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<p>&nbsp;</p> <p></p> <p class="MsoNormal ImmTextAlign_Center">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Good morning everyone. First and foremost let me say thank you. Thank you to Barclays for hosting us and for your continuing support of this initiative. Thank you to all those other companies leading the way this year &ndash; especially to Burberry, Diageo, British Airways and Pearson who have made it to the very top of the list. And the biggest thank you of all goes to Susan, Ruth, Jacey and Elena for putting their life and soul into producing this very important and robust piece of analysis.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Current Situation</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Susan and Ruth who co-founded the report have been doing this for twelve years now. They do an excellent, excellent job. By shining a light on the lack of women in the boardroom, it has drawn attention to an issue that didn&rsquo;t even get a look in - that wasn&rsquo;t even considered before. But, and it saddens me to say this, I often think they must be amongst the worst sufferers of d&eacute;j&agrave; vu!</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I&nbsp;do not want to take away from the achievements of those companies that have made a change or the talented women who have made it to the top. There is some really excellent work going on &ndash; including mentoring schemes, sponsorship of internal women&rsquo;s networks and leadership programmes.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">But the report shows us much more needs to be done because overall the pace of change has been painfully slow. This year we are up from 12.2% of FTSE 100 Directors to just 12.5% over the past year. And this 12% mark is a figure we have been stuck at for the last three years.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Change in strategy</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">And so the question is how can we ensure that next year, and even in five, ten, twenty years time we will see the number of women in the boardroom continue to rise, and rise somewhat more rapidly?</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I believe the answer to this question lies in a change of strategy.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I am not going to criticise everything the last government did because I believe their intention was right. Where they went wrong is with the techniques they used.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Top-down. Centralising. And above all bureaucratic. It wasn&rsquo;t just a futile approach. It was a damaging one. Bucket loads of regulations were being dumped on businesses already struggling to keep their heads above water in the recession &ndash; to the point where equality measures were seen as a punishment &ndash; a punishment a lot of the time associated with women.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">People lost sight of what we were trying to achieve on equality. They saw equality as being some sort of special treatment reserved for certain individuals and group - when in actual fact equality is for everybody.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Particularly now more than ever, equality is tremendously important for our prosperity. We are in the process of rebuilding our economy out of the worst financial crisis we have seen since the Great Depression. And aside from clearing up a massive deficit and all the other mess we have been left one thing I am absolutely certain about is that we will never fully recover - we will never be the strongest we can be until we understand that our economy works at its best only when everybody is participating &ndash; when we are using the talents and skills of all our people.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The past approach also put too much focus on tackling overt discrimination. Legislation was viewed as the sole route to equality - which did nothing to tackle the much wider, more complex causes of inequality.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">If we take women and the boardroom as an example &ndash; of course sexism still plays a part but for the most part I think it is much more subtle than that. It really comes down to the entrenched culture and mindsets that have become institutionalised in some places of work.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Certainly from the women I&rsquo;ve spoken to they have told me that in some organsiations so much of the hiring and internal promotions are still, even in this day and age are undertaken on a bit of a nudge-nudge wink-wink basis and decided before women even get a chance to apply.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It&rsquo;s not that there aren&rsquo;t the women out there. The Cranfield report has shown year in and year out that there is a huge female talent pool. We can be clear that British women don&rsquo;t lack experience, they don't lack ambition and they don't lack skills or qualifications.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">A great deal of research has shown that the problem is caused by a creeping unconscious bias &ndash; where the higher you get in an organisation, the more subjective the promotion processes becomes. And when you allow too much subjectivity &ndash; you see people hiring in their own image &ndash; hiring people who look and talk just like them.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">To tackle these kinds of systemic cultural barriers &ndash; practices that have been going on for years - change really has to come from within. Action has to be driven by business. It requires employers to take a step back and really look at their structures and way of doing things to create a new kind of &lsquo;normal.&rsquo;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">So we want to move away from the arrogant notion from government that it knows best to one where we empower individuals, businesses and communities to enact change. And we want to move away from the box-ticking politics of the past &ndash; where individuals were reduced to categories and &lsquo;groups&rsquo; to one where equality is recognised as being a positive force for everybody, and everybody&rsquo;s responsibility to drive forward.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Now that doesn&rsquo;t relieve the Government of its responsibility to create the conditions, the environment for change.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">We see our role as providing you with the tools for you to then decide how and when you will use them. Different organisations face different challenges in promoting equality so if we are to get this right for everybody a much more flexible approach is needed.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">That is precisely why we have appointed Lord Davies of Abersoch who is working alongside FTSE companies to come up with new ways of improving representation on boards &ndash; including looking at what more we, as a Government can do to help support you. You know the barriers preventing women from reaching board level, better than government ever could &ndash; which is why we look to you to help us come up with business led solutions.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The Home Secretary spoke in great detail about this radical change in Government&rsquo;s approach to equality a few weeks ago. And we have enshrined this approach in our new Cross-Government Equality Strategy being published today. It is our blueprint for change. And within that strategy are two new policy announcements I think will be really effective tools in helping you attract and develop more talented women in your organisations.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Government Action</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">The first is we have announced next year that the Government will commence the positive action provisions in recruitment and promotion contained in the Equality Act.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It will allow you to apply voluntary positive action in selection processes when faced with two or more candidates who are as qualified as each other for the particular job you are recruiting for. Now this is absolutely not about political correctness. It is not about quotas. What it is about is giving employers the choice to make their workforce more diverse, and that includes at a board level. Recruitment will still be based on merit.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And the key word here is &lsquo;choice.&rsquo; No employer will be forced to use positive action.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I can also confirm today that we will be working with business to develop a voluntary approach to pay reporting that works for you. We believe that by helping you to see where the problems are you will be able to take the kind of constructive, measured and targeted approach needed to make real and long-lasting change.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">We will annually review the numbers of companies releasing information, and its quality, under the voluntary approach to assess whether this approach is successful - and take a view over time whether alternatives are required, including a mandatory approach through section 78 of the Equality Act. But we really expect and want the voluntary approach to work. This will give better information and is more likely to drive successful change.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I want to be clear here that we are not asking business to do anything that we in Government are not doing ourselves. We reshaped plans for the public sector Equality Duty so it now focuses on providing information to enable citizens to hold public bodies to account &ndash; to enhance transparency. And across government when we published details of salaries, of contracts awarded and of organisational structures &ndash; that enhanced transparency. We have also set ourselves an aspiration that by the end of the Parliament at least half of all new appointees being made to the boards of public bodies will be women.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Concluding Remarks</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">I am under no illusions that we have a really big mountain to climb. But I believe everything in place for us to achieve real success. We just have to work together to drive it forward. And already so much is taking place to this effect. The Home Secretary and I have had some really productive conversations with the industry on this issue, and will continue to do so. And as for today, I don&rsquo;t just want this to be a talking shop. We want to hear from you about what we can do to be even more effective in helping you overcome barriers to equality within your organisations.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">So thank you for listening and I very much look forward to hearing all the feedback from your conversations today.</p> 2011-03-06 19:21:31 http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ministers/speeches-1/launch_of_2012.aspx Lynne Featherstone MP launch of 2010 Female FTSE100 Report,&nbsp;Barclays Bank, East London Government Equalities Office Thursday 2 December 2010 2010-12-02 00:00:00
<p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Good morning everyone.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Let me start by saying thank you to Chris, members of the forum and colleagues across the British Transport Police for bringing us all together. You have been a formidable force in the fight for equality. Over the years you have won many tough battles.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I think the greatest indication of progress is the amazing cultural change we have witnessed in this country over recent years.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Gareth Thomas is the ninth most capped rugby player in history and one of the most popular sportsmen in the country. He is now openly gay. That really struck me that something really deep is changing - something really spectacular is happening.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Growing up I can honestly say that I never thought I would live to see an openly gay rugby player from Bridgend - never mind one who was applauded locally by the community, by the press, by his team, by his fans, by everyone.&nbsp; It is pretty incredible when you think about it.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">His success and that of many other icons coming out sends out a powerful message. It says to every young person out there struggling to come out, everyone who has suffered snide remarks at work, everyone who feels stigmatised and alienated that your sexuality should never hold you down or hold you back.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It is symbolic of a remarkable journey &ndash; from fear to understanding &ndash; from legal stigma to legal recognition. Most remarkable of all it took less than 20 years. This is perhaps the most significant transformation in the equality landscape. It is certainly the swiftest and most profound social change I have certainly witnessed in my lifetime.