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International Women's Day & the labour movement

On International Women’s Day it is easy to bemoan the fact that EVERY day should be International Women’s Day.  But looking at my Twitter and Facebook feed today reminds me how incredibly powerful women’s voices are when gathered collectively, speaking our truths. It makes me feel proud that sisters are making their voices heard …and speaking up for other women who are less able to do so.

As trade union members, we understand the power of collective voices. We know our volume can translate into greater equality in the workplace, fairer wages, and better conditions. Or at least it should.  Under a Tory government this is a very distant dream for many. The ever increasing gender pay gap under the Conservatives means women earn an average of £300,000 less than men over our working lives. There is clearly still much work to be done…such as kicking out the Conservatives, for a start.

Joining passion, forces and voices can be life – and law- changing. It’s why I’m a proud trade union member and also a member of the Labour party. 

With more female MP’s than every other party put together, and the only party to have all-women selection shortlists, Labour gives female candidates a fairer shot at elected office and clear access to positions of power. 50% of the shadow cabinet is female, and we have Labour women leaders in Scotland and the House of Lords.

Labour takes equality seriously. A review of equal representation within the party is being carried out by the shadow minister for women and equalities, Kate Green, and the NEC member Ann Black. For women, these are exciting times to be in the Labour Party.

Affiliated organisations have a vital role to play in pushing equality forward as well. Labour Women’s Network have been working hard for nearly three decades to secure the election of more Labour women to public office at every level, and to support Labour women to play a full part in the Party. I serve on the management committee, and along with campaigning, training and fundraising- and a lot of fun- we all share a strong bond of sisterhood.

A recent Fabian Society report on women in the Labour Party highlights the unions, affiliated organisations, and members who are taking a clear message of equality that the leadership cannot ignore. Sisters- and brothers- we must ensure the promise of ‘new politics’ doesn’t look exactly like the old.

So, on International Women’s Day, let’s ensure the future of our nation is led by the voices of Labour women clearly calling for equality at home, in the workplace, and in Parliament. We can do it!

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