WEP Virtual Hustings – Redditch Constituency

WEP Virtual Hustings – Redditch Constituency

On the 1st of June we emailed 10 questions about Women’s Equality to all the candidates standing in the General Election 2017 in Worcestershire’s six constituencies.

We will post their answers here on Wednesday evening so you can see at a glance how they responded. Click on the links to see the responses.

These are the candidates for Redditch

Rachel Maclean – Conservative

Rebecca Blake – Labour

Susan Juned – Liberal Democrats

Kevin White – Green

Paul Swansborough – UKIP

Neal Stote – National Health Action Party

WEP Virtual Hustings – Mid Worcestershire Constituency

WEP Virtual Hustings – Mid Worcestershire Constituency

On the 1st of June we emailed 10 questions about Women’s Equality to all the candidates standing in the General Election 2017 in Worcestershire’s six constituencies.

We will post their answers here on Wednesday evening so you can see at a glance how they responded. Click on the links to see the responses.

These are the candidates for Mid Worcestershire

Nigel Huddlestone – Conservative

Fred Grinrod – Labour

Margaret Rowley – Liberal Democrats

Fay Whitfield – Green

David Greenwood – UKIP (messaged via UKIP mid Worcestershire Facebook page but no response)

 

WEP Virtual Hustings – Wyre Forest Constituency

WEP Virtual Hustings – Wyre Forest Constituency

On the 1st of June we emailed 10 questions about Women’s Equality to all the candidates standing in the General Election 2017 in Worcestershire’s six constituencies.

We will post their answers here on Wednesday evening so you can see at a glance how they responded. Click on the links to see the responses.

These are the candidates for Wyre Forest

Mark Garnier – Conservative

Matthew Lamb – Labour

Shazu Miah – Liberal Democrats

Brett Caulfield – Green

George Connolly – UKIP

 

Virtual Hustings – Samantha Charles’ Response

Virtual Hustings – Samantha Charles’ Response

Thank you to Samantha for responding to our questions. Samantha is the Labour party candidate for West Worcestershire.

1. A Caring Economy

What will you do to support carers – professional and family-based – and how will your social care policy understand their work as a vital social investment rather than as a financial drain? What will you do to build a caring economy?

Our social care sector is in crisis, with severe consequences for the quality of care, public finances, personal assets, pressures on unpaid carers of family and friends, often women, and delays to discharging patients from hospitals.

Care services have been slowly but relentlessly privatised. In recent years, one in ten people reaching the age of 65 have faced lifetime care costs of over £100,000, with some homeowners paying the entire value of their homes.

The Conservatives’ cuts have led to £4.6 billion lost from social care budgets, despite rising demand. Around 1.2 million older people have care needs that are going unmet. Care in the community has become a cover for unseen neglect.

In our first term, Labour will lay the foundations of a National Care Service for England.

Our first urgent task will be to address the immediate funding crisis. We will increase the social care budgets by a further £8 billion over the lifetime of the next Parliament, including an additional £1 billion for the first year. This will be enough for providers to pay a real living wage without cutting the quality of care they provide. It will allow implementation of the principles of the Ethical Care Charter, already adopted in 28 council areas, ending 15-minute care visits and providing care workers with paid travel time, access to training and an option to choose regular hours.            

Labour will also increase the Carer’s Allowance for unpaid full-time carers to align the benefit with rates of the Jobseeker’s Allowance.

2: The Impact of Brexit

What will you do to ensure that the voices of women by which we mean all women – white women and women of colour, disabled women, migrant women, LGBTQ+ women, younger and older women – are heard and their rights and needs are protected?

The Labour Party is the party of equality and seeks to build a society and world free from all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Labour has a strong record on progressing women’s rights and freedoms that we can be proud of.

Labour brought in the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, the Equality Act, the Minimum Wage and introduced Sure Start. Every progressive piece of equality legislation has been delivered by Labour.

Under the Conservatives, progress is being rolled back for women, people with disabilities, LGBT people and BAME communities. Cuts to public services and social security are landing disproportionately on women and ethnic minorities, with 86 per cent of the money raised from the Tories’ tax and social security changes coming from women’s pockets.

It was a Labour government that enshrined the rights and freedoms contained in the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, marking the birth of the Human Rights Act.

Devastating cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commissioned by the Conservatives reveal their real attitude, beyond the rhetoric, to issues of equality and discrimination. These cuts have been made amid the rise in hate crime recorded by the police in the last year. A Labour government will enhance the powers and functions of this commission, making it truly independent, to ensure it can support ordinary working people to e ectively challenge any discrimination they may face. A Labour government will reinstate the public sector equality duties and seek to extend them to the private sector, ensuring all citizens benefit from this Labour legislation.

The advances for women in Britain and around the world have been fought and won by determined women working together for real change, often in the face of resistance and even abuse.

Labour has a proud record on progressing women’s rights and freedoms. We brought in the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, the Equality Act, the Minimum Wage and introduced Sure Start. Ours will be a government for women, with a cabinet of at least 50 per cent women, which fights inequality and misogyny in every part of society.

A Labour government will gender audit all policy and legislation for its impact on women before implementation.

Labour will continue to ensure a woman’s right to choose a safe, legal abortion – and we will work with the Assembly to extend that right to women in Northern Ireland.

Violence against women and girls continues to be a global epidemic, affecting an estimated one in three women worldwide. In the UK, on average two women are killed by their current or a former partner every week. Under the Conservatives, over a third of all local authority funding to domestic and sexual violence services was already cut by 2012.

Labour will appoint a new commissioner to enforce minimum standards in tackling domestic and sexual violence.

A Violence Against Women Commissioner would also provide stable central funding for women’s refuges and rape crisis centres and encourage sharing of best practice between local authorities.

Maternity discrimination under the Conservatives is out of control, almost doubling in the past ten years. Many mothers are reluctant to raise complaints about discrimination and unfair treatment. Unlawful maternity and pregnancy discrimination is now more common in Britain’s workplaces than ever before, with 54,000 pregnant women and new mothers forced out of their jobs in 2015. Labour will reverse the unfair employment tribunal fees which literally price people out of justice. Labour will also extend the time period for applying for maternity discrimination to the employment tribunal from three to six months.