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">But we would be kidding ourselves if we thought that our job was done. Britain may be a world leader in LGB&amp;T rights, but what has been won through the law doesn&rsquo;t always resonate on the ground. And sadly the ugly scar of homophobia and transphobia continues to disfigure our society.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And for me nowhere is this more stark than where prejudice leads to hate crime.</p> <p class="MsoCommentText">I attended a Vigil the other week in Trafalgar Square, along with hundreds of other people to stand up against hate crime. And what shocked me to the core was listening to the roll call of names. Names of people who have died as a result of hate crime in the past year be that because of their sexual orientation, gender identity disability, race, religion or other reason. It shocked me because it was so long.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And it&rsquo;s not just the extreme cases we have to worry about. Verbal abuse and harassment remain commonplace on our streets, in our schools and football stadiums, at work and of course as you all know on our transport system.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">For so many trans people a simple ride on the train can result in a rat-run of abuse&nbsp; where they are surrounded, called names, pushed around and shaken up, often by young people travelling to and from school.</p> <p>Understandably, many avoid all of this and go to extreme lengths to plan longer routes to withdraw socially and try wherever possible never to leave their homes alone.</p> <p>If we think about what we use transport for, &nbsp;to go to work, to visit family and friends, to do our shopping, to go to our doctor&rsquo;s appointments, it enables us to do those everyday things we all take for granted. Take that freedom away from somebody and that will impact on every aspect of their life.</p> <p>It not even just about outright abuse and harassment. It&rsquo;s about the threat that something might happen. That feeling that society hasn&rsquo;t accepted who you are, hasn&rsquo;t been able to look past your sexuality or gender identity to realise that you are just an individual, a work colleague, a friend, a family member, a human being with the same hopes, dreams and aspirations as anyone else.&nbsp;</p> <p>So let me be very clear when I say this: As long as people out there continue to feel marginalised and threatened. As long as people fear holding the hand of someone they love walking down the street, then we have not defeated hate crime.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And the message I come here today with is simple: that the Government is committed to doing everything and anything possible to working with you to consign hate to history.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It speaks volumes that the first reception of this Government to be held at 10 Downing Street was one to mark Pride &ndash; attended by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, as well as a good number of the cabinet.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And within weeks of coming to power we published an ambitious cross-government action plan for LGB&amp;T rights covering everything from action to stop those convicted for consensual gay sex being treated as criminals to looking at the next steps for civil partnerships to a commitment to fight for human rights abroad.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And central to that action plan is a renewed determination to tackle hate crime whenever, wherever and in whatever shape it forms.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">For us we believe we have two choices as to how we deal with these heinous crimes. We can carry on as we are. Expecting you to keep on top of these crimes, expecting you to try and deal with what seems to be a never ending conveyor belt.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Or we can take another route &ndash; accepting that this is all our problem. That if LGB&amp;T people are being held back from living their lives to the full, then our whole country, our economy and our society will suffer as a result. We can say and acknowledge that the only true remedy is for us to change as a society as a whole.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Of course that does not mean to say we will not support and help the way agencies deal with these crimes. We all have to make sure that everyone has the confidence to report crimes knowing that they will be taken seriously.</p> <p>According to the Homophobic Hate Crime Survey 2008, seven in ten victims of such crimes do not report these incidents to anyone. That is pretty alarming.</p> <p>These are not just missing numbers off a page. For every case unreported that&rsquo;s a missed opportunity to support a victim - a missed opportunity to bring a perpetrator to justice &ndash; and a missed opportunity to prevent future re-offending.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I&rsquo;ve been so impressed with all the work the British Transport Police is doing to tackle the problem. I know over the summer you hosted an online workshop for young LGB&amp;T people to discuss their hate crime experiences. This is precisely the type of activity we need to increase confidence levels amongst victims.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">We want to see more of this work so that&rsquo;s why we will be working very closely with BTP, the police force and the criminal justice system to continue the way we improve reporting services &ndash; and the quality of support for victims.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">But this alone will not suffice. It is no good just improving the way we respond to these crimes. If we are to prevent it from happening in the first place then we need to make a concerted effort at changing mindsets &ndash; at tackling the very attitudes from where these crimes stem.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">That&rsquo;s why we are making the case for change across the country.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">We are working with the governing bodies of different sports to help them implement a zero tolerance approach to homophobia and transphobia. Twenty years ago it was commonplace for black players to be greeted with monkey noises. That world is fast disappearing. While we can celebrate Gareth Thomas coming out, the fact remains that if you walk into most sports stadiums you will hear the word &lsquo;gay&rsquo; being bandied about as an insult. When Ashley Cole was falsely outed, the websites for fans of rival teams organised systematic homophobic abuse against him, including printing up huge &pound;20 notes depicting &lsquo;Queen&rsquo; Ashley.&nbsp; In the same way racism has been given the red card, we now need to make sure homophobia is given the red card.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">We are also working with employers to help them stamp out bigotry in the workplace. And we&rsquo;ve commissioned research to help us identify the barriers employers face in developing LGB&amp;T friendly workplaces.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And we&rsquo;re working with schools to ensure we tackle homophobia and transphobia before it gets the chance to take root.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Many schools are doing fantastic work. But I have also heard quite shocking stories of schools turning a blind eye to what is going on.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">One teacher - a gay English teacher was asked some very personal questions by some students during a class. They wanted to know why he didn't have a girlfriend or wife. He went to his boss, the headmaster, to ask for his advice and support. In response he was told to buy a cheap wedding ring and frame a picture of his sister so he could put it on his desk and pretend she was his wife.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Here in 2010 that is outrageous. Is it any wonder that Ofsted says homophobia is &lsquo;endemic&rsquo; in our playgrounds and classrooms? The young people who commit so many of LGB&amp;T hate crimes are simply taking that culture out of the playground and onto the streets. That&rsquo;s not a happy society we are creating.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">All schools, including faith schools should have an anti-homophobic and transphobic bullying policy in place.&nbsp; All schools need to make clear that being gay or trans is normal, not some unmentionable awkward topic. And all schools need to make sure at every opportunity they demonstrate to students that prejudice of any kind is unacceptable.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">But where I think the new Government really differs from the last is that we are going to stop the &lsquo;T&rsquo; being an afterthought in LGB&amp;T. We are determined to break down the ignorance which is taking away any possibility of trans people living normal, dignified lives. How many times I have heard that idea that people choose to &lsquo;switch genders.&rsquo;&nbsp; You have no more choice over your gender than you do which natural eye colour you have.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">We recognise that transgender issues are often distinct and sometimes need to be addressed separately. That is why we are proud that we will be the first government to ever produce an Action Plan on transgender equality. And the first Government to ever commission a research project to help us better understand the nature and size of the transgender population and the challenges they face.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">So this is the thrust of the Government&rsquo;s strategy for tackling hate.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Ultimately it is not about protecting the vulnerable. It is about the capacity of our society to create the conditions where every individual is deserving of the same respect - and the right to live a life free from fear and prejudice. We cannot have two tiers in our society &ndash; gay people don&rsquo;t get gay buses &ndash; although that may be fun - they don&rsquo;t go to gay schools or gay hospitals. We need to move past tolerating LGB&amp;T people to treating and seeing&nbsp;everyone as human beings of equal standing and equal worth. That is the kind of society this Government wants to engender for the future.</p> <p>Everything is in place to make that happen. And I believe by working together on this, with your input, challenge and support we will move closer to that day.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Thank you.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> 2011-03-06 19:21:35 http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ministers/speeches-1/british_transport_police.aspx Lynne Featherstone MP British Transport PoliceLGB&amp;T Support Network Annual Conference Government Equalities Office 12th November 2010 2010-11-12 00:00:00
<p>&nbsp;</p> <p></p> <p>Good evening everyone.</p> <p>I have to say thank you so much for inviting me here to speak. It&rsquo;s an absolute pleasure to be here and before I go into my whole speech, I do have a connection with Arup, my sister&rsquo;s first job was at Arup it was decades and decades ago and her best friend Janet worked for Lord&hellip;&hellip;himself. They&rsquo;re still friends today. I myself worked for&hellip;&hellip;.I know the world you come from, I understand what you&rsquo;re talking about.</p> <p>This evening you have been focusing on the important subject of women, urban design and transport planning, the areas you particularly look into. I hope to add to this debate by talking on the much wider subject of how we can get more women into Science, Technology and Engineering sectors which are brilliant professions but of which women&rsquo;s representation is quite small. I have to say it is a special pleasure to be here to meet so many talented women who are breaking the mould of what is probably one of the most stubborn male bastions ever.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s impossible to quantify the contribution women have made and continue to make to Science, Technology and Engineering - I was listening to that speech and thought it was fantastic; you are exemplifying how thinking should be done about designing spaces. So many of the great strides in human understanding have been made by women, the discovery of the first radio pulsars, the development of spray on skin for burns victims, pioneering cancer beating therapies, the creation of cutting edge computer chips. I would list them all but you&rsquo;ve been standing here for quite a while already.</p> <p>What I will say is this, each of you who work in the field are sustaining the affirmation that women, not only do Science, Engineering and Technology but actually excel in it, punching your way beyond your waiting numbers and that is a credit to all of you, to your individual drives and your fortitude because I know plenty of you have had to jump over barriers and obstacles that your male counterparts quite simply don&rsquo;t have in place.