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What does the Labour win mean for women?

Sir Keir Starmer greeted supporters in a scarlet tie with a huge grin on his face this morning after Labour’s landslide win in the general election – but what does the party’s historic victory mean for women, and what do campaigners hope to see next?

From childcare and healthcare to domestic abuse, we asked charities and women’s groups for their thoughts…

ChildcareLabour’s pledged to open more than 3,000 new nursery classes across England, with plans to provide free breakfast club places in every primary school also among their childcare promises. But some charities suggest the childcare system needs more radical reform.

“Labour must set out much more ambitious plans on childcare if it is to be truly affordable, accessible, and reduce inequality,” says Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality and women’s rights at work. “The announced increase in places is a welcome start, next we need investment in the workforce to deliver those places.

Jemima

Jemima

“Our childcare system needs rescue and then radical reform so that all children can benefit, not just those whose parents are already in work,” adds Olchawski.

Victoria Benson, chief executive of single parent charity Gingerbread, adds: “We must also see the toxic two-child limit scrapped, unless this happens more children will live in poverty. Labour needs to demonstrate its commitment to improving the lives of the UK’s two million single parent families and we look forward to ensuring our voices are heard.”

Victoria Benson, CEO of single parent charity Gingerbread

Victoria Benson, CEO of single parent charity Gingerbread

Parental leave and flexible working are also two areas Labour has pledged to improve.

“Making parental leave a ‘day one right’ is just one of the family-friendly policies planned by Labour,” says Kate Palmer, employment services director at Peninsula UK.

“We can expect a new right to bereavement leave, and it will also become unlawful to dismiss pregnant employees for six months after their return from maternity leave, except under very specific circumstances.

Kate Palmer

Kate Palmer

“As well as family leave changes, they’ve vowed to open up flexible working rights even further,” adds Palmer. “For HR, new flexible working rights could lead to more parents adopting flexible working arrangements and balancing work around their childcare commitments.”

Women’s healthcare

Tackling NHS waiting lists is at the top of Starmer’s priority list, and with growing focus on the ‘gender health gap’, many groups are urging him to put women’s health at the forefront of new policies.

“We want to see more money for women’s health research to diagnose and treat problems more quickly and effectively,” says Janet Lindsay, chief executive of Wellbeing of Women. “We would also like to see them press workplaces to embed policies and culture that supports women’s health, so that we don’t lose talented members of the workforce due to difficulties with their reproductive and gynaecological health.”

Janet Lindsay, chief executive of Wellbeing of Women.

Janet Lindsay, chief executive of Wellbeing of Women.

One of Labour’s proposed policies requires firms with more than 250 employees to have menopause action plans in place. They will be required to publish and implement the action plans, set out how they would support employees experiencing menopause, with possible provisions including paid time off, changes to uniforms and temperature control in the workplace.

“It’s encouraging to see them commit to equal pay and protection against menopause discrimination in the workplace,” says Deborah Garlick, CEO and founder of Henpicked: Menopause In The Workplace.

Deborah Garlick, CEO and founder of Henpicked: Menopause In The Workplace

Deborah Garlick, CEO and founder of Henpicked: Menopause In The Workplace

“I’m looking forward to hearing more about what a Menopause Action Plan might contain and would welcome the opportunity to help shape it.

“It’s absolutely key this plan is not a tick-box exercise: actions must be implemented to achieve lasting change for women, our employers and country,” Garlick adds.

Domestic abuse

Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, says she is feeling positive about Labour’s approach to tacking violence against women and girls, but urges the Government to match these ideas with adequate funding.

“Women’s Aid welcomed pledges made by Labour to halve violence against women and girls within a decade of being elected, but for this promise to be delivered, urgent and sustainable investment is needed,” says Nazeer.

“The government must commit to investing £427 million per year, as a minimum, into specialist services, so that women and children get the support they deserve.”

Farah Nazeer (Ballard Final HR)

Farah Nazeer (Ballard Final HR)

Labour has also proposed to implement ‘Raneem’s Law’ – named after Raneem Oudeh, who was murdered at 22 years old by her ex-partner Janbaz Tarin in 2018 – which is aimed at transforming the way the police handle cases of violence against women and girls.

Other pledges previously announced by the party include the introduction of specialist rape and sexual assault units in every force, domestic violence call handlers in every 999 control room ,and a new “perpetrator programme” to target the 1,000 most dangerous abusers and sex offenders who pose a risk to women.

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