Labour will work with the Health and Safety Executive to make mandatory a workplace risk assessment for pregnant women so necessary adaptions can be made, and review support for women who have miscarriages.

3: Women & Migration

What will you do to restructure the migration system, so that it responds adequately to the gendered realities of migration, separation and multiple marginalization of women and girl refugees?

Labour offers fair rules and reasonable management of migration. In trade negotiations our priorities favour growth, jobs and prosperity. We make no apologies for putting these aims before bogus immigration targets.

Freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union. Britain’s immigration system will change, but Labour will not scapegoat migrants nor blame them for economic failures.

Labour will develop and implement fair immigration rules. We will not discriminate between people of different races, gender or creeds. We will end indefinite detentions and distinguish between migrant labour and family attachment and will continue to support the work of the Forced Marriage Unit. We will replace income thresholds with a prohibition on recourse to public funds. New rules will be equally informed by negotiations with the EU and other partners, including the Commonwealth.

Whatever our trade arrangements, we will need new migration management systems, transparent and fair to everybody. Working with businesses, trade unions, devolved governments and others to identify specific labour and skill shortages.

Working together we will institute a new system which is based on our economic needs, balancing controls and existing entitlements. This may include employer sponsorship, work permits, visa regulations or a tailored mix of all these which works for the many, not the few.

Labour will protect those already working here, whatever their ethnicity. Our National Education Service will raise the level of skills and training. We will take decisive actions to end the exploitation of migrant labour undercutting workers’ pay and conditions.

Labour will crack down on unscrupulous employers. We will stop overseas-only recruitment practices, strengthen safety-at- work inspections and increase prosecutions of employers evading the minimum wage. Working with trade unions, we will end workplace exploitation.

Labour values the economic and social contributions of immigrants. Both public and private sector employers depend on immigrants. We will not denigrate those workers. We value their contributions, including their tax contributions.

For areas where immigration has placed a strain on public services we will reinstate the Migrant Impact Fund and boost  it with a contributory element from the investments required for High Net Worth Individual Visas. Labour will restore the rights of migrant domestic workers, and end this form of modern slavery.

Labour will ease the underlying pressures in any areas struggling to cope with seven years of austerity by our programme of investments. We will not cut public services and pretend the cuts are a consequence of immigration.

Refugees are not migrants. They have been forced from their homes, by war, famine or other disasters. Unlike the Tories, we will uphold the proud British tradition of honouring the spirit of international law and our moral obligations by taking our fair share of refugees. The current arrangements for housing and dispersing refugees are not fit for purpose. They are not fair to refugees or to our communities. We will review these arrangements

4: Equal Pay

What actions will you take as Member of Parliament to close the gender pay & pensions gap?

Work should provide people with security and fulfillment. But for too many people work is insecure and does not make ends meet, especially for women.

The Conservatives boast about the recovery of employment, but our labour market is failing. Real-terms pay is still lower than before the crash, and jobs are increasingly low skilled and insecure. The gap between men and women’s pay still exists some 45 years after the Equal Pay Act.

A Labour government will invest in enforcement through a new Ministry of Labour, and empower workers and their trade unions – because we are stronger when we stand together. So we will review the rules on union recognition so that more workers have the security of a union.

At the same time as strengthening workers’ rights, including equal pay for women, we will make work more fulfilling by using public investment to upgrade our economy and create high-quality jobs. While the Conservatives stand back and allow insecure work to spread, Labour will act to guarantee good jobs and businesses.

The next Labour government will bring in a 20-point plan for security and equality at work:

  1. Give all workers equal rights from day one, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent – so that working conditions are not driven down.
  2. Ban zero hours contracts – so that every worker gets a guaranteed number of hours each week.
  3. Legislate to ensure that any employer wishing to recruit labour from abroad does not undercut workers at home – because it causes divisions when one workforce is used against another.
  4. Repeal the Trade Union Act and roll out sectoral collective bargaining – because the most e ective way to maintain good rights at work is collectively through a union.
  5. Guarantee trade unions a right to access workplaces – so that unions can speak to members and potential members.
  6. Propose four new public holidays – bringing our country together to mark our four national patron saints’ days. These will be additional to statutory holiday entitlement so that workers in Britain get the same proper breaks as in other countries.
  7. Raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage (expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020) – for all workers aged 18 or over, so that work pays.
  8. End the Public Sector Pay Cap – because public sector workers deserve a pay rise after years of falling wages.
  9. Amend the takeover code to ensure every takeover proposal has a clear plan in place to protect workers and pensioners – because workers shouldn’t su er when a company is sold.
  10. Roll out maximum pay ratios of 20:1 in the public sector and in companies bidding for public contracts – because it cannot be right that wages at the top keep rising while everyone else’s stagnates.
  11. Ban unpaid internships – because it’s not fair for some to get a leg up when others can’t afford to.
  12. Enforce all workers’ rights to trade union representation at work – so that all workers can be supported when negotiating with their employer.
  13. Abolish employment tribunal fees – so that people have access to justice.
  14. Double paid paternity leave to four weeks and increase paternity pay – because fathers are parents too and deserve to spend more time with their new babies.
  15. Strengthen protections for women against unfair redundancy – because no one should be penalised for having children.
  16. Hold a public inquiry into blacklisting – to ensure that blacklisting truly becomes and remains a thing of the past.
  17. Give equalities reps statutory rights – so they have time to protect workers from discrimination.
  18. Reinstate protection against third party harassment – because everyone deserves to be safe at work.
  19. Use public spending power to drive up standards, including only awarding public contracts to companies which recognise trade unions.
  20. Introduce a civil enforcement system to ensure compliance with gender pay auditing – so that all workers have fair access to employment and promotion opportunities and are treated fairly at work.

A Labour government will ensure Britain abides by the global Labour standards of the ILO conventions.

All workers should be able to work in a safe environment and return to their families at the end of the day. Labour will enforce regulations that save lives.