</p> <p>The problem is women&rsquo;s progress in these areas has been a lot slower and less uniform in this sector than in other sectors. Over recent years we have been seeing positive signs, like last year three women were Nobel Prize winners in the sciences, a record. We&rsquo;re seeing more women choose Science, Engineering and Technology degrees at universities. The fact remains that here in 2010 Physical Science, particularly Engineering, has the smallest proportion of women: fewer than 1 in 7 engineering students are female and out of those women many choose to opt out of pursuing careers in engineering. Only 3.5% of registered engineers are female.</p> <p>Perhaps one of the greatest indications of the challenges ahead of us is the perceptions that younger people have of this world. A few years ago, an experiment was conducted amongst school children in the United States. Over 2000 girls and boys were asked to draw a picture of a scientist. Only 15% of those girls and less than 0.1% of the boys depicted a scientist as female. Interestingly, following a visit to a lab, none of the boys depicted the scientist as a female. For the girls there was a 58% increase in female scientist representation. That really does show that all of you in this room are role models, it makes a huge difference. I want to see more role models, my goal is no less than to get us to a place where the next Doctor Who is a woman, her assistant a man and nobody bats an eyelid. I think if they did have the next Doctor Who as a woman that would probably do more in one stroke as role models than anything else we can think of.</p> <p>So the big questions I want to address today are how can we ensure that in 10 or 20 years time this happens. That there will be more role models, more women here standing where you are. How can we inspire the next generation?</p> <p>For the coalition, we believe determining the answer to this question has actually never been more important because our economic future is at state. In such difficult financial times there are those who say we can&rsquo;t afford to invest in Science, Technology and Engineering. The support for Research and Innovation is somehow a luxury at the moment defined by necessities and we fundamentally disagree with that. These areas are more essential for our prosperity than have ever been before.</p> <p>For years our economy has been built on a set of assumptions about the behaviour of markets and the infallible Financial Services. The near collapse of the world&rsquo;s banking system has rendered those assumptions as somewhat obsolete. So if we are to prosper again we have to re-invent our economy on new principles, we have to think differently, the world is changing; we have to do it differently.</p> <p>That means re-balancing our economy so that Manufacturing and Research, the areas of growth that were criminally neglected for so long are valued as much as Finance and Consumer Services.</p> <p>Michael Gove is the Secretary State of Education, he said that often when politicians are urging a cause of action on which we consider self evident and we wonder why people won&rsquo;t accept our logic, we say it&rsquo;s not rocket science. But looking at the global economy it seems increasingly clear that the answer to our problem is more often than not that it is rocket science, Mathematics, Engineering, Physics, and the other hard sciences, that is where the growth is to come from.</p> <p>The Coalition&rsquo;s recognition of this could not have been made clearer by the Spending Review because these are really tough times, as you know we keep saying tough decisions and hard choices have to be made. We face cutting &pound;409 billion to deal with the budget deficit, the largest structure deficit in Europe. But we are protecting the science budget of &pound;4.6 billion a year, I&rsquo;m sure it won&rsquo;t have gone unnoticed in this room that the Cross Rail is going ahead. I think that investment and capital expenditure which really will augment growth there is no doubt in my mind that if you bring transport somewhere the rest happens. I think it was perspicacious and wise of the coalition government. It&rsquo;s absolutely the right approach if you&rsquo;re going to get growth; you have to have investment and infrastructure.</p> <p>The European Commission has predicted if we don&rsquo;t act to produce more skilled scientist and engineers, Europe will suffer a shortfall of 20 million skilled workers in Science, Technology and Engineering by 2030. But it doesn&rsquo;t have to be this way. We have untapped resource if those industries didn&rsquo;t keep putting women off. Women make half of this country&rsquo;s workforce, they&rsquo;re graduating with more degrees and better degrees than men. So tackling the under representation of women in science is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do, it&rsquo;s what we actually need to do to safeguard this country&rsquo;s economic prosperity.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s also what businesses and organisations need to do to improve their governance, their productivity and their services. Men and women are different; they have different perspectives and if we fail to reflect those perspectives, the quality of decision making actually suffer. Those of you who work in urban design or transport planning will know better than anyone the truth of this because nowhere is this clearer than where the macho boy&rsquo;s culture so often summons up massive projects and neglects the important details. In fact I am echoing what you were saying with your research.</p> <p>I was Chair of Transport at the London Assembly for 5 years before I came to Parliament. There was undoubtedly an obsession with boys toys; it was a macho game of who had the biggest airport or who had the longest train. That was about big budgets so I always say to women go where you can get your hands on the budget, where you can get your hands on the levers of power, where you can make those decisions.</p> <p>Multi billion pound budgets for massive transport infrastructure projects, yet not even a fraction of those budgets were spent on what was called &lsquo;soft measures&rsquo; such as making sure you could fit a buggy on the bus or the height of a hanging strap on the tube. Making sure local shopping services are easily accessible through using public transport.</p> <p>The point is if you&rsquo;re not there at the decision making table, sometimes these get omitted and forgotten, that&rsquo;s why we live in the sort of world we&rsquo;re living in which is male spaces, male transport and so forth.</p> <p>In short, if Science and Technology hold the answers to our economic recovery, women hold the key to unlocking that potential. We need a paradigm shift in the way we re-build our economy and we need to put women at the heart of it. But to do this we need a complete change of approach because it is clear the old approach did not work. I am not going to stand here and criticise everything the last government did. Where they went wrong I think is with the technique they used, it was very top down, centralised and above all bureaucratic; focusing on discrimination in contrast to the actual issues which are much broader around inequality.</p> <p>Discrimination of course is a factor; it puts women of choosing careers in these areas. In many cases it causes them to drop out of the industry and there is undoubtedly and sadly this inherent sexist culture in many organisations where it is assumed that only men have the skills to advance to the most senior positions and top positions. So, I was delighted to be introduced by the Director.</p> <p>This is something the Coalition is extremely serious about tackling and I am pleased that at the beginning of this month marks a significant step forward, clamping down on discrimination with the implementation of the Equality Act. For the first time things like pay secrecy clauses are enforceable so women will be able to find out if they male counterparts are being paid more than them. Transparency is really important as we know from what was shown in the MP expenses.</p> <p>The truth is the lack of women in these areas won&rsquo;t be sold by Parliament, by waving its wands. Problems go way deeper than outright discrimination, there are other clauses. Inflexible work practices, women still have children; we need to accommodate working mothers. I was talking to a woman here before who was saying it was quite difficult in your industry to job share, but I did point out the introduction of the congestion charge which has to be one of the most huge civil projects that has come in since the war, was actually the result of a job share at the very top, a man and a woman job share. I don&rsquo;t actually accept that, it&rsquo;s difficult but it&rsquo;s not impossible and actually if you don&rsquo;t make those leaps to do things differently, things will not change, you will always be putting off women if you can&rsquo;t do a job share. They did both, doing 3 days so they had a Wednesday crossover. I think the congestions charge is one of the most successful projects brought into London with very little in terms of problems, given the size and issues around the project.</p> <p>We need a concerted effort to changing mindsets, we need to take power away from the centre, put industry back in the driving seat and the kind of systemic change we need will not be achieved without you as leaders and employers.</p> <p>It doesn&rsquo;t release Government of its responsibilities, it&rsquo;s up to us to create the conditions and environments which enable you to succeed and we are making real progress to those affects. We&rsquo;re committed to extending the right to flexible working to all employees, our aim is to make flexible working practices absolutely normal and not just for Women&rsquo;s issues because everyone has caring responsibilities, last time I looked men had children too. That shift is needed so that we start to judge employees by the results they get not by the face time they log in to. We&rsquo;re going to promote a system of flexible parental leave that will help both parents strike an appropriate balance between their child care responsibilities and their careers. There is no reason why in the modern world we should simply assume the mother will carry out every bit of child care; neither should we assume the man will be the breadwinner. These policies will help remove the stigma. We&rsquo;ve asked Lord Davies who is the former Chairman of Standard Chartered PRC to look into ways of improving female representation on the boards of listed companies. At the moment just less than 11% of board directors of FTSE 100 companies are women. We need women at all levels - as I said, you&rsquo;ve got to be where decisions are being made. It&rsquo;s not just in the workplace, the problems come from stereotyping, assumptions about what women can and can&rsquo;t do and their role at home.</p> <p>All deep rooted in our society, it&rsquo;s a culture problem we need a cultural shift. So we&rsquo;re taking action to tackle the negative message that we as a society send out to girls, at school it&rsquo;s quite extraordinary how much is drilled in.</p> <p>The lifestyle of pre-teens, particularly girls, has been the focus of relatively recent campaigns of commercialisation and sexualisation of girls. Pick up any magazine and you&rsquo;ll see page after page of these unrealistic body images where we say to young girls you can only look one way to be acceptable in this world. So we&rsquo;re basically saying that a woman&rsquo;s place is to strive for physical perfection and that Science, Maths, Technology and Engineering were therefore boring and nerdy.</p> <p>The answer is to seek a balance, to value form of status other than appearance. Albert Einstein said &lsquo;Live not to be a success but rather to be a value,&rsquo; meaning that our value should not be seen in what we can take, but what we&rsquo;re able to give back to society.</p> <p>If we are to get people from a very young age, we need to be enforcing a more positive message, we have no desire to impose regulations or restrictions on advertisers in terms of image. We&rsquo;re looking to work with the industries involved on the voluntary basis and on a much wider level; the coalition is committed to driving reform which will make our education system a world beater once again. One of the tragedies of the last 10 years has been our failure to keep pace with the world&rsquo;s best education systems, developing countries like China and India are way ahead of us, they&rsquo;re branching out into the most cutting areas of Engineering and Technology. They&rsquo;re competing on the basis of the rapidly expanding number of trained mathematicians and scientist in their economy.</p> <p>Here in the UK on the international league tables, we&rsquo;ve gone from 4th to 14th in science, from eighth to 24th for mathematics. In Massachusetts in the USA, 16 year olds are asked in their science exams to identify the shape of a carbon tetrabromide molecule as predicted by the valance-shell repulsion theory. In England, 16 year olds are asked on their science exam whether we sweat through out lungs or skins. Our children will never strike the global competition unless we know our schools can compete with the best in the world. Which is why we have insisted Maths exams and the Science curriculum in the future will be every bit as challenging and exciting as those in Massachusetts, China or India.</p> <p>I hope I have given you some cause for optimism about the future of Science, Engineering, Technology and women. Everything is in place for more women to succeed, now the different pieces have got to come together and I believe that by working together in this with your input, challenge and support, this century will see a lot more women become leaders in their fields.</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>&nbsp;</h2> 2011-03-05 22:28:56 http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ministers/speeches-1/arup-_science,_women_and_our_e.aspx Lynne Featherstone MP Arup- Science, Women and our Economic Future Government Equalities Office 28th October 2010 2010-10-28 00:00:00
