Labour to unveil plan for separate Women and Equalities government department

Posted On: 
22nd September 2018

Labour would create a separate Cabinet post to focus on women's and equality issues were it to lead the next government, the party has said.

Shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler will unveil the new plan at the Labour Women’s Conference
PA Images

Labour says the areas need to be “put centre stage” in order to take on the “stubborn inequalities” that still exist.

The role of Women and Equalities minister is currently held by International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and has previously been presided over by Cabinet ministers from other departments.

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But Labour's Dawn Butler is expected to say today that it is wrong that the equality brief has been “tagged” onto different departments.

“We want to live in a society where no one is held back but we know stubborn inequalities are damaging the lives of so many of our fellow citizens and stopping us all from reaching our full potential as a society,” the shadow women and equalities minister will tell the Labour Women’s Conference.

“We can’t carry on just tinkering around the edges, with equality an afterthought or little more than a question of political presentation, not a priority for the Tories."

The policy, which comes ahead of the party’s autumn conference, forms part of a wider programme to tackle gender-related issues, including what it calls the “epidemic” of domestic abuse.

Under the plans employers would be forced to give up to 10 days of paid leave for victims of domestic violence.

“Employers have a duty of care to employees experiencing domestic abuse and should put in place a range of workplace policies to help victims,” Ms Butler will say.

“This crucial time will allow women to leave their abusive partners safely, get the help, protection and support they need, knowing their livelihood is secure.

“These 10 days could literally help save the lives of those women.”

The frontbencher will also take aim at Government cuts to council funding, and the knock-on effect they have on sustaining services such as women’s refuges and help for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.

She will add: "Councils should not to have to consider cutting funding for women's refuges, a lifeline to the most vulnerable women in their hour of need.

"Local authorities need sustainable, long-term funding to ensure that refuges can continue to provide a vital service.

"Labour will establish a national oversight mechanism to set quality standards for refuge provision and support.”