As well as legislating against zero hours contracts, there are many more workers on short hours contracts (some only guaranteed a few hours per week), but who regularly work far more. We will strengthen the law so that those who work regular hours for more than 12 weeks will have a right to a regular contract, re ecting those hours.

We will also scrap the changes brought in by the Conservatives in 2014 to TUPE, which weakened the protections for workers transferring between contractors, and we will abolish the loophole to the agency workers regulations known as the Swedish derogation.

5: Equal Education

What will you do to ensure gender becomes irrelevant in our education system and ceases to influence the life chances of all our children?

Education is what empowers us all to realise our full potential. When it fails, it isn’t just the individual that is held back, but all of us. When we invest in people to develop their skills and capabilities, we all benefit from a stronger economy and society.

At a time when working lives and the skills our economy needs are changing rapidly, governments have the responsibility to make lifelong learning a reality by giving everyone the opportunity to access education throughout their lives.

To meet this responsibility, Labour will create a unified National Education Service (NES) for England to move towards cradle-to-grave learning that is free at the point of use. The NES will be built on the principle that ‘Every Child – and Adult – Matters’ and will incorporate all forms of education, from early years through to adult education.

When the 1945 Labour government established the NHS, it created one of the central institutions of fairness of the 20th century. The NES will do the same for the 21st, giving people con dence and hope by making education a right, not a privilege for all children regardless of gender, ethnic group or background and building bridges where the Conservatives build barriers.

6: Equal Parenting

How will you work with us to implement universal childcare and our other proposals to enable all families however constituted – and in employment or self-employment – to have a full and productive family and working life?

Labour will introduce double paid paternity leave to four weeks and increase paternity pay – because fathers are parents too and deserve to spend more time with their new babies and strengthen protections against unfair redundancy – because no one should be penalised for having children.

Maternity discrimination under the Conservatives is out of control, almost doubling in the past ten years. Many mothers are reluctant to raise complaints about discrimination and unfair treatment. Unlawful maternity and pregnancy discrimination is now more common in Britain’s workplaces than ever before, with 54,000 pregnant women and new mothers forced out of their jobs in 2015. Labour will reverse the unfair employment tribunal fees which literally price people out of justice. Labour will also extend the time period for applying for maternity discrimination to the employment tribunal from three to six months.

Labour will work with the Health and Safety Executive to make mandatory a workplace risk assessment for pregnant women so necessary adaptions can be made, and review support for women who have miscarriages.

7: WE require an end to violence against women and girls.

What will you do to ensure that women are safe in their homes, at work, study and in public, that they are believed when they report violence and harassment? What will you do to stamp out the culture that blames the victim and to reinstate vital women’s services that protect and support women and girls fleeing abuse?

Violence against women and girls continues to be a global epidemic, a ecting an estimated one in three women worldwide. In the UK, on average two women are killed by their current or a former partner every week. Under the Conservatives, over a third of all local authority funding to domestic and sexual violence services was already cut by 2012.

Labour will appoint a new commissioner to enforce minimum standards in tackling domestic and sexual violence.

A Violence Against Women Commissioner would also provide stable central funding for women’s refuges and rape crisis centres and encourage sharing of best practice between local authorities.

8: Equal Representation:

What will you do as an MP to ensure that women are elected, appointed and promoted at all levels in politics, business, arts, culture, sports, education/academia?

The advances for women in Britain and around the world have been fought and won by determined women working together for real change, often in the face of resistance and even abuse.

Labour has a proud record on progressing women’s rights and freedoms. We brought in the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, the Equality Act, the Minimum Wage and introduced Sure Start. Ours will be a government for women, with a cabinet of at least 50 per cent women, which fights inequality and misogyny in every part of society.

A Labour government will gender audit all policy and legislation for its impact on women before implementation.

9: Equal Health 

 What are your proposals to create a health service that recognizes gender difference and offers equality of care and research for all?

We will guarantee and uphold the standards of service to which patients are legally entitled under the NHS constitution.

By guaranteeing access to treatment within 18 weeks, we will take one million people off NHS waiting lists by the end of the next Parliament. We will guarantee that patients can be seen in A&E within four hours.

By properly resourcing the NHS, Labour will stop the routine breach of safe levels of bed occupancy, and we will end mixed-sex wards

10: Equality in the Media

How will you hold the media up to scrutiny and challenge the reductive gender stereotyping which it perpetuates? How will you act to end the attempts to suppress women’s and minority voices on social media?

 

We will improve diversity on and off – screen, working with the lm industry and public service and commercial broadcasters to end rapid solutions to improve diversity.

The Labour Party is the party of equality and seeks to build a society and world free from all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Labour has a strong record on progressing women’s rights and freedoms that we can be proud of.

 

 

Virtual Hustings – Worcester Green Party Response

Virtual Hustings – Worcester Green Party Response

Thank you to Marjory Bissett & Sally Nall for responding to our questions. Marjory is the Chair of Worcester Green party responding on behalf of Louis Stephen Green candidate for Worcester.

1. A Caring Economy

What will you do to support carers – professional and family-based – and how will your social care policy understand their work as a vital social investment rather than as a financial drain? What will you do to build a caring economy?

The Green Party has always been committed to equality of opportunity. We recognise that the burden of caring work, both paid and unpaid, falls disproportionately on women. In part one of our Green Guarantee 2017, we outline key manifesto points which would play a part in addressing this issue1.

  • Take steps towards the introduction of a universal basic income, including a government sponsored pilot scheme, to increase security and avoid the poverty trap.
  • Phase in a four-day working week (a maximum of 35 hours) and abolish exploitative zero hours contracts.
  • Reduce the gap between the highest and lowest paid, and increase the minimum wage to reach a genuine living wage of £10 an hour by 2020.
  • Support and promote small businesses, co-operatives and mutuals, and the roll out of high speed broadband.

Since women tend to take on the bulk of caring responsibility for sick family members, sometimes having to go so far as to take sick days themselves to provide emergency care, and very often taking on almost all the responsibility for caring for disabled children, elderly relatives and partners, we would vastly improve health and social care by properly funding our NHS. In part four of our Green Guarantee, we make manifesto pledges to this effect2.