<p>&nbsp;</p> <p></p> <p>Good morning everyone. Thank you so much for inviting me here. Thank you to Gillian Nissim for all the extraordinary work she is doing to support working Mums. And a big, big congratulations to all the nominees of Top Employer Awards 2010.</p> <p>We are clear that the Government cannot cut it alone. We will never achieve the kind of seismic, long lasting cultural change for working mums without real business centred action. And that support will only come when employers like you are given the platform to share their ideas and their successes with the wider world. That is why these awards are so important, and why I am really delighted to be here supporting them.</p> <p>What I hope to get across today is just how important it is for you to continue and expand what you are doing and to talk to you about the action the Coalition Government will be taking to support you in your efforts.</p> <p>I have experienced the challenges of leading a busy life at work and at home - trying to do a good job, trying not to pit one against the other, trying to balance everything without tearing my hair out. I&rsquo;ve only succeeded to a certain extent.</p> <p>I still feel perpetually guilty about my children - even though they are all grown up. When I was bringing them up as a single mum I remember being out canvassing and feeling guilty about not being at home. And when I was with them, I felt guilty I wasn&rsquo;t at work.</p> <p>But the one thing is that work and life challenges I&rsquo;ve experienced are exactly the same challenges facing the majority of families and undoubtedly many of you here today.</p> <p>Michelle Obama even came up with a phrase to describe people like us &ndash; the 120 percenter &ndash; where if you do feel you are doing any job at 120 percent, you think you are failing. If you&rsquo;re trying to do that at home and trying to do that at work, it can be very difficult, stressful and frustrating.</p> <p>But, as all of you here today demonstrate it doesn&rsquo;t have to be that way. It doesn&rsquo;t have to be that hard.</p> <p>And that is something I learned for myself when I ran my own design company before becoming an MP.</p> <p>I discovered that flexible working isn&rsquo;t just about family balance. It&rsquo;s not always about children; it can be about caring responsibility, it can just be about anything. But actually about understanding that there are times when 9-5 can&rsquo;t necessarily be enough.</p> <p>It is about making workplaces stronger and more effective &ndash; keeping and attracting the most qualified staff. My staff stayed with me for years and I think that is the reward you get. We had a good time together because we liked and respected each other.</p> <p>I found the more flexibility I gave to my staff to be good parents the more they were able to put back working for me.</p> <p>Telling a firm they should think about flexible working is like telling a marathon runner they should think about getting fit.</p> <p>The figures speak for themselves. BT introduced flexible working just over 20 years ago as part of their business strategy. They have reported absenteeism down 20%, property costs down &pound;500m, and productivity up to 30%</p> <p>BT, IBM and Sainsbury&rsquo;s &ndash; all leaders in flexible working, are in the business of doing business, not charities. They&rsquo;ve adopted flexible working policies because, when all is said and done, it helps their bottom line.</p> <p>As a result we are seeing more and more employers choosing to offer flexible working actively, rather than wait to be asked.</p> <p>But while all this speaks volumes of the progress we are making, we still have many mountains to climb when it comes to flexible working, I don&rsquo;t think we as a society have quite grasped its concept. Many workplaces are still largely designed around the sole breadwinner men, with stay-at-home wives.</p> <p>Since becoming an MP I&rsquo;ve had the chance to sit down with many working women from across the country. And I keep getting the same message of frustration. They work hard doing the same jobs as men everyday, they are just as qualified, just as committed but yet they are penalised just because they are Mums. They want to work. They just can&rsquo;t work long and unsociable hours they once did because for the most part the expectation to manage the household and look after the kids is still very much with them. But the part-time and flexible jobs they are looking for just aren&rsquo;t there.</p> <p>Dropping out the workforce or choosing lower-paid, lower-skilled part-time work in order to balance work and family life.</p> <p>And because our labour market is in the throes of serious demographic change, these are pressures only likely to increase.</p> <p>Growing numbers of women are needing or wanting to continue working after having children and they are demanding work that recognises their experience and abilities. Just 15 years ago, 59 per cent of women of working age with dependent children were in paid employment. Today that has risen to 68 per cent.</p> <p>On top of this people are living longer, producing added caring responsibilities for the care of elderly relatives. By 2010 it is estimated that nearly 10 million people in the UK will have caring responsibilities for an elderly relative.</p> <p>If we keep on making it difficult for 50% of the workforce to give of their best, it will sap our ability to compete in a global market.</p> <p>I think one of the major differences is that up until now government policy has reinforced a workplace designed around the male breadwinner.</p> <p>When it comes to parental leave mothers get a year, whereas fathers are ushered back to work after two weeks. That is one of the largest gaps in Europe. Leaving economics aside, I can&rsquo;t imagine how frustrating it is for all the fathers out there who wish they could spend more time being a Dad.</p> <p>We need a &lsquo;new normal&rsquo; accepting that it&rsquo;s not just mothers who want to spend time with their children but fathers too.</p> <p>And that&rsquo;s why the Coalition has made it our ambition to make Britain the most family-friendly place to do business.</p> <p>Under these plans, we have committed to extending the right to request flexible working to all employees. Currently, parents of children aged 16 and under, parents of disabled children and some carers are allowed to ask their employers for more flexible working. We hope by normalising it in this way we can lift some of the stigma that discourages men from asking for flexible working, leaving caring to be shared more evenly.</p> <p>We are also looking into a system which will encourage shared parenting &ndash; for example by introducing flexible parental leave which will allow mothers and fathers to divide their time off how they see fit. So if fathers want to take more of a role they can, if mothers want to return to work sooner than later they can.</p> <p>Of course, Government will practice what we preach, serving as a model for the policies that we&rsquo;re encouraging.</p> <p>Our plans to make access to high quality and affordable childcare available to all parents will also make it easier for your employees to balance their home and work life.</p> <p>The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have created a new Ministerial Childhood and Families Taskforce which is considering exactly how we will take these commitments forward. More details will follow shortly.</p> <p>But what I can tell you is that we won&rsquo;t be doing anything without consulting with employers first. We do not want to push you down a road you don&rsquo;t want go down. The time of centralisation, top down targets and bureaucratic procedures is now over. We recognise that the only way we are going to make this work is if you are in the driver&rsquo;s seat. We will be turning to you for your advice and ideas about how we can replicate what you are all doing on a much wider level. Our role is first and foremost to support you in the steps you are already taking by helping you provide your employees with even more choice about the way they work, but in a way that meets the needs of your business.</p> <p>My final message to you is please go out there and spread the word. Tell those less convinced of the arguments the benefits flexible working is bringing to your organisations. They will listen to you a lot harder, than they will listen to me or anyone else in Government.</p> <p>Thank you again for all you are doing. And I look forward to working with all of you in the future.</p> 2011-03-05 22:28:59 http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ministers/speeches-1/working_mums_awards_2010.aspx Lynne Featherstone MP Working Mums Awards 2010 Government Equalities Office 4th October 2010 2010-10-04 00:00:00
<p>&nbsp;</p> <p></p> <p>I would first like to say a big thank you to the TUC for inviting me to speak today and also a big thank you for the work you do - all of you in this room do everyday in pursuit of LGB and T equality.</p> <p>Tomorrow I will be joining thousands and thousands of people in Trafalgar Square to celebrate pride to mark forty-one years since the Stonewall protests in New York City. A group of individuals with few supporters, and even fewer rights stood up to homophobia and tansphobia and helped inspire a movement.</p> <p>What you and others have achieved since those riots is quite amazing. Goals that would have seemed impossible to those campaigners that night have been won; landmark changes in the law; openly gay politicians; civil partnerships in this country and across Europe; more and more people are able to live their lives openly than ever before.</p> <p>It is history with lessons for all of us. As the new Minister for Women and Equality it certainly holds a lot of meaning for me. It is the biggest antidote to all those cynics I know that are out there. It shows us that even under the most difficult of circumstances, we can change things when determined and brave people are prepared to stand up and fight. You should be extremely proud of everything you have done and achieved.</p> <p>But of course we need to go further when it comes to fairness for the LGB and T community we can&rsquo;t yet hang up our capes and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.</p> <p>There are still anomalies in the law that need to be fixed, and there are still plenty of minds that need to be open.</p> <p>The Coalition Government is 100% committed and I believe we can do it. We are heading in the right direction. What I hope to get across to you today is that this Government is committed to completing the journey to full LGB and T equality.</p> <p>We have the Prime Minister&rsquo;s personal commitment that we will do better. Just a few weeks ago he hosted at No.10 in celebration of gay pride a reception. He set up to show the whole community as well as the working community that he and our Government are absolutely committed. In his speech he paid tribute to all the fantastic work the previous administration had done and have achieved on LGB and T equality and pledged that this Government will carry on that work.</p> <p>And in Theresa and myself you actually have a very feisty team here to fight your corner. It&rsquo;s not just that we believe equality of opportunity should be the right of every individual &ndash; that goes without saying. We realise that our ambitions for a stronger, more prosperous and competitive Britain coming out of the recession, will be completely futile without it.</p> <p>That is why we have just published an ambitious programme of work for the coalition Government on LGB and T issues. I hope you can get a copy of this if not it is actually on our website.</p> <p>It is actually the first of its kind to be produced by the UK Government and will take action on some of the most pressing areas which you have rightly been demanding for so long.</p> <p>I would like to take you through its main elements.</p> <p>We think it is absolutely outrageous that in this day and age a man can still be branded a criminal because 30 years ago he had consensual sex with another man. So we are going to change that law so that historical convictions for gay sex with over 16s will be treated as spent and will not be disclosed on a criminal record check when applying for a job.</p> <p>We are also taking action to ensure we respond better to LGB and T hate crime. It is much more common than most people think with 1 in 8 lesbian, gay and bisexual people and 89% of transgender people are subject to such attacks. Those are alarming statistics. What is worse is that people are simply not getting the justice they are entitled to because so many of these crimes are still unreported because people don&rsquo;t necessary feel confident about going forward. And unfortunately too few people working within the criminal justice system know how to handle such cases. So we&rsquo;re going to promote better recording of hate crimes. And we will also improve access to reporting services, and the quality of support for victims to make them more confident in coming forward.