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Each for Equality on International Women's Day

March 8, 2020 10:00 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

In the House of Commons, Liberal Democrats now have our most diverse Parliamentary Party ever. Our MPs are more representative of society than ever before, and I am confident that we will continue to make positive strides towards embodying the values that lie at the heart of our party. For Liberal Democrats, equality and human rights have always been, and will always be, what drives everything we do.

For Liberal Democrats, equality and human rights have always been, and will always be, what drives everything we do.

This International Women's Day, we are continuing the fight for gender equality in Parliament through seven pieces of legislation. Our MPs are introducing Bills that tackle challenges facing women and girls in the UK and beyond.

Two years ago for International Women's Day, Wera Hobhouse presented her Bill to make upskirting illegal. That legislation became law and today victims are getting the justice they deserve because of that work. Last year, we again tabled legislation from every female Liberal Democrat MP, highlighting key issues including the need for better postnatal mental health care.

For International Women's Day 2020, our seven women MPs are tabling different Bills that seek to address some of the many issues that contribute to gender discrimination and inequality today.

In the UK, women are still hit with the double whammy of the pay and price gap.

Layla Moran, our Education Spokesperson, is introducing legislation that would help ensure that children can go to the toilet during classes. Layla was inspired to seek these changes after hearing of girls who had their first period in a lesson and been denied access to the toilet. Daisy Cooper, our Justice Spokesperson, has a Bill to reduce the number of women in prisons for non-serious offences. Women are disproportionately given short-term sentences for minor offences, costing taxpayers unnecessary money and resulting in lifelong disadvantages.

Women and girls disproportionately experience harassment and intimidation.

Wendy Chamberlain, our International Development Spokesperson, is also introducing legislation that would help make sure the Conservatives are working to eradicate period poverty globally. No woman or girl should miss out on the opportunities many of us take for granted, including basic education, because of their period.

This Bill follows on from the change our colleague Kirsty Williams has secured in Wales as Education Minister, rolling out free sanitary products across schools. Liberal Democrats are determined to do all we can to ensure period poverty is eradicated wherever it exists.

Meanwhile, Wera Hobhouse is continuing the fight to make misogyny a hate crime, while Sarah Olney's Bill implements buffer zones around abortion clinics. Women and girls disproportionately experience harassment and intimidation and Liberal Democrats will keep campaigning to make it so that this is no longer an everyday reality. Alongside these, Munira Wilson, our Health Spokesperson, is seeking to ensure that victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse have the right to the support services they need. Liberal Democrats have long urged the Conservatives to bring the Istanbul Convention into law so that no survivor is turned away from getting care, and this Bill continues this vital effort.

We all have a role to play in driving progress.

In the UK, women are still hit with the double whammy of the pay and price gap. One of our proudest achievements in government was to introduce pay gap reporting for big companies, but that progress has fallen by the wayside under the Tories. That is why I am reintroducing legislation to eradicate the Pink Tax so that women don't have to pay unjustifiably high prices for basic products such as razors. It is time that the Conservatives do what they can to stop companies from charging more for the same product simply because of the audience it is marketed towards. It's old fashioned and it's time for change.

There is so much left to do in the fight for gender equality. We are not there yet. Whether at home or abroad, women and girls still face discrimination, prejudice and inequality. We all have a role to play in driving progress and Liberal Democrats are determined to do all we can in this fight. This International Women's Day, we are each for equality and we are pledging to work today and every day to do all we can to chip away at the barriers that persist so that we are all equal.