  • Close the NHS spending gap and provide an immediate cash injection, to ensure everyone can access a GP, hospitals can run properly, and staff are fairly paid.
  • Major investment in social care for the elderly and all those who need it.
  • Increase funding for local authorities so they can provide good quality public services and invest in our communities, creating thousands of jobs. A single budget covering health and social services, to make life easier for people who need to access several types of service.
  • We will review the effectiveness of how public services are structured, sensitive to the needs of all people, including assessment of how care is provided at the transition age of 18.
  • Redress benefits injustice with a social security system that gives everyone confidence they will get support when they need it, including disabled people.

In 2016, Worcestershire Mums’ Network organised a protest at County Hall against cuts to children’s centres 3. This protest was attended by Green Party candidate Louis Stephen, and was supported in the vote by county councillors Matthew Jenkins and John Raine 4. There was support for the protest from the local Green Party on social media as well as in person 5.

The Green Party would support parents by providing free universal early education and childcare from age one until the age the child starts school.

We recognise the value of work done by carers, and would significantly increase investment in social care and support for those (usually women) who take on this role 6.

2: The Impact of Brexit

What will you do to ensure that the voices of women by which we mean all women – white women and women of colour, disabled women, migrant women, LGBTQ+ women, younger and older women – are heard and their rights and needs are protected?

We think that BREXIT is not a foregone conclusion. The question posed in the referendum was very simple. We believe that once the terms of the deal are known, there should be a second referendum so that the people decide whether to take the deal or stay in the EU 7.

We would fight to keep the national debate honest.

We would:

  • Take action to tackle racism and discrimination on the basis of faith, real equality for LGBTIQA+ people, equal rights for mixed gender couples to have a Civil Partnership 8
  • Implement a humane immigration and asylum system that recognises and takes responsibility for Britain’s ongoing role in causing the flow of migrants worldwide 9
  • Implement a UK-wide strategy to tackle gender based violence, including domestic violence, rape and sexual abuse, FGM and trafficking.


3: Women & Migration

What will you do to restructure the migration system, so that it responds adequately to the gendered realities of migration, separation and multiple marginalization of women and girl refugees?

The Green Party campaigned to remain in the EU, and will continue to put pressure on those involved in Brexit negotiations to protect the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK and to seek reciprocal arrangements for UK citizens living in the EU.

This will protect people of all genders, but will be of particular importance to women, as it would resist the splitting up of families, and as women provide the majority of childcare, they will be in a precarious situation if the family is split and they effectively become single mothers 10.

We recognise that women are more likely than men to be trapped in abusive relationships, due to higher reliance on men (often part of financial abuse), and that the difficulties women face in finding any employment, let alone well-paid employment, can force women to stay in unsafe relationships by necessity.

Implementing a Universal Income would make it easier for women to escape abusive relationships, as they would have a guaranteed income. Our support for start-up companies, small businesses, and creative enterprises would make women more able to create employment for themselves, and our universal childcare from age one to the age the child starts school would help mothers to thrive, should they choose to find employment outside the home1112.

The Green Party will prosecute cases of female genital mutilation (FGM), but also prevent them. We would do this by implementing the recommendations made by the Home Affairs Committee to introduce compulsory PSHE, which includes FGM 13 14.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas tabled a Bill in Parliament to introduce PSHE in all schools, saying, ‘It is vital that young women and men are given education designed to end gender-based violence and that young women are empowered and given a framework within which to discuss their own fears and experiences of FGM’.

Caroline Lucas also wrote to the then Home Secretary Theresa May, to call on the Government to introduce mandatory training on FGM as part of child protection15.

The Green Party recognises that not all migration is legal, but that this in no way detracts from the fundamental human rights of the people who have come here. We would push for a humane immigration and asylum system 16.

Women claiming asylum can sometimes find themselves victimised by the very system which should be protecting them. Our 2017 Women’s Manifesto seeks to tackle the problems caused by immigration detention in these key ways:17

  • Immediately act to protect the most vulnerable asylum seekers who have experienced rape, sexual abuse or torture, by allowing their clams to be processed in the community
  • Implement a three-month maximum processing time for asylum applications
  • Fund integrated support for asylum seekers
  • Abolish immigration detention centres to enable all claims to be processed in the community

The issue of illegal immigration is complex, nuanced, and too large to go into in its entirely here, so the focus will be on one of the most insidious forms of violence against women – trafficking.

Fees demanded by traffickers often place trafficked people and their families in debt. In some countries, this extends to debt bondage. By placing trafficked people in debt bondage, or by exploiting their vulnerable status in a country in which they now live illegally and often without knowledge of local language, traffickers force those who have been trafficked into activities in which they would not otherwise engage. Some are forced to work for a pittance, some into domestic servitude, some, particularly women, into the sex industry, and some into crime.

The Green Party considers that such trafficking in human beings is a gross violation of human rights. Any proposals to deal with this problem should not further victimise those who are already its victims.

The Government should recognise that those who have been trafficked are the victims of human rights violations and potential witnesses to criminal investigations and prosecutions of the traffickers. Victims should not be subject to summary deportation or expulsion on the grounds of illegal or irregular entry into or residence in the country. Nor should they be prosecuted for any lack of identity documents or other minor offences which are directly attributable to their position as a victim of trafficking 18.

In our 2017 Women’s Manifesto, we introduced pledges designed to tackle the problems faced by women who find themselves in this situation. Although we would decriminalise all consensual sex work, in line with research from Amnesty International and the UN, not all sex-workers are willing participants and we must protect them too 19. We would amend existing criminal records held by sex-workers, and push for zero tolerance of coercion, violence, and sexual abuse.

4: Equal Pay

What actions will you take as Member of Parliament to close the gender pay & pensions gap?

We would end the gender pay gap, and require a minimum 40% of all members of public company and public sector boards to be women 20.

On pensions we would redress pension injustice, with a pensions system for everyone and action to enable older people to continue to be active members of society 21.

