An open letter to the Conservative leadership candidates

Sam Smethers, CEO of Fawcett, today publishes an open letter to Rt Hon Theresa May MP and Andrea Leadsom MP to call upon them to consider women’s rights in thier leadership bids:

An open letter to Rt Hon Theresa May MP & Andrea Leadsom MP

Many congratulations on being shortlisted to become the leader of the Conservative Party and the UK’s next Prime Minister. It is extremely welcome to see two women running. However, as you know, we are a long way from achieving gender equality in wider society and in the economy.

We believe that there is an opportunity to achieve a radical step change in our society and make Britain the best place to be a woman. Will you be the Prime Minister to deliver that?

The reality for women remains stark: the gender pay gap is still 19%; 54,000 women each year experience pregnancy discrimination; just 29% of our MPs are women; 2 women each week are killed by a partner or ex-partner. Action to tackle these injustices is essential for improving women’s lives but also to ensuring we all benefit from a strong society and prosperous economy. In particular, the Fawcett Society is seeking a commitment from you on the following:

1. In a post-Brexit world there must be no weakening of women’s rights. Instead we need a commitment to an agenda for progress, not one that seeks to turn the clock back.

2. New gender pay gap reporting requirements must be introduced as planned. Existing plans could be strengthened but we welcome the Government’s action and David Cameron’s commitment to close the gender pay gap. Would the Government that you lead redouble its efforts to consign the pay gap to history?

3. Ensure that any negative economic consequences of the decision to leave the EU do not impact disproportionately on women. Carry out a gender impact assessment of any major spending decisions.

4. Reverse the tide of objectification, sexual harassment and bullying that young women experience. Introduce compulsory age appropriate sex and relationships education in our schools. This is long overdue.

5. Make ending violence against women and girls a key strategic priority, including tackling the racist and anti-Muslim violence and abuse that new research suggests is disproportionately impacting on women.

6. Finally, maintain progress on women’s representation throughout the Conservative Party at local and national level. Use positive action to speed up progress and set an ambitious target to take your party and the country closer to 50:50 representation.

We wish you good luck with your campaign and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Sam Smethers

Chief Executive, Fawcett Society

Download the letter here.

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