</p> <p>But hate crimes, however alarming they are don&rsquo;t even begin to capture the everyday intolerance still experienced by LGB and T people. It may not be as blatant as hate crime, but the consequences can be just as damaging.</p> <p>And nowhere is that more apparent than in school. Too many young people continue to suffer at the hands of bullies because teachers don&rsquo;t know how to tackle it and they don&rsquo;t have the support they need to tackle it.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s not just the immediate hurt caused by actual bullying that is unacceptable. It&rsquo;s the long term message that we sent to our children that they form their views of life that somehow it&rsquo;s ok, and it certainly isn&rsquo;t. And this is how people can behave in the world and it certainly shouldn&rsquo;t.</p> <p>If we can tackle those attitudes that lead to discrimination and hate from the point of which they stem, if we can teach young people to stand up for what is right, we can ensure they will take these values into their adult life. So we will be working with teachers to help them fulfil their obligations under the new Public Sector Equality Duty included in the Equality Act 2010. It will see more schools, including faith schools, proactively devising strategies to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying</p> <p>We also think civil partnerships deserve stronger recognition and support. It is not right or fair that there are gay couples out there who want to hold their ceremonies in religious buildings with their faith communities but they currently can&rsquo;t. We believe that if churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and so forth want to host registration of same-sex relationships then it should happen-we should make it happen.</p> <p>However the truth is, even the boldest legislation and assaults on discrimination doesn&rsquo;t reach into all the hearts and take away the prejudice and hatred which rest beneath well-behaved exteriors. And what use are rights on a statute book if some of the people responsible for implementing them are not on our side?</p> <p>The civilising voices are winning. But every now and again there are those incidents which remind us how far we still have to go. I don&rsquo;t think I will ever forget the time when a journalist for a leading newspaper wrote what I can only describe as a disgusting article blaming the Boyzone singer Stephen Gately&rsquo;s death on his &lsquo;lifestyle&rsquo; and &lsquo;sexuality.&rsquo; The public reaction was amazing and represented by far the highest number of complaints ever received about a single article in the history of the Press Complaints Commission. But the fact remains that someone with that much responsibility and influence actually thought it was ok to write something like this - and that is deeply troubling.</p> <p>It shows us that changing attitudes and culture is never going to be an easy task. But it has to be our ultimate goal if we are to ever achieve full LGB and T equality.</p> <p>The Government will do its bit.</p> <p>We want to make sure the support is there for employers to help them tackle homophobia and transphobia at work. It is important to look at why this is happening to get the root cause of it. So we have commissioned research to look at the different barriers employers face in developing LGB and T friendly workplaces. In light of the findings, which we expect in the summer, we will be planning a course of action.</p> <p>We will be working with governing bodies of different sports to tackle homophobic and transphobic abuse.</p> <p>We will use our powerful relationships with other countries and arenas of international influence to speak out when countries commit human rights abuses and push for unequivocal support for gay rights and UK civil partnerships to be recognised everywhere in the world.</p> <p>We will work to ensure that more LGB and T people take their rightful place in our democratic institutions, serving in our Parliament and in our Cabinet - to create the kind of political environment where in the foreseeable future the Prime Minister could just as easily be gay as straight.</p> <p>But this is a job that the Government cannot do alone. From employers, to sports figures, to newspaper editors, to teachers &ndash; the list goes on &ndash; everyone has a responsibility.</p> <p>But for those people to realise their responsibility we need to be pumping out the arguments, the right messages about why the goal of achieving LGB and T equality is so important.</p> <p>To do this we need your help. Already as the Stonewall Equality Index shows us, employers like the police, banks; law firms now regularly top the list of gay friendly employers. And no doubt a lot of that has been down to the work you have done. We need you to contribute and continue to educate and support employers.</p> <p>And we want you to help us make the decisions. You&rsquo;re the experts and we need your thinking caps to help us come up with new bold and creative ideas. You have been doing this a lot longer than either Theresa or I have.</p> <p>That is why for example; once we have completed our research on discrimination in the workplace we will be turning to you to help us come up with bold ideas on how we can tackle this problem.</p> <p>We will be working with campaigners to help us develop a new programme of action to improve the lives of transgender people, which we want to publish next year.</p> <p>I really believe that together, with continued determination, tenacity and courage we will get there. We have seen how much we can achieve when like-minded individuals come together and demand and push for it. I look forward to working with you and answering your questions.</p> 2011-03-05 22:29:02 http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ministers/speeches-1/trade_union_congress_lgb_and_t.aspx Lynne Featherstone MP Trade Union Congress LGB and T Conference Government Equalities Office Friday 2nd July 2010 2010-07-02 00:00:00
<p>&nbsp;</p> <p></p> <p>The years that we gave back in terms of all of these issues are phenomenal. I am absolutely delighted to be here today to say a warm welcome to the members of the Black and Minority Ethnic Women Councillor&rsquo;s Taskforce who took it on right across the country, to SOLACE, to Operation Black Vote and to all of you who have successfully completed the Taskforce mentoring scheme, the SOLACE Community Leadership Scheme and their mentors.</p> <p>Mentors are invaluable. I was one. I&rsquo;ve been a mentor and I&rsquo;ve been mentored and it really does make a difference.</p> <p>I went to visit Mooredown St Johns Primary School last year in Bournemouth just prior to the Lib Dem Conference. The children had been asked to draw pictures of what they thought a politician looked like. Yes, you guess what&rsquo;s coming. Needless to say the pictures were almost all male and pale, just like the House of Commons.</p> <p>They had captured Parliament perfectly with the skills of a sketch writer. Sketch writers watch out!</p> <p>One comment on one drawing said: &lsquo;I have drawn a man because I think that men stand up and talk better than a woman.&rsquo;</p> <p>Having been in the House Commons for 5 years, I have to say this is entirely wrong.</p> <p>Another had written: &lsquo;I have chosen to draw a male MP because I have never seen a woman MP.&rsquo;</p> <p>It reminded me of the real power of a role model; the power to change our preconceptions and to bring hope alive.</p> <p>And yes that is why you&rsquo;re absolutely right that Diane has done a great service to all of us to go out there and fight. That is a big part of what today is about because the efforts of my department, the Government Equalities Office, Operation Black Vote and the BAME Women Councillors Taskforce aren&rsquo;t just about changing the faces of our democratic institution.</p> <p>We are creating role models for the right to equality, for other under represented communities. Inspiring them as to what is actually possible if you get going and do stuff, bringing voices to decision making that have been absent for far too long.</p> <p>I want to pay special tribute to the members of the Taskforce and other local councillors.</p> <p>Each of them has put aside their political differences to come together to encourage and inspire women from a BAME background to get involved in public life. I&rsquo;m going to be telling our coalition government to look to the Taskforce as role models itself.</p> <p>All of them travelled up and down the country speaking at awareness raising events, reaching over 1000 women. An amazing 70% of these women said that after the events they were more likely to consider becoming a councillor. That completely dispels the myth that BAME women are not interested in politics. It&rsquo;s rubbish.</p> <p>They garnered support from other councillors and politicians right across the political spectrum. They encouraged them to look within at what more they could do to remove those barriers which face BAME women who want to be councillors. By last October when the Taskforce published its final report, all major political parties committed to doing the work. This is exceptionally important; ultimately nearly all councillors were elected on a party ticket. That makes the support of all the political parties absolutely vital.</p> <p>If it were not for the initiative of the Taskforce members, there wouldn&rsquo;t be a mentoring scheme and actually I am proof that mentoring works.</p> <p>If somebody tells you that they believe in you, that you can do something, you begin to believe. Now, I didn&rsquo;t come from a background where politics was even thought of or even talked about. We had no books on the shelves in my family. But then I shadowed a Lib Dem MP, and then I became councillor because I think being a councillor is a fantastic first step; and now I am an Equalities Minister - so hey I&rsquo;m not black, but I am female. It works.</p> <p>The consistent theme from all their work was that mentoring and having the opportunity to shadow councillors would be crucial in encouraging more BAME women to get involved in local politics. So, it was because of the Taskforce recommendation that this scheme was set up.</p> <p>Through their efforts they attracted 400 enquiries, 125 interviews, two programmes encouraging over 100 potential candidates.</p> <p>Already we have seen four fantastic participants of the scheme being elected as local councillors from all three main political parties. I am confident that we will see more success stories coming out of future elections. Now people can see what&rsquo;s actually being achieved. I&rsquo;m also glad it was possible for a number of women to take up places in the SOLACE Community Leadership Scheme because you learn new skills and it brings you forward and makes you ready.</p> <p>And a big thank you to the Taskforce for the energy and tireless commitment they have put into this project.</p> <p>I also want to especially congratulate Meral Hussain Ece OBE who was just made a Baroness, another great achievement to add to your long list of achievements.</p> <p>We also owe a massive thanks and congratulations to the women here today who did not just want change; but who have put themselves forward to affect change. You, the graduates of the Councillors mentoring Scheme and the Solace Community Leadership Course, give yourself a round of applause.</p> <p>Anyone who is in doubt about the merits of schemes like this, because there are some very silly voices out there who write off schemes like this as being tokenistic. They are not. They only have to look at the breadth of talent and diversity of experience that these women have to know how wrong they are. But we must do better, we need more of you, we need many more of you to get involved in British politics. Not just at the local level, but every single level.</p> <p>If you look at the up to date figures from 2008, although BAME women make up more than 5% of the population less than 1% are councillors. We&rsquo;ve got to increase that representation.</p> <p>In the House of Commons things have gone a little bit better; we&rsquo;ve gone from having 0.3% to 1.2%. It has been a long journey, one step at a time followed by lots of other steps very quickly. But there is no room for complacency; the Commons as I said is pretty male and pale.</p> <p>In the 21st century it&rsquo;s been pretty difficult to believe that it wasn&rsquo;t until last year that a black woman actually spoke at the Commons despatch box.</p> <p>And I believe our society also needs to change its attitudes to females.</p> <p>When Theresa was first appointed as Home Secretary it took precisely one hour before the press wrote lengthy articles about her fashion. She was wearing a &ldquo;sensible pair of black flatties, adorned with a silver corsage,&rdquo; they noted. Also &ldquo;a blue collarless jacket and black knee-length skirt.&rdquo; Later she changed her shoes and &ldquo;slipped into a slightly racier leopard skinned.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s funny but come on! This woman has been involved with politics at all levels for years. She has also been a successfully career woman before she went into politics and held several high profile shadow positions before she became Home Secretary and Equalities Minister.