5: Equal Education

What will you do to ensure gender becomes irrelevant in our education system and ceases to influence the life chances of all our children?

The Greens pledged to end “period poverty” by providing towels and tampons to secondary school pupils5152.

Emotional literacy and well-being, social skills and physical well-being including education in sex and relationships which will build on existing good practice. This will be achieved through a broad learning environment and through more rigorous teacher training which focuses on these issues

We will teach practical life skills such as basic cooking, DIY skills, first aid, and managing of bank accounts. Children of all genders should learn these skills, rather than continuing to have skills segregated along gender lines.

We will provide education in social skills and relationships through cooperative and participative learning including group work in all areas of the curriculum and which encourages responsibility in young people, for example by enabling them to organise trips and activities.

Schools will be free from advertising and marketing, where the values and stereotypes employed in advertising and marketing can be explored, discussed and, where necessary, challenged.

As part of their duty of care schools will have strong and effective anti-bullying policies which will recognise the vulnerabilities of children from different backgrounds to the majority of pupils or who are LGBTIQA+ or have learning disabilities.

Equality and diversity will be monitored in recruitment and staff development for teaching and other educational staff.

In higher education, we require a commitment by employers to address the gender pay gap with immediate effect.

Universities will offer real support to mature students and students with families. There will be a minimum requirement for Universities and Higher Education Institutions to offer a free crèche to students and staff, nappy changing and breast-feeding facilities as well as religious facilities such as prayer spaces to cater for people from a wide range of ages, religions and ethnic backgrounds.

Accessibility will be addressed through a combination of these institutions offering Widening Participation Programmes and creating a series of firm targets which will ensure increased social diversity53.

The Green Party has consistently pushed for proper sex and relationship education (SRE). SRE should be age-appropriate, start at a sufficiently early age and continue throughout young people’s education. As part of the SRE curriculum, children should be fully aware of puberty before it happens, relationships should be taught as well as the physical aspects of sex and the potential consequences of sex before sexual activity begins. As part of SRE access to sexual health services should be made available in secondary schools, either on site or integrated with local young people’s sexual health services535455.

We will abolish the requirement for a compulsory daily act of worship. Schools which choose to continue to hold acts of worship will provide an alternative activity for learners who choose not to take part. Pupils who do not participate in worship will not suffer any form of discrimination.

Religious instruction, as distinct from religious education in understanding different religions may only take place outside of school curriculum time.

No publicly-funded school shall be run by a religious organisation. Schools may teach about religions, comparing examples which originated in each continent, but are prohibited from delivering religious instruction in any form or encouraging adherence to any particular religious belief.

Privately-funded schools run by religious organisations must reflect the inclusive nature of British society and become part of the Local Authority admissions system. This non-discriminatory approach will be extended to staff who must not be discriminated against in faith schools due to their own faith either in seeking employment or during employment.

Opt-outs from equality and diversity legislation will not be allowed for faith schools and they will not be permitted to promote homophobia or transphobia on the grounds of religion5356.

6: Equal Parenting

How will you work with us to implement universal childcare and our other proposals to enable all families however constituted – and in employment or self-employment – to have a full and productive family and working life?

The Green Party would provide free universal early education and childcare for all children, with formal education starting at age 722.

We would work to reduce the inequality in our society that holds people back. You can find many relevant polices in our manifesto, such as:

On the economy we would :

  • Take steps towards the introduction of a universal basic income, including a government sponsored pilot scheme, as a means to increase security and avoid the poverty trap.
  • Phase in a 4 day working week (a maximum of 35 hours) and abolish exploitative zero hours contracts.
  • Reduce the gap between the highest and lowest paid, and increase the minimum wage to reach a genuine living wage of £10 an hour by 2020 23.
    On housing we would implement:

A living rent for all through rent controls and more secure tenancies for private renters, an end to letting fees and the introduction of mandatory licensing for all landlords.
A major programme to build affordable, zero carbon homes, including 100,000 social rented homes each year by 2022.

7: WE require an end to violence against women and girls.

What will you do to ensure that women are safe in their homes, at work, study and in public, that they are believed when they report violence and harassment? What will you do to stamp out the culture that blames the victim and to reinstate vital women’s services that protect and support women and girls fleeing abuse?

The Green Party takes this issue very seriously. There are many connected reasons why domestic violence continues in the UK at high rates. One is the underlying high level of inequality in the UK. Studies have shown that violence is higher in unequal societies. The Green Party will fight for equality 24.

We have comprehensive policies for reducing domestic violence 25.

We will adopt a comprehensive strategy for reducing and ultimately ending hate crime, wherever it occurs 26.

We believe that education in the UK is inadequate when it comes to teaching children about emotional literacy and relationships. We would put this right 27.

8: Equal Representation

What will you do as an MP to ensure that women are elected, appointed and promoted at all levels in politics, business, arts, culture, sports, education/academia?

The Green Party had a fine track record in this area, with our one MP, our one member of the House of Lords, two of our three MEPs, and our two London Assembly members all women. Our best hopes for winning new seats in this election are all women too. When we select candidates, we try as hard as possible to achieve a 50/50 balance.

The Green Party would improve female engagement and involvement in politics. We would:

  • Introduce proportional representation (PR) for general elections and local elections. This in itself would increase the number of woman candidates, MPs and local councillors.
  • Increase diversity in representative politics, with job-shares, a 50/50 Parliament, and replacing the House of Lords with an elected second chamber
  • Enable every young person to take an active role in democracy, introducing non-biased political education and promoting active citizenship 28

By reducing general equality, we believe we would provide the conditions for women to thrive and compete equally. More equal societies tend to have more female representatives in politics, business etc. 29 Our education polices would also help to reduce the current levels of discrimination against women.

9: Equal Health 

 What are your proposals to create a health service that recognizes gender difference and offers equality of care and research for all?

Scientific research is vital for any society to flourish. Scientists and doctors are the grown-up versions of the children who took apart their toys to see how they worked, and never stopped asking, “Why?” Whilst great strides have been made in terms of representation of women in medicine and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) fields, we still have a gulf to cross if we are to see gender parity in these professions, and the way to cross that gulf is to encourage girls to maintain their interest in science and maths while they are still in school.

