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“It’s too important to be left to the men”: Harriet Harman criticises lack of female voices in Brexit debate

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Harriet Hall
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Former deputy leader of the opposition, Harriet Harman, has warned that women are being excluded from the debate over the EU referendum.

In a letter to the media watchdog, OfCom, the Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham has complained that male politicians are being allowed to dominate the EU debate in the media, and calls on them to ensure an equal representation, and that issues affecting women are given adequate media coverage.

Harman will give a speech today condemning the marginalisation of female voices on the airwaves, saying that men are ‘pushing women out’ of the conversation. The veteran MP is determined for women’s voices to be represented better in the run up to the 23 June vote.

The news comes soon after Loughborough University published a report that found only one in 10 contributors to the EU debate in the media had been women. Featuring the most across all media were David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson.

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"Men are – as usual – pushing women out of the debate."

Dominic Wring, professor of political communication art Loughborough University says that “women representatives have been seldom seen, heard or reported in this stage of the campaign.”

Additionally, Labour analysis has found that men have thus far made up 83% of all politicians who have appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme to discuss Brexit since January 2016, and that female spokespeople made up only 28% of guests on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

“Half the population of this country are women,” says Harman, “and our membership of the EU is important to women’s lives. Yet men are – as usual – pushing women out. Women are being excluded and the debate narrowed.

“The broadcasters have a legal duty to keep a balance between those who want remain and those who want to leave. They should have a balance between men and women. This referendum is too important to be left to men.”

The latest polls show the decision to be neck and neck, with 47% of people saying they will vote remain, and 40% saying they will vote leave. 

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Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall is a former Stylist contributor.

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