality. I speak of caring.

In the world of caring, women are indispensable. And undervalued. 58% of carers in the U.K. are women, but in relation to the number of hours worked the percentage is higher. European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality commissioned report found that European women spend an average of 26 hours a week on caring activities, whilst men spend only 9 hours.

In the U.K., 73% of those who receive Carers’ Allowance (giving care more than 35 hours a week) are women. 38% of carers are caring for over 100 hours a week.

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Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece writes: 117 years is too long to wait for gender parity

This week we marked International Women’s Day, the theme of which was ‘Pledge for Parity,’ borne of the latest prediction from the World Economic Forum that we won’t achieve global gender parity until 2133. This date is further in the future than the previous prediction, reflecting the fact that progress internationally, is slowing down, not speeding up. We must take action to tackle it, here and abroad.

Although we have made great strides here in the UK, there is still much to do. The gender pay gap is still real; women make up just 29% of House of Commons, we have too few women in leadership roles in the civil service, business, as newspapers editors and in the diplomatic service.

Violence against women domestically and globally is still endemic. I’m a member of the Select Committee on Sexual Violence in Conflict, where we’ve heard some appalling evidence of how in some countries women’s lower status contributes to the violence they face. While there are so few women in positions of power internationally, violence continues to be widely used as a tool to keep women in their place.

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One Liberal Democrat man’s view of International Woman’s Day

Austin Rathe, formerly Head of Membership at LDHQ, posted this as his Facebook status on Tuesday, International Women’s Day. I thought it was worth reposting here, with his permission of course. .

So, guys, I’ve seen a couple of you post today asking why there isn’t an International Men’s Day*.

OK, I get it, it’s supposed to be about equality right? So why do we have something for women we don’t have for men?

I’ll explain why, but before we begin I’d like you to stop, look up from your desk (or other place of work) towards a female college. Don’t stare, but just imagine for a few moments that you’re not you, you’re that woman who you know, probably respect and hopefully care about.

Ok. So let’s go.

Now you’re a woman, your pay just got cut by 24%. Put that into pounds and pence and think how pissed off you are. You should be, it’s outrageous that because you just switched gender you’re getting paid less, but that’s what happens. And it adds up. Over your life as a woman you’re going to earn on average £300,000 less than you would have done as a man. Now we’re all proud of our penises, but I don’t think any of us would claim that it makes us 24% more productive at work. If yours does, please post tips in the comments.

Let’s head outside for a bit to calm down. Maybe a bit of shopping over lunch? Well, get ready for the double whammy, because not only do you have a lot less cash now, but you have to pay more for the same stuff. That’s right, on average the female versions of products (for example clothes) cost 7% more than the male ones. And of course, from now, your going to have to buy sanitary products once a month whether you like or not. And they’re a luxury, so you pay VAT on them as well. Lucky you.

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WATCH: Why we are #INtogether this International Women’s Day

Liberal Democrat women explain why women are better off in the EU

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Opinion: We must not be complacent!


Yesterday was International Women’s Day. We have a lot be proud of, but there is still a long way to go.

On Friday I spoke at a hustings organised by Youth Parliament. Afterwards, I had several young women come up, inspired and engaged with what I had to say. It was brilliant to see them keen on becoming politically active.

But as I left I was approached by two teenage lads, well-spoken, but of a completely different mindset. They asked me why women should be encouraged into politics because “it is a career which suits men.” I was aghast. I could not believe that attitude could exist among young people today. I am prepared for sexism from older generations, but my generation and those younger than me surely have been brought up in a world where men and women are equal?

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Who’s the woman who has inspired you most?

Caron and ShirleyIt’s International Women’s Day today and on Twitter, there’s been an #inspiredby meme on Twitter where we have to say which women have inspired us.

I went a bit mad, as you can see from my Twitter feed. I’ve been lucky enough to know so many fabulous women in politics from all parties that if I started writing about them now, I’d still be here this time next week. And that would just be politics. So I’m going to limit myself to just two.

The first is someone who was my first political hero, ever since she made that speech at that first SDP conference where she talked about being required to scale unscaleable heights as she announced her candidacy for the Crosby by-election. She’s done so much to advance and advocate women’s rights internationally. She was a minister in a world where it was ok for interviewers like Robin Day to compliment female MPs on their outfits and say how pretty they looked. She was brave enough to recognise that she and the Labour Party had come to the end of the road and to branch out in a new direction when the SDP was formed. Her energy even now, at the age of 84, is incredible. It was fantastic to have her come to Scotland for the best part of the last 10 days of the referendum campaign last year. She was filling halls and winning debates right up till the last minute. I found it quite emotional to see a Yes campaigner come up to her on Dunfermline High Street and say that she’d been her hero all her life too. I’m talking of course about Shirley Williams. She’s had such a fascinating life. It must have been so hard to have been uprooted and sent to strangers across the Atlantic during the War, thousands of miles from her parents but she threw herself into that experience. As she grew up she met some of the most progressive thinkers of her day.

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Willie Rennie’s message for International Women’s Day

Willie Rennie doesn’t have a fancy video, but he this is his message for International Women’s Day.

Liberals across the world are driven by an ambition to see a fairer, more equal society. The bedrock of which must be equality of opportunity.

I’m proud that Liberal Democrats have used the responsibility of Government to drive our ambition of equality even further forward. Shared parental leave, free childcare and flexible working are all measures taken forward by Liberal Democrats which will enable more women to have the equality of opportunity they need to get on in life.

But we still have much more we need to do. That is why Liberal Democrats have led efforts to end FGM, where millions of women are still at risk across the world. We want to end FGM within a generation.

We can be proud that in Holyrood, the leadership of our political parties better reflect our society. But I take a personal responsibility in ensuring my party does all that it can to remove the barriers which prevent women from representing their peers in parliament. I hope that this is a personal responsibility of all leaders, be they party leaders or business leaders.

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Nick Clegg’s message for International Women’s Day

Here is Nick Clegg’s message for International Women’s Day. The text is underneath.

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