The Green Party is aware of the ways in which girls can be discouraged from pursuing an interest in science, perhaps feeling that science is ‘for boys’. In September 2016, The Green Party’s equalities spokesperson Sarah Cope campaigned for an exhibit in the Science Museum to be changed, as it showed ‘male’ brains and ‘female’ brains (naturally, they displayed these as blue and pink respectively), despite there not being enough evidence of gender disparity in brains to merit such a distinction. Cope stated that, ““It’s really disappointing to see the Science Museum reinforcing outdated gender stereotypes in this way. The idea of gendered brains is dubious science at best, and this kind of sexism – telling girls at a young age that they have feminine brains – is part of the reason why boys still dominate STEM subjects and less than 10% of engineers in the UK are women” 30.

The obstacles thrown up in education do not end in school. When women enter higher education, they may be negatively affected by sexual harassment, which is why our 2017 Women’s Manifesto contains the pledge:  

‘Make universities and colleges safe places to learn Higher and further educational establishments will develop clear student-led policies to combat sexual abuse and harassment. These will include the requirement to monitor levels of sexual violence, and training for both staff and to enable peer-to-peer support.’31

After completing years of training to become qualified in STEM and medical subjects, the next challenge is to find a job. Funding for research is woefully inadequate in the UK, with much of the funding coming from the EU. The looming spectre of Brexit has hit science hard, and the Green Party is committed to giving the British public a say on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.  32

Not only would the drop in funding hurt our science base, but it would have potentially disastrous consequences for collaboration on scientific research between UK and EU citizens. The Green Party is firm on our commitment to ensuring rights for EU citizens living in the UK 33.

In addition to this, the Green Party would increase funding for science. 34

Green party spokesman, James Abbott, who studied astronomy, said his party would double the amount that government spends on research and development, to about 1% of GDP – a commitment that, so far, no other party has made. “We are going to need the best scientists with the best technology in order to deal with some of the very serious issues we face as a society globally, so we are absolutely passionate – but also for learning about science and enjoying it in its own right”. 35

We would also Create Green jobs for more women in STEM in renewables and sustainability. Currently, just 5% of engineering apprentices are women. The Green Party would ensure that the roll-out of Green Jobs would be accompanied by specific initiatives to train and encourage young women to fill these roles.

As outlined above, appropriate education in schools is vital if we want our children to flourish, and that’s why we think that there should be compulsory Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) in schools.36

This will ensure children have knowledge of a variety of topics, including sexual health. Sex and relationship education is essential for all children, and especially for girls, as girls have the most to gain from all genders learning about birth control, abortion, sexual coercion, sexual violence, and consent.

We would also extend the HPV vaccine to include vaccination for boys.  

Another obstacle girls can face is period poverty, which we would end by providing sanitary products in schools. Girls should not have to miss out of education because they can’t afford sanitary products. 37

The Green Party launched a dedicated Mental Health Manifesto in 2017, which will roll out of new school-based therapy to treat mental ill health earlier and awareness and empathy education to limit the likelihood of bullying.

We will also give mental health parity of esteem with physical health and make sure everyone who needs psychological therapy receives it within 28 days of being referred [9].38

Mental health is a gendered issue.  

Women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders, and are also more likely to be diagnosed with other common mental health problems.  

Those who are trans, identify as non-binary and/ or express themselves in ways that challenge stereotypical ideas about gender also face high levels of mental health problems. It is estimated that 40% of non-binary people in the UK have attempted suicide.  

Despite the clear documentation of the disproportionate impact mental health problems have on our wellbeing compared to other illnesses, funding is falling further and further behind.  

The Green Party would:

  • Bring spending on mental health care in line with spending on physical health care. Targets should be introduced for speed of access to mental health services, bringing mental health care in line with other serious health issues. This includes a maximum wait time between referral and initial appointment for psychological therapies. »  
  • Recognise the need for specialist services.
  • We would ensure that community specific mental health programs for those who are LGBTIQA+ are well funded.  
  • We would also reduce barriers for people of colour receiving care by funding community specific outreach programs, focused upon raising awareness and reducing stigma of mental health problems.

Local candidate Louis Stephen has frequently spoken about the need to address mental health funding seriously, and co-leader Jonathan Bartley and deputy leader Amelia Womack chose Worcester as the place to unveil the Green Party Mental Health Manifesto. 39

Leading on from mental health provision, women are far more likely than men to be carers for friends and family, so we would support carers by progressively increase Carer’s Allowance, until everyone is given a basic income to support themselves. E would also increase funding for social services, both through central funding and an increase in funding to councils who provide these services. By providing enough funding for proper implementation of the 2014 Care Act, we will be able to provide disabled people with the support they may need to find and stay in employment, as well as providing much needed support to unpaid, mostly female, carers who are currently trying to fill in the gaps.

The local Green Party opposed cuts to children’s centres. The protest in 2016 was organised by Worcestershire Mums’ Network, attended by Green Party candidate Louis Stephen, and was supported in the vote by county councillors Matthew Jenkins and John Raine. 40

Children’s centres can offer a lifeline to parents, and are a vital resource for mothers, as workers can offer support with many issues such as breastfeeding, as well as identifying health issues such as post-natal depression and post-partum psychosis 41

The Green Party will properly fund maternity services, and work to normalise breastfeeding, including improving education in schools, public awareness campaigns, and reassurances given by breastfeeding counsellors regarding the legitimacy of public breastfeeding 42.

Green MP Caroline Lucas has consistently voted in favour of women’s reproductive rights.

As Green MP Caroline Lucas said, “In the male-dominated fields of politics and science, Petra Kelly and Rachel Carson influenced – even shifted – entrenched patterns of thought. They didn’t ‘step outside the box’: they re-formed it from within”43.

10: Equality in the Media

How will you hold the media up to scrutiny and challenge the reductive gender stereotyping which it perpetuates? How will you act to end the attempts to suppress women’s and minority voices on social media?