</p> <p>For women looking form the outside in, politics can appear inaccessible like Fort Knox. It is unacceptable and it has to change and the media has to change with it.</p> <p>And it must change not because we want to tick boxes or make our statistics look better. This is because it is about the interest of the whole country to have these talents in elected positions making the decisions that count.</p> <p>Our diversity is what makes this country so great. Women from a black and ethnic minority background contribute to every sphere of British life. I look around this room and I see so many strong, dynamic women. We need your talent, your life experiences and your perspectives to be running councils, to be in parliament and to be running the country. How else can we debate and formulate policies fit for all in an interdependent world?</p> <p>Never has this been more clear to me than when I was Chair of Transport at the London Assembly. I observed there, that the men, sorry this is a bit sexist, had an obsession, a macho game they played of who&rsquo;s got the biggest airport or who&rsquo;s got the longest train. What I&rsquo;m really talking about is getting female hands on delivers, on budgets and on power. We need great infrastructure, we also need how to get to school, how to do local shopping, how things are designed, how to get the double buggy on the bus. All of those things meant just as much. And if you only had one set making those important decisions, sadly you only get one answer.</p> <p>Politics has gone through a bit of a crisis recently. The expenses scandal has meant that many citizens felt distant from Parliament and the wider democratic process. And when they looked at councillors and MPs debating, making decisions that affect their lives they saw very few that actually looked like them.</p> <p>So, if our democratic institutions are going to be able to command greater public confidence, more legitimacy, then they have to be more representative.</p> <p>Going forward, Theresa and I are clear we need to do better. This is a crucial issue which we will be addressing, considering how to best to take forward the recommendations from the Speaker&rsquo;s Conference and representation.</p> <p>We know we need to do better not just in politics, but also to make sure we remove the barriers to opportunity holding back individuals from a black and ethnic minority background in every decision and every walk of life.</p> <p>To pave the way we have outlined some of our proposals for change in the new programme for Government.</p> <p>So just a couple of examples:</p> <p>We will be promoting opportunities for BAME communities by providing internships for underrepresented minorities in every Whitehall department.</p> <p>We&rsquo;ll be funding a targeted national enterprise mentoring scheme for BAME people who want to start their own business.</p> <p>And I am confident that we will see progress. Not only because Theresa and I will be pushing for it. But also we have seen from the Councillors Taskforce and all of you, the work you have been doing.</p> <p>This is not a Taskforce for the political arena alone. We are going to need you if we are to really transform things. You&rsquo;re all in it now and we have to wriggle out and take it further on.</p> <p>To our graduates you are not allowed to be secret heroes any longer. We need you now, to be our ambassadors, agents for change, to get out there and spread the word within your local communities, to mentor and encourage others from diverse backgrounds to step forward and take part. Many of you in this room are potential candidates and I need you right here to step up in the politics arena.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s not enough that we&rsquo;ve made a little bit of progress and it isn&rsquo;t enough to be constantly pushing and forcing change because there is so few of us.</p> <p>Equal representation and involvement is our right, all of our right. It is women today who will bring about change tomorrow.</p> <p>Thank you and congratulations to every single one of you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> 2011-03-05 22:29:04 http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ministers/speeches-1/bame_women_councillors_graduat.aspx Lynne Featherstone MP BAME Women Councillors Graduation Event Government Equalities Office Monday 14th June 2010 2010-06-14 00:00:00
<p>&nbsp;</p> <p></p> <p>It was only last month, just prior to the election Theresa and I stood before you as shadow ministers for equality. We spoke of our personal commitment and our parties&rsquo; commitment to build a fairer future for women.</p> <p>But then it was always about what we would do for women if we were in government.</p> <p>Today I stand before you as a government minister for women and equality!</p> <p>For the first time I have the opportunity not only to say, not only to listen, but to actually make change for women. I can turn my commitment and passion for this agenda into action.</p> <p>And I speak on behalf of Theresa when I say it is an enormous honour and privilege for both of us.</p> <p>I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my predecessor Harriet Harman. Her commitment to equality and to women&rsquo;s equality and the energy which she brought to this agenda is exemplary.</p> <h2>No rollback on equality</h2> <p>Now I know there have been some concerns about what place women&rsquo;s issues will have in the new coalition government. And I understand your concerns. These are certainly anything but typical times in the world of politics! And I am not just talking about the coalition. We are in an economic crisis that limits our resources and breeds uncertainty.</p> <p>But let me be clear: there will be NO rollback on equality &ndash; certainly not our watch.</p> <p>Our focus is clear: a bold and ambitious approach to tackling gender inequality.</p> <p>Because we understand that gender equality is not only &lsquo;right;&rsquo; it is necessary. It is not simply a women&rsquo;s agenda. It is everybody&rsquo;s agenda.</p> <h2>Tackling discrimination helps us all</h2> <p>When women in our democratic bodies are vastly outnumbered by men &ndash; it&rsquo;s not just women who lose their voice. Democracy is flawed plain and simple without the vital contribution of women. The quality of political decision making is affected.</p> <p>When a company keeps choosing men only when recruiting senior staff &ndash; it&rsquo;s not just the woman who gets overlooked for promotion. It&rsquo;s the management and performance of the company itself that is called into question. They are losing out on the skills and talents that women bring to the table.</p> <p>When a woman just as capable, just as talented and just as skilled is paid vastly less than a man for similar work, it is not just the woman who loses out on earnings. It&rsquo;s her family&rsquo;s income and prosperity which is affected too.</p> <p>So to pit gender equality against the needs of the economy is a false dichotomy. Gender equality is a prerequisite for the future growth of our economy and the health and stability of our society.</p> <p>We will not let the progress women have made, the progress your organisations have fought so hard for slide backwards in this economic climate.</p> <p>We will be introducing a fairer tax system which will benefit those on low incomes - sadly the majority of whom are women because women are more likely to work part-time and be employed in lower-paid jobs. The level at which income tax is paid will be increased, with the long term objective of raising it to &pound;10,000. This will put money back into the pockets of millions of women, and others on the minimum wage.</p> <p>And while it is a matter of urgency we cut the deficit, let me assure you this will not be disproportionately at the expense of women&rsquo;s jobs. Theresa and I will be vigilant in reminding colleagues of their legal duties to promote equality and introduce impact assessments.</p> <h2>Looking ahead</h2> <p>But we don&rsquo;t simply want to see women through the harsh effects of the recession. We need to ensure they have a fairer future.</p> <p>Building a fairer society is at the heart of the coalition government&rsquo;s programme for change. We believe there are too many barriers to social mobility and equal opportunities in Britain today. For women we want to build a society that works with us and not against us &ndash; where women and men are afforded the same opportunities and choices to realise their full potential.</p> <p>And the issue of equal pay is critical to this. As was spelt out in the Queen&rsquo;s speech on Tuesday, equal pay and measures to remove the barriers to flexible working are absolutely central to the government&rsquo;s reforming programme.</p> <p>We think a new approach is needed. The status quo is clearly not working.</p> <p>While the tax threshold we plan to introduce is on one hand good news for women. The very fact that forty years after the Equal Pay Act, the majority of those on low wages are still women reminds us just how frustratingly slow progress has been &ndash; how difficult it is to remove deep-rooted and entrenched inequality. We have been banging on about equal pay for years.</p> <p>And it is no good assuming the gap only exists because women choose lower-paying professions &ndash; at the high end of the pay spectrum it&rsquo;s no different.</p> <p>In 2008 the highest paid female director of a FTSE 100 company took home &pound;3.8m &ndash; but it is a figure dwarfed by the highest paid man &ndash; who took home &pound;36.8m &ndash; almost ten times as much.</p> <p>Of course I think pay levels like that are obscene. But the issue still is &ndash; from the highest earners to low income earners &ndash; women get the raw deal.</p> <p>The Equality Act is a big step in the right direction.</p> <p>But we don&rsquo;t believe the Act alone will be sufficient to meet the scale of the challenge.</p> <p>Because the causes of the gender pay gap are deep and complex.</p> <p>We know from research that as well as outright discrimination, the pay gap occurs:</p> <ul> <li>because there is lack of quality part-time work for people with caring responsibilities</li> <li>because there are still some jobs that are mostly done by women and some jobs mostly done by men</li> <li>because of interruptions to the labour market, usually due to motherhood</li> <li>and because there is a lack of women in senior roles and in enterprise</li> </ul> <p>And so while focusing on straightforward discrimination is important, if we are to overcome the pay gap, we need to go much wider.</p> <p>That is why as well as measures to promote equal pay and measures to end discrimination; we will work to address all the causes of the pay gap to deliver:</p> <ul> <li>an historic extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees, consulting with businesses on how best to do so</li> <li>a review of fair pay in the public sector and work to promote gender equality on the boards of listed companies</li> </ul> <p>On that point I welcome the news that the Independent Financial Reporting Council has updated their corporate governance code to include stronger references to the importance of diversity on company boards. While we still have a long way to go, this is a critical step forward in shifting that old boy&rsquo;s club culture that still persists in the boardroom.</p> <h2>Working in partnership</h2> <p>But this is all work in progress. Theresa and I are still in the process of setting out the detail of how we are going to take the issue of gender pay forward. And as the leading light, the experts on this issue we are clear we cannot do this without you.</p> <p>We don&rsquo;t want you just to be asking us to make change; we want you to be involved in helping us make that change.</p> <p>We need you to help us formulate fresh ideas, more innovative and creative thinking to make sure we really get to the root of the problem. So I hope today will be the first of many events where I get the opportunity to listen and feed in your thoughts.</p> <p>And we need you to help us win the argument for gender equality. Because we are not always in friendly territory. The virtual absence of women from high level decision making whether it is in politics or in the world of business means our voices are often drowned out.</p> <p>So we need to get our message across a little louder. You know better than anyone that to get things done, to push things through we have to create quite a bit of noise &ndash; cause a bit of trouble! By working together we can cause a lot more trouble and get a lot more things done!</p> <p><strong>Speech ends</strong></p> 2011-03-05 22:29:06 http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ministers/speeches-1/fawcett_society.aspx Lynne Featherstone MP Fawcett Society Government Equalities Office Friday 28th May 2010 2010-05-28 00:00:00
