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Jeremy Corbyn announces universal free childcare in gender equality manifesto

Labour Leadership Candidates and now they are 4_edited-1Jeremy Corbyn today announced a manifesto for gender equality, titled, ‘Working with Women’, with a range of policies including universal free childcare, an end to cuts to welfare and public services, mandatory equal pay audits and protecting women’s refuges for survivors of domestic violence.

The manifesto spans a woman’s life, starting from early years and schooling to women in the workplace, and discusses policies to promote women’s representation, tackle austerity and fight everyday sexism.

Newly elected MP for Edmonton, Kate Osamor, welcomed the policies, saying:

I’m so glad that Jeremy Corbyn has opened up a big discussion about the role women would play if he is elected leader of the Labour party – and setting some pointers of the kind of agenda for women we as a party would have. I’m delighted to be working with him on this.”

The headline policy is that a Corbyn-led Labour government would introduce free universal childcare, a clear policy that should appeal to the millions of voters who are parents. The Coalition’s plans to double free childcare for working families was popular and appealed to all kinds of voters, and Corbyn’s plan to universalise free childcare is exactly the sort of policy that could win over ‘the squeezed middle’ that Ed Miliband used to speak about, or the relatively non-political swing voters, who think about politics for four minutes a week, in English marginals who voted Tory in 2015.

The manifesto also pledges to, “End the cuts to public services and welfare that drive more women and families into poverty, including the cuts to services for ending violence against women and girls, including refuges and support for domestic violence and rape survivors.” Even before austerity, a report in 2009 showed that nearly nine out of 10 local authorities did not have a centre offering support to victims of rape, while a comparison of spending between 2009/10 and 2012/13 reveals £5.6m of cuts to services including refuges for abused women, domestic violence advocates, victim support centres and centres for women who have been raped or sexually assaulted.

On the economy and equal pay, Corbyn has pledged to, “Make companies to publish equal pay audits, and giving all workers equal protections from day one at work with no fees at employment tribunals, challenge discrimination in the workplace and achieving equal and higher pay for all.” Despite 45 years passing since Labour’s Equal Pay Act, women still face an average 19.1% pay gap, meaning for every £1 a man is paid, women get just 81p. This gap is larger for women working part time and especially for Black and Minority Ethnic women.

In terms of women’s representation, in politics, business and society as a whole, Corbyn points out there are more men called John leading FTSE 100 companies than women, and pledges a gender-balanced shadow cabinet and to help take Labour’s count of women MPs from 40% to 50%.

Finally Corbyn sets out a set of policies to address the ways in which austerity has hit women disproportionately. Noting that women are the primary users of services – on behalf of themselves, their children and those they care for, he proposes to end these cuts and oppose them while in Opposition.

A brief summary of the policies announced includes:

  • Make Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PHSE) mandatory with a focus on healthy relationships
  • Invest more in skills training and high quality apprenticeships with an emphasis on challenging outdated gender stereotypes
  • Cut fees for employment tribunals and extend the period a mother can take a case
  • Work towards providing universal free childcare
  • Recognise women’s caring roles through tax and pension rights
  • Reverse the cuts in local authority adult social care and invest in a national carers strategy, under a combined National Health & Care Service
  • Properly fund Violence Against Women and Girls Services and make it easier for women to be believed and get justice
  • Make employers report on the gender breakdown and pay of their workforce
  • Work to get more women, including ethnic minority and disabled women, into local and national positions in the Labour Party

The whole manifesto, ‘Working with Women’ can be read by following this link.

One Comment

  1. Sue Weaver says:

    Having been an optimist all my life, I am now worn down by years of caring for a sick child, with all the (totally unnecessary) battles that entails. Illness and the need to care has left us in poverty. My savings are all gone and I am exhausted, and now, having worked since I was 13, I have to wait another 6 years before I can claim my pension. I now await a decision, by someone other than my doctor, to decide if I am truly exhausted or just shamming (presumably with his complicity) and if I thus deserve the ‘welfare’ that was once called ‘social security, until I recover and get back on my feet again.
    Day by day I hear of the awful, despicable, shameful things that are happening in our country, and I feel deep grief or what we have become.
    A group of greedy people, who simply can’t get enough, have created a story where we, the people, are the ones who want something for nothing, and are all lazy layabouts.
    We are led into war and conflict, with no shame, where the only common denominator is oil. We are daily brainwashed into battles and competition with our sisters and brothers and our neighbours.
    Jeremy Corbyn, dear man, thankyou for being a ray of hope, of sanity, of humanity. I have a sense that you do not particularly desire the limelight, nor what politics can bring you personally, but have stepped forward because you can see a job that needs to be done. Thankyou. Thankyou. I will vote for you. I wish you well. I pray for you.

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