Sexism affects people of all genders throughout their lives, which is why the Green Party would seek to tackle this early on in schools. In our 2017 Women’s Manifesto, we pledged to: 

  • Promote discussion of the gendered and racial stereotypes employed in the media and wider society, to allow children to better understand society and themselves.  
  • Address gender stereotypes, homophobia and transphobia in society, initiating public education programs both in schools and wider society.  
  • Connect schools with community-led education initiatives to tackle the causes of prejudice and to increase awareness of the value of diverse cultures and genders 44.

The Green Party has a proud history of holding the media to account for sexism. 

Green MP Caroline Lucas has campaigned for an end to sexism in the media for years.  

“From the Sun’s regressive Page 3, the Daily Mail’s dissection of women and girls into ‘curves’ and ‘pins’, or rape and abuse cases being reported next to pictures of half-naked women, our media routinely sends out damaging messages about the place of women and girls in society. 

“With violence against women taking place on such an alarming scale, the Government and the industry must now take action to challenge the cavalier attitudes within the media industry which often lead to the trivialisation of sexual violence and abuse. 

“This should involve the restriction of the sexually explicit and objectifying images which have become unacceptably commonplace in our newspapers and magazines, as well as specialist training for journalists on the reporting of violence against women and girls. 

“Given the scale of the problem, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee should also carry out a full inquiry into sexism across the media.”45

In 2013, Caroline Lucas debated former Sun and News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis on the BBC’s Daily Politics, speaking against the, “daily drip drip objectification of women”, and said it was not appropriate for children to see the topless pictures. 46

In a House of Commons debate on sexism in the media, Caroline Lucas was told to cover up a T-shirt displaying the slogan “No More Page Three” in large lettering during a Commons debate.  

She defended her support for the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign by saying, “It does strike me as a certain irony that this T-shirt is regarded as an inappropriate thing to be wearing in this House, whereas apparently it is appropriate for this kind of newspaper to be available to buy in eight different outlets on the Palace of Westminster estate.”  4748

Amelia Womack, Green Party deputy leader, submitted a formal complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation over the Daily Mail’s ‘Legs-it’ headline.  49

She accused the newspaper of breaching the Editors’ Code of Practice by discriminating against Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May because of their gender, stating:  

“Female leaders deserve to be treated with respect, not contempt, and I call on the editor of the Daily Mail to apologise to the Prime Minister and First Minister, and to all of the young women aspiring to be politicians who want to be recognised for their knowledge and achievements, not the shimmer of their legs.”  50

The Green Party will continue to fight sexism in the media, and to promote equal and fair representation of women. 

  1. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/a- green-economy- for-everyone.html
  2. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/our- nhs-and- public-services.html
  3. http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/14737808.Protest_planned_at_County_Hall_over_children___s_centres_____as_Labour_compares_cuts_to_The_ARCHERS/
  4. http://www.redditchadvertiser.co.uk/news/14747881.Bid_to_block_children_s_centre_cuts_voted_out_in_heated_council_meeting/
  5. https://twitter.com/NeilGreenMidWor/status/781861539338915843
  6. https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/sw.html
  7. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/membership- of-the- eu.html
  8. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/a- citizens-democracy.html
  9. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/a- safer-world.html
  10. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/membership- of-the- eu.html
  11. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/a- green-economy- for-everyone.html
  12. https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/sw.html
  13. https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmhaff/201/20106.htm#a10
  14. https://www.carolinelucas.com/latest/prevent-and- prosecute
  15. https://www.carolinelucas.com//caroline/parliament/letter/letter-to- rt-hon- theresa-may- mp-fgm
  16. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/a- safer-world.html
  17. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2017/05/13/green-party- pledges-to- end-immigration- detention-at-womens-manifesto- launch-at- yarls-wood/
  18. https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mg.html
  19. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/05/amnesty-international-publishes-policy-and-research-on-protection-of-sex-workers-rights/
  20. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/a-green-economy-for-everyone.html
  21. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/our-nhs-and-public-services.html
  22. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/education-for-all.html
  23. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/a-green-economy-for-everyone
  24. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/
  25. https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/cj.html. See paragraphs CJ352-CJ359.
  26. https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/cj.html See paragraph CJ350
  27. https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ed.html See para ED041
  28. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/a-citizens-democracy.html
  29. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/saadia-zahidi/what-makes-the-nordic-cou_b_4159555.html
  30. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2016/09/14/green-equalities-spokesperson-calls-for-science-museum-to-remove-sexist-brain-exhibit/
  31. https://greenpartywomen.org.uk/assets/files/gpwomen-files/Women’s%20Manifesto%20online%20(2).pdf
  32. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/green-party-brexit-second-referendum-caroline-lucas-final-deal-a7712881.html
  33. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/green-party-brexit-second-referendum-caroline-lucas-final-deal-a7712881.html
  34. https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/st.html
  35. https://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2015/apr/10/what-are-parties-saying-about-science-policy-ahead-of-the-election
  36. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/caroline-lucas-to-present-pshe-bill-to-parliament.html
  37. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-39943496
  38. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2017/05/10/green-party-pledges-equal-treatment-for-physical-and-mental-health/
  39. http://www.louisstephen.co.uk/2010/10/a-green-guide-to-the-cuts/
  40. http://www.redditchadvertiser.co.uk/news/14747881.Bid_to_block_children_s_centre_cuts_voted_out_in_heated_council_meeting/
  41. http://www.barnardos.org.uk/15733_what_are_children_s_centres_for_report_v2_hr.pdf
  42. https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/24910/caroline_lucas/brighton%2C_pavilion/votes
  43. https://www.zedbooks.net/blog/posts/women-will-save-planet-caroline-lucas-green/
  44. https://greenpartywomen.org.uk/assets/files/gpwomen-files/Women’s%20Manifesto%20online%20(2).pdf
  45. https://www.carolinelucas.com/latest/stop-the-rot-of-media-sexism-to-tackle-violence-against-women-and-girls-ministers-told
  46. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-23306155/page-three-and-sexism-caroline-lucas-and-neil-wallis
  47. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22873790
  48. https://nomorepage3.wordpress.com/
  49. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39416554
  50. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2017/03/28/green-party-files-complaint-over-daily-mail%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98legs-it%E2%80%99-headline/
  51. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-39943496
  52. http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/green-party-promise-end-period-63547
  53. https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ed.html
  54. http://greenpartywomen.org.uk/news/greens-call-for-show-of-strength-from-mps-to-oppose-nadine-dorries-victorian-sex-education-bill.html
  55. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/caroline-lucas-to-present-pshe-bill-to-parliament.html
  56. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/feb/10/green-party-education-policies-general-election
WEP Virtual Hustings – Worcester Constituency

WEP Virtual Hustings – Worcester Constituency

On the 1st of June we emailed 10 questions about Women’s Equality to all the candidates standing in the General Election 2017 in Worcestershire’s six constituencies.

