Celebrating Women’s Achievements on International Women’s Day

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International Women’s Day is the day to celebrate women’s achievements. It’s also a time to reflect on the status of women over the last one hundred years, on the progress that has been made and the rights, freedoms and dreams that remain unfulfilled for many women and girls. Through each generation, women have had more rights and opportunities than the last. Progress was only made possible thanks to generations of women who have fought for equality and change.

One hundred years ago, women were neither represented in parliament nor were they allowed to vote. The women of 1911 who celebrated the first International Women’s Day would have to wait another seven years for limited female suffrage, eight years for the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons and nearly two decades for the first female cabinet Minister. In my constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow, there is a long and proud history of women’s political activism – from the match women’s strike to Sylvia Pankhurst and the East London Federation of Suffragettes working to engage with the needs of working class women. The women from the East End have led the way.

I am proud of Labour’s history in advancing women’s rights. Labour introduced the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, the Equality Act and all-women shortlists. We also introduced the National Minimum Wage, which has benefitted many low-paid women. We opened 3,500 Sure Start Children’s Centres, providing support for parents and young children. We also increased paid maternity leave to nine months and extended total maternity leave to a full year helping to end the cycle of women being left behind in the workplace.

However, much more needs to be done. Women still make up only 22% of all MPs compared to more than half the population. The Conservative-led Government has cut some of the services women need most, disproportionately impacting them. And women are still too often the victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. On International Women’s day it is important that we remember these women and work towards empowerment and equality for our future.

International Women’s Day is the day to celebrate women’s achievements. It’s also a time to reflect on the status of women over the last one hundred years, on the progress that has been made and the rights, freedoms and dreams that remain unfulfilled for many women and girls. Through each generation, women have had more rights and opportunities than the last. Progress was only made possible thanks to generations of women who have fought for equality and change.

One hundred years ago, women were neither represented in parliament nor were they allowed to vote. The women of 1911 who celebrated the first International Women’s Day would have to wait another seven years for limited female suffrage, eight years for the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons and nearly two decades for the first female cabinet Minister. In my constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow, there is a long and proud history of women’s political activism – from the match women’s strike to Sylvia Pankhurst and the East London Federation of Suffragettes working to engage with the needs of working class women. The women from the East End have led the way.

I am proud of Labour’s history in advancing women’s rights. Labour introduced the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, the Equality Act and all-women shortlists. We also introduced the National Minimum Wage, which has benefitted many low-paid women. We opened 3,500 Sure Start Children’s Centres, providing support for parents and young children. We also increased paid maternity leave to nine months and extended total maternity leave to a full year helping to end the cycle of women being left behind in the workplace.

However, much more needs to be done. Women still make up only 22% of all MPs compared to more than half the population. The Conservative-led Government has cut some of the services women need most, disproportionately impacting them. And women are still too often the victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. On International Women’s day it is important that we remember these women and work towards empowerment and equality for our future.

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