<p>&nbsp;</p> <p></p> <h2>Introduction</h2> <p>Thank you first of all to Women&rsquo;s Aid for inviting me to speak to your national conference. You have been supporting women for over 35 years and I am pleased to see that support is still strong.</p> <p>I am delighted also to be sharing a platform with Natalie Samarasinghe from the United Nations Association of the UK and with Ceri Goddard from the Fawcett Society.</p> <p>They &ndash; and all of you here - have dedicated your lives to helping women. It is my privilege to be able to talk to you today.</p> <h2>VAW is a priority for me</h2> <p>As both Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality, I believe I have a unique opportunity to bring about real change to the lives and to the status of women in this country.</p> <p>My two roles are both important. Not just because I&rsquo;m a woman. Not just because I can continue the work I started in opposition. But because, for me, politics is about ideals; about fighting for progress &ndash; and there is no greater ideal, no greater symbol of progress than equality.</p> <p>As women and as a society we have made great strides. But there is much still to do.</p> <p>Alongside the challenges of ending discrimination in the workplace, tackling the gender pay gap and genuinely empowering women, I am grateful that my brief means that I will be able to effect real change on an issue on which I have campaigned for many years.</p> <p>Violence Against Women is not an aside for me; it is not an after-thought or a secondary consideration.</p> <p>It was a priority for me in opposition and it is a priority for me now I am in government.</p> <p>So have no fear - have no doubt - that your cause is my cause.</p> <h2>Why VAW is a problem</h2> <p>No one in this room will need reminding why I take violence against women so seriously.</p> <p>The cold hard statistics make that abundantly clear: over 1 million victims of domestic abuse each year, over 300,000 women sexually assaulted each year and 60,000 women raped. Overall, one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, often with years of psychological abuse.</p> <p>But behind those numbers on a page are the stories of the real women who experience these horrific crimes.</p> <p>Women like Rana Faruqui, the daughter of my constituent Carol Faruqui, who was brutally stabbed to death by her abusive ex-partner after being subjected to repeated stalking.</p> <p>I am in no doubt that there would be many more women in danger were it not for the work you do in providing over 500 emergency refuges, help-lines, outreach services and advice centres. You help so many women &ndash; with up to 250,000 victims of abuse accessing your member services each year, so on behalf of them all, thank you.</p> <p>But unfortunately not everyone takes violence against women as seriously as you or I. Shockingly, Home Office surveys suggest that a quarter of people think that a woman is in some way responsible for being raped if she wears sexy or revealing clothing.</p> <p>Around one in five people think it would sometimes be acceptable for a man to hit or slap his partner if she wore sexy or revealing clothing.</p> <p>I don&rsquo;t.</p> <p>Let me make clear: my ambition is nothing less than <span class="ImmUnderline_On">ending</span> violence against women and girls.</p> <p>We won&rsquo;t get there this year, we may not even get there in our lifetimes, but just as we won the vote, just as we won equal rights, <span class="ImmUnderline_On">together</span> we can win this fight.</p> <h2>Fiscal Context</h2> <p>But we must also recognise, I&rsquo;m afraid, the seriousness of the financial crisis our country faces.</p> <p>This year, Britain had the highest annual borrowing of any country in the G20. Higher than Argentina and South Africa; Indonesia, Italy and India.</p> <p>We must all do our bit to help reduce the deficit and that obviously includes all government departments.</p> <p>I hope many of you will have read the numerous articles I have written on violence against women or heard me talk before about why I am passionate about supporting and empowering women.</p> <p>You know that this is a priority for me.</p> <p>And I hear from you loud and clear that people around the country see this as a vitally important issue as well.</p> <p>But the spending review in the autumn will inevitably involve some tough decisions.</p> <p>In the past, the solution to a problem seemed to be to throw money at it, regardless of whether this was the best way to fix things or not. And the measure of success seemed to be how much spending had increased.</p> <p>The approach of the past is no longer an option &ndash; Labour&rsquo;s reckless borrowing and spending has seen to that.</p> <p>But their approach was not only irresponsible, it was also ineffective.</p> <p>We will take a more considered, more targeted and, frankly, more sensible approach, that involves the experts &ndash; people like you &ndash; more than ever before.</p> <p>And success for us will not mean we&rsquo;ve spent more of the money we don&rsquo;t have. It will mean more women have been helped, more abusers have been brought to justice and more attitudes have been changed.</p> <h2>Government Action</h2> <p>Of course, even in these difficult financial times, government will still have a strong role to play in tackling violence against women. And I am not going to pretend that the last government did nothing at all. I called for some time for Labour to produce a cross-government strategy for tackling violence against women and, finally, they did publish one but only months after the Conservative Party has published our own strategy.</p> <p>Having called for a strategy while in Opposition, I&rsquo;m not just going to discard that approach now we are in Government. I was convinced of the necessity for a coherent approach then, I argued for it until we got one and I firmly believe we need it now.</p> <p>But having taken too long to publish their strategy, Labour did not even get it completely right. We need a new approach &ndash; not to start from scratch, but to build on the existing work. Not to disregard the work already done but to improve on it and to fix its problems. And as a coalition government we are looking at proposals from both parties in tackling violence against women.</p> <p>For too long Labour only focussed on the Criminal Justice System in <span class="ImmUnderline_On">response</span> to violence against women &ndash; and there is still important work to be done there in improving prosecution rates for domestic violence and for rape, improving rehabilitation for victims and in protection from repeat offenders.</p> <p>We must give the police and the courts the tools they need to tackle violence against women &ndash; be it domestic violence, rape and sexual violence, honour based violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, trafficking or stalking &ndash; each is a serious offence that should be treated as such.</p> <p>But as well as dealing with the consequences of this violence &ndash; we also need to deal with its causes. I hope many of you have read <em>Ending Violence Against Women</em>, the strategy paper that David Cameron and I published in 2008. That document recognised the central role that gender inequality plays &ndash; both as a cause and a consequence of violence against women and committed us to an approach with <span class="ImmUnderline_On">prevention</span>, rightly, at its heart.</p> <p>This is not a Home Office issue alone. This is about schools, the NHS, Job Centres, prisons. That is why I have convened a meeting next week with all my relevant Ministerial colleagues &ndash; including Lynne Featherstone, the Equalities Minister - to discuss a new approach. We will talk to you and we will talk to others and we will publish the results of that work by the spring.</p> <p>But I&rsquo;m sure we all agree that, fundamentally, it is not words that matter, it is action. And the last government did not do nearly enough to follow through on its words.</p> <p>I will not just talk about violence against women as a priority, I will back up my words with real, concrete action:</p> <ul> <li>Working with schools to teach young people about sexual consent and respect in relationships; and I recognise the good work done by Women&rsquo;s Aid in developing the Expect Respect Campaign and the work they do in schools with this and other campaigns;</li> <li>Working with teachers, the police, health care professionals and the voluntary sector to improve early identification; and</li> <li>Woking within government to agree standards. I agree with the UN&rsquo;s definition of violence against women and I will ensure it informs our work across government.</li> </ul> <p>Now let me tell you about some of the real action that this government will take.</p> <h2>No Recourse to Public Funds</h2> <p>I am fully aware of the importance so many of you rightly attach to the Home Office pilot scheme to provide support to those victims of domestic violence who have no recourse to public funds.</p> <p>Every year 1,500 victims of domestic violence apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in this country; 500 of them are destitute.</p> <p>The last government was right to change the rules to allow abused women to apply to stay in this country. But it was wrong to provide no means by which they could be supported in safety while their claims are dealt with.</p> <p>Belatedly the last Government introduced a short-term pilot to fund women&rsquo;s refuges who take in these vulnerable women whilst they apply for Indefinate Leave to Remain.</p> <p>But this pilot was due to come to an end this summer, with no prospect of a long term solution to the difficult issue in sight.</p> <p>You have campaigned and we have listened.</p> <p>Both Coalition parties recognised the importance of this issue in opposition. And now we are in government we will take action.</p> <p>We have already agreed to extend this groundbreaking pilot into September. Today, I can announce that we will commit to funding the scheme until the end of this financial year and to finding a long-term solution to ensure women are protected after that.</p> <p>Even in these financially constrained times there are some things that are too important not to do.</p> <h2>Rape crisis centres / GEO Funding Consultation / Stern Report</h2> <p>In opposition, both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats committed to reverse the decline in rape crisis centres. You can hold us to that commitment.</p> <p>The previous government&rsquo;s short-termist system of funding didn&rsquo;t work. We need a longer-term, more measured and more sustainable approach.</p> <p>We will consider how to use the proceeds from the Victim Surcharge to deliver up to 15 new rape crisis centres, and give existing rape crisis centres stable, long-term funding.</p> <p>The Government Equalities Office is also consulting more widely on the issue of sustainability for the entire violence against women voluntary sector. I would encourage you all to get your responses in to that consultation by the 23rd of July. This will inform our plans to make sure that specialist domestic and sexual violence services are sustained. And we recognise that all of you here play a crucial role in protecting and preventing abuse.</p> <p>We will ask for your ideas. But we will also provide leadership. At a national level we will publish a full government response to Baroness Stern&rsquo;s insightful and far-ranging review into the handling of rape complaints.</p> <p>But we also need to provide leadership on a local level. Local Authorities must not see this sector as an &ldquo;easy cut&rdquo; when making difficult decisions.</p> <p>We recognise that they, and others, will not always get things right - just as central government does not always get it right. Mistakes will be made, but where they are we will advise them and we will set them on the right path. Some Local Authorities, for example, misunderstood the gender equality duty and so failed to fund badly needed women-only services for victims of violence, or have transferred funding away to other generic and non-specialist services. We will work with them, and with the sector, to address this issue together. and ensure that we influence the future delivery of appropriate services</p> <h2>Big Society</h2> <p>These are just some of the areas where the Government will take clear decisive action. But as I have already said, we will not be able to do it all. Not just because of the financial wreck Labour left behind, but because even if we did have the money, government <span class="ImmUnderline_On">could no</span>t do it all &ndash; government could not end violence against women alone.</p> <p>We need <span class="ImmUnderline_On">your</span> help.</p> <p>People ask what the Government means by the Big Society &ndash; well as far as I&rsquo;m concerned you <span class="ImmUnderline_On">are</span> the Big Society.</p> <p>You are the ones who run the refuges; who empower the frightened and the abused; who protect the vulnerable.</p> <p>In many ways, the women&rsquo;s sector is a model of the Big Society we wish to build. That is a societry in which we all work together to address problems, conscious that government has a role to play but that it does not have all the answers, and recognising the role played by charities, voluntary groups and others alongside central and local government. You&rsquo;re way ahead of us with this. The support services you provide and have been providing for over 35 years are invaluable to so many &ndash; thank you for all that you do.</p> <p>But we need to go further. We need to empower even more organisations, communities and individuals to work together to tackle violence against women. And it is not just about delivering services. It is about giving people a voice, bringing people together to take ownership of a problem and working together to find a solution. It is about challenging assumptions and changing attitudes on every level of society. Change is often most powerful when it comes from the bottom up.