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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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‘Today’s Women’ Tour

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

At the latest event organised as part of the nationwide tour of ‘Today’s Women’ held in London, Meg gave the following remarks. For further details visit: https://secure.symphonyem.co.uk/todayswoman/survey/

 

I first want to say how grateful I am to you, for coming along this evening. Of course, the news about the drinks at the end probably helped! Seriously, I know how precious evenings can be for working women, so very many thanks.

 

Women’s lives have changed immensely in the last decade or so - and the pace of change is likely to increase.  Government and the public services need to change in order to keep pace with what is required today, what will be required tomorrow. The services we provide, whether as government, working in a public service, or even a trade union, have to be responsive to what the public want, what they will accept.

 

Working women have an important and expanding place in British society today. Their role cannot be valued enough; their efforts underpin the economy and our community’s everyday.

 

In 1999, the then Ministers for Women led a series of ‘Listening to Women’ events. The outcome of those directly informed the development of the government’s policies that we have today; policies that have had a positive impact on women’s lives.

 

Just to mention:

  • increased maternity and paternity rights,
  • new domestic violence and sexual assault legislation,
  • the right to request flexible working and,
  • child and family tax credits. 

 

But we live in a dynamic society, where what we do, how we organise our lives is constantly changing. Consequently we decided to set-up a new series of events under the title of ‘Today’s Women’.

 

This is the fourth in a series of events specifically for women. We want to hear first hand what the burning issues are for you.  Tonight in particular, as we are all working women, how you juggle work and families. I am particularly interested in your thoughts about the recommendations from the Women and Work Commission Report ‘Shaping a Fairer Future’. 

 

We are privileged to have a commissioner here today, Kay Carberry, who worked on the report for over a year. Her contributions were invaluable in the final publication.   

 

The Women and Work Commission was set up to find solutions to the causes of the gender pay gap.  They described a complicated picture which begins when girls make their choices of subjects to study at school, continuing with the difficulties women face in combining work and family life.  Research for the Commission found that nearly half of women workers with children under five are in jobs that under-utilise their skills. 

 

The Report makes 40 recommendations including:

  • improving the information and advice girls receive about careers - including about rates of pay;
  • encouraging flexible and part-time working in more senior roles;
  • increasing the flexibility of training and childcare;
  • helping women return to work after a break for family care into good quality jobs; and
  • promoting opportunities for women at all stages of life through improved access to skills training and developing career paths, particularly for part-time workers.    

 

We are examining how to put the recommendations from the report into action. That is why you are here today - to put your stamp on these recommendations, to tell me directly what you think works, what doesn’t, and provide your ideas and suggestions. 

 

There is also an interactive website - www.todayswoman.org.uk where you can let your views be known.  Please tell your colleagues, your friends, your family, your neighbours about this and ask them to take this opportunity to shape future government policy.

 

I hope that you will use the opportunity to be open - this is your chance to make a difference.

 

I’ll now give you back to Kay to explain about the process here tonight.


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