We will post their answers here on Wednesday evening so you can see at a glance how they responded. Click on the links to see the responses.

These are the candidates for Worcester

Robin Walker – Conservative

Joy Squires – Labour

Stephen Kearney – Liberal Democrats

Louis Stephen – Green

Paul Hickling – UKIP

Alex Rugg – Independent

Mark Shuker – Independent: Compass

Virtual Hustings – Stephen Kearney’s Response

Virtual Hustings – Stephen Kearney’s Response

Thank you to Stephen for responding to our questions. Stephen is the Lib Dem party candidate for Worcester.

1. A Caring Economy

What will you do to support carers – professional and family-based – and how will your social care policy understand their work as a vital social investment rather than as a financial drain? What will you do to build a caring economy?

The Liberal Democrats recognise the vital role of carers. We will develop personal care budgets designed around the care needs of the individual. We will implement a cap on social care and fund needs over and above the cap of £72,000. From our manifesto:

  • We will fund vital services sustainably supporting and valuing health and care workers, joining up health and social care so people are able to live at home.
  • Ensure those who work in the social care sector are properly trained, with accessible career pathways, and are suitable to practice by introducing a statutory code of conduct backed up by a care workers’ suitability register.
  • Raise the amount people can earn before losing Carer’s Allowance from £110 to £150 a week, and reduce the number of hours’ care per week required to qualify.
  • People on zero hour contracts will be be able to request a formal contract and be protected by law. We will stamp out abuse.

2: The Impact of Brexit

What will you do to ensure that the voices of women by which we mean all women – white women and women of colour, disabled women, migrant women, LGBTQ+ women, younger and older women – are heard and their rights and needs are protected?

We will protect the rights of EU and UK Citizens and defend the rights and equalities. We will defend the rights of woman to maternity and annual leave.

We will give people the opportunity to vote on the final deal. In my view Brexit will be a disaster for the rights of women and others. The Royal Prerogative will give the Government an opportunity to change current protective legislation without consulting with Parliament. People that actually care about human rights are about to get very busy.

3: Women & Migration

What will you do to restructure the migration system, so that it responds adequately to the gendered realities of migration, separation and multiple marginalization of women and girl refugees?

In Worcester I would like to see a Worcester Parliament that draws people together with expertise to discuss, debate and propose and brief the MP and then hold that person to account on the matter. Such a Parliament would integrate debate and lobbying with planning and proposing sustainable solutions to problems. Equality would be at the heart of this work.

 

4: Equal Pay

What actions will you take as Member of Parliament to close the gender pay & pensions gap?

I would work toward legislating to right this wrong and develop a programme of equality awareness. It’s simply wrong.

5: Equal Education

What will you do to ensure gender becomes irrelevant in our education system and ceases to influence the life chances of all our children?

Children need to be facilitated to help them decide what they want to explore during their time at school. They need to supported to gently find their vocation what ever that is.
I believe in a model of experiential learning – a teacher facilitates and does not dictate or influence because of their own stereotypical education. In my opinion colleges and universities have a duty to educate people about this.

6: Equal Parenting

How will you work with us to implement universal childcare and our other proposals to enable all families however constituted – and in employment or self-employment – to have a full and productive family and working life?

We will fund a programme of extensive childcare and support with a view to encouraging woman into the work place  and implement a policy of shared paternal leave.
We will provide 15 hours free childcare 9 months to two years.
30 hours free childcare 2-4 to help to afford work.
We will extend free childcare to all 2 year olds and children of working families to encourage fathers to take time off.

7: WE require an end to violence against women and girls.

What will you do to ensure that women are safe in their homes, at work, study and in public, that they are believed when they report violence and harassment? What will you do to stamp out the culture that blames the victim and to reinstate vital women’s services that protect and support women and girls fleeing abuse?

We will introduce a victims bill of rights and a woman’s justice board to advice on policy development. We need to work on the root causes of these problems and make proposals to tackle them. In my view this  would affect education, Health, Policing and judiciary policies.
Specifically we would:

  • Conduct an urgent and comprehensive review  of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of offenders Act on access to justice,particularly funding for social welfare appeals, and domestic violence and exceptional cases.

 

8: Equal Representation

What will you do as an MP to ensure that women are elected, appointed and promoted at all levels in politics, business, arts, culture, sports, education/academia?

We will punish discrimination drive diversity in public office and business. Businesses must publish data on gender and Black and Minority Ethnic recruitment.
We positively discriminate in favour of women in winnable constituencies.

 

 

 

9: Equal Health 

 What are your proposals to create a health service that recognizes gender difference and offers equality of care and research for all?

I will resist creeping privatisation of the health service so that a strong NHS can implement equalities practices as guided by government. Healthcare companies would not be able to do this in a coordinated way. I would also encourage education on this point in medical schools.

10: Equality in the Media

How will you hold the media up to scrutiny and challenge the reductive gender stereotyping which it perpetuates? How will you act to end the attempts to suppress women’s and minority voices on social media?

Suppression of woman’s and minority voices needs to be challenged under law and the freedom of speech protected. Media select committee needs to develop its roll and scrutinise the actions of media outlets that harm people and hold them to account. That could involve bringing in legislation!