</p> <p>But let me be clear &ndash; the Big Society does not mean Government withdrawing, leaving the voluntary sector to pick up the pieces. The vision of this government is to build a society where we all come to together to solve problems; where we don&rsquo;t just ask what government can do, but what people can do; where we all pull together and work together, because we are all in this together.</p> <p>That means where the voluntary sector does such excellent work &ndash; like in the provision of refuges and rape crisis centres &ndash; the Government ensures the funding it provides is on a stable, long-term basis, ending the culture of charities having to survive hand-to-mouth, facing the threat of imminent closure.</p> <p>But it also means Government taking action where no one else can &ndash; that is why I am committed to extending the no recourse to public funds pilot while we find a long term solution to this issue.</p> <p>And it means <span class="ImmUnderline_On">everyone</span> working together to achieve the cultural change we need to tackle this problem. Think about it: it&rsquo;s only when businesses appreciate their responsibility to end the sexualisation of women that some people will stop treating women like objects. It&rsquo;s only when police officers, teachers and health workers realise they need to look out for the early warning signs that domestic violence will be spotted early. And it&rsquo;s only when our communities stand up and say violence against women is unacceptable &ndash; through initiatives like Women&rsquo;s Aid&rsquo;s &ldquo;Real Man&rdquo; campaign &ndash; that attitudes will really begin to change.</p> <h2>Conclusion</h2> <p>So have confidence that together we can tackle violence against women.</p> <p>And rest assured that there will be government action where necessary, but that we will harness society&rsquo;s action where possible.</p> <p>Not just because money is tight but because, actually, you know best, not Whitehall, and we will ensure that those who know about providing specialist services, like Women&rsquo;s Aid, are key partners in our plans.</p> <p>In the Big Society, we will need your hard work, your dedication and your effort. Not because government will give up or step back, but because we all need to work together to achieve our aim.</p> <p>I will support you and I will fight for you. I will provide you with a voice and a platform.</p> <p>My ambition is to end violence against women. By working together we can.</p> <p>Thank you</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Speech ends</em></strong></p> 2011-05-04T16:25:42.413113 http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ministers/speeches-1/women%92s_aid_national_conferenc.aspx Rt Hon Theresa May MP Women’s Aid National Conference Government Equalities Office Friday 16th July 2010 2010-07-16T00:00:00
<p>&nbsp;</p> <p></p> <h2>Introduction</h2> <p>Thank you first of all to Women&rsquo;s Aid for inviting me to speak to your national conference. You have been supporting women for over 35 years and I am pleased to see that support is still strong.</p> <p>I am delighted also to be sharing a platform with Natalie Samarasinghe from the United Nations Association of the UK and with Ceri Goddard from the Fawcett Society.</p> <p>They &ndash; and all of you here - have dedicated your lives to helping women. It is my privilege to be able to talk to you today.</p> <h2>VAW is a priority for me</h2> <p>As both Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality, I believe I have a unique opportunity to bring about real change to the lives and to the status of women in this country.</p> <p>My two roles are both important. Not just because I&rsquo;m a woman. Not just because I can continue the work I started in opposition. But because, for me, politics is about ideals; about fighting for progress &ndash; and there is no greater ideal, no greater symbol of progress than equality.</p> <p>As women and as a society we have made great strides. But there is much still to do.</p> <p>Alongside the challenges of ending discrimination in the workplace, tackling the gender pay gap and genuinely empowering women, I am grateful that my brief means that I will be able to effect real change on an issue on which I have campaigned for many years.</p> <p>Violence Against Women is not an aside for me; it is not an after-thought or a secondary consideration.</p> <p>It was a priority for me in opposition and it is a priority for me now I am in government.</p> <p>So have no fear - have no doubt - that your cause is my cause.</p> <h2>Why VAW is a problem</h2> <p>No one in this room will need reminding why I take violence against women so seriously.</p> <p>The cold hard statistics make that abundantly clear: over 1 million victims of domestic abuse each year, over 300,000 women sexually assaulted each year and 60,000 women raped. Overall, one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, often with years of psychological abuse.</p> <p>But behind those numbers on a page are the stories of the real women who experience these horrific crimes.</p> <p>Women like Rana Faruqui, the daughter of my constituent Carol Faruqui, who was brutally stabbed to death by her abusive ex-partner after being subjected to repeated stalking.</p> <p>I am in no doubt that there would be many more women in danger were it not for the work you do in providing over 500 emergency refuges, help-lines, outreach services and advice centres. You help so many women &ndash; with up to 250,000 victims of abuse accessing your member services each year, so on behalf of them all, thank you.</p> <p>But unfortunately not everyone takes violence against women as seriously as you or I. Shockingly, Home Office surveys suggest that a quarter of people think that a woman is in some way responsible for being raped if she wears sexy or revealing clothing.</p> <p>Around one in five people think it would sometimes be acceptable for a man to hit or slap his partner if she wore sexy or revealing clothing.</p> <p>I don&rsquo;t.</p> <p>Let me make clear: my ambition is nothing less than <span class="ImmUnderline_On">ending</span> violence against women and girls.</p> <p>We won&rsquo;t get there this year, we may not even get there in our lifetimes, but just as we won the vote, just as we won equal rights, <span class="ImmUnderline_On">together</span> we can win this fight.</p> <h2>Fiscal Context</h2> <p>But we must also recognise, I&rsquo;m afraid, the seriousness of the financial crisis our country faces.</p> <p>This year, Britain had the highest annual borrowing of any country in the G20. Higher than Argentina and South Africa; Indonesia, Italy and India.</p> <p>We must all do our bit to help reduce the deficit and that obviously includes all government departments.</p> <p>I hope many of you will have read the numerous articles I have written on violence against women or heard me talk before about why I am passionate about supporting and empowering women.</p> <p>You know that this is a priority for me.</p> <p>And I hear from you loud and clear that people around the country see this as a vitally important issue as well.</p> <p>But the spending review in the autumn will inevitably involve some tough decisions.</p> <p>In the past, the solution to a problem seemed to be to throw money at it, regardless of whether this was the best way to fix things or not. And the measure of success seemed to be how much spending had increased.</p> <p>The approach of the past is no longer an option &ndash; Labour&rsquo;s reckless borrowing and spending has seen to that.</p> <p>But their approach was not only irresponsible, it was also ineffective.</p> <p>We will take a more considered, more targeted and, frankly, more sensible approach, that involves the experts &ndash; people like you &ndash; more than ever before.</p> <p>And success for us will not mean we&rsquo;ve spent more of the money we don&rsquo;t have. It will mean more women have been helped, more abusers have been brought to justice and more attitudes have been changed.</p> <h2>Government Action</h2> <p>Of course, even in these difficult financial times, government will still have a strong role to play in tackling violence against women. And I am not going to pretend that the last government did nothing at all. I called for some time for Labour to produce a cross-government strategy for tackling violence against women and, finally, they did publish one but only months after the Conservative Party has published our own strategy.</p> <p>Having called for a strategy while in Opposition, I&rsquo;m not just going to discard that approach now we are in Government. I was convinced of the necessity for a coherent approach then, I argued for it until we got one and I firmly believe we need it now.</p> <p>But having taken too long to publish their strategy, Labour did not even get it completely right. We need a new approach &ndash; not to start from scratch, but to build on the existing work. Not to disregard the work already done but to improve on it and to fix its problems. And as a coalition government we are looking at proposals from both parties in tackling violence against women.</p> <p>For too long Labour only focussed on the Criminal Justice System in <span class="ImmUnderline_On">response</span> to violence against women &ndash; and there is still important work to be done there in improving prosecution rates for domestic violence and for rape, improving rehabilitation for victims and in protection from repeat offenders.</p> <p>We must give the police and the courts the tools they need to tackle violence against women &ndash; be it domestic violence, rape and sexual violence, honour based violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, trafficking or stalking &ndash; each is a serious offence that should be treated as such.</p> <p>But as well as dealing with the consequences of this violence &ndash; we also need to deal with its causes. I hope many of you have read <em>Ending Violence Against Women</em>, the strategy paper that David Cameron and I published in 2008. That document recognised the central role that gender inequality plays &ndash; both as a cause and a consequence of violence against women and committed us to an approach with <span class="ImmUnderline_On">prevention</span>, rightly, at its heart.</p> <p>This is not a Home Office issue alone. This is about schools, the NHS, Job Centres, prisons. That is why I have convened a meeting next week with all my relevant Ministerial colleagues &ndash; including Lynne Featherstone, the Equalities Minister - to discuss a new approach. We will talk to you and we will talk to others and we will publish the results of that work by the spring.</p> <p>But I&rsquo;m sure we all agree that, fundamentally, it is not words that matter, it is action. And the last government did not do nearly enough to follow through on its words.</p> <p>I will not just talk about violence against women as a priority, I will back up my words with real, concrete action:</p> <ul> <li>Working with schools to teach young people about sexual consent and respect in relationships; and I recognise the good work done by Women&rsquo;s Aid in developing the Expect Respect Campaign and the work they do in schools with this and other campaigns;</li> <li>Working with teachers, the police, health care professionals and the voluntary sector to improve early identification; and</li> <li>Woking within government to agree standards. I agree with the UN&rsquo;s definition of violence against women and I will ensure it informs our work across government.</li> </ul> <p>Now let me tell you about some of the real action that this government will take.</p> <h2>No Recourse to Public Funds</h2> <p>I am fully aware of the importance so many of you rightly attach to the Home Office pilot scheme to provide support to those victims of domestic violence who have no recourse to public funds.</p> <p>Every year 1,500 victims of domestic violence apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in this country; 500 of them are destitute.</p> <p>The last government was right to change the rules to allow abused women to apply to stay in this country. But it was wrong to provide no means by which they could be supported in safety while their claims are dealt with.</p> <p>Belatedly the last Government introduced a short-term pilot to fund women&rsquo;s refuges who take in these vulnerable women whilst they apply for Indefinate Leave to Remain.</p> <p>But this pilot was due to come to an end this summer, with no prospect of a long term solution to the difficult issue in sight.</p> <p>You have campaigned and we have listened.</p> <p>Both Coalition parties recognised the importance of this issue in opposition. And now we are in government we will take action.</p> <p>We have already agreed to extend this groundbreaking pilot into September. Today, I can announce that we will commit to funding the scheme until the end of this financial year and to finding a long-term solution to ensure women are protected after that.</p> <p>Even in these financially constrained times there are some things that are too important not to do.</p> <h2>Rape crisis centres / GEO Funding Consultation / Stern Report</h2> <p>In opposition, both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats committed to reverse the decline in rape crisