This week’s Labour Party annual conference (25-29 September) held a women-only session to discuss ‘What Women Want’. But was the absence of men really necessary in the ongoing fight for equality? Two politically-minded women discuss…
Rachel Reeves, Labour MP for Leeds West
Even now, just one in five MPs are women. Until last year, there were scores of bars and restaurants in Parliament, but no crèche. Until we see equality in the boardroom and equality in pay, there is a need for women in politics to stand united with one voice and influence the debate. Whether that’s on childcare, women’s pensions, domestic violence or campaigning to reduce maternal mortality in the developing world, a forum like this one is a fantastic opportunity for us to do just that.
Women-only events give a chance to discuss the issues that aren’t always debated in the male dominated world of politics. While we still fight for equal representation I’ll continue to attend the labour women’s session to ensure our voice is heard.
Clemency Burton- Hill, journalist
We’ve all heard men groan when gaggles of females skip off to the bathroom together. I love a girly natter, but when we return are the boys suddenly more attentive to what we have to say? Of course not. Leaving them out makes them suspicious and much less likely to give credence to whatever we say next. If the Labour sisterhood’s gripe is the disproportionate amount of power men have, surely the people who should be listening are men. To exclude them is a form of selfsegregation that will merely perpetuate the idea that it’s reasonable to isolate women and their ‘issues’.
Let’s have these arguments upfront and unapologetically. Let’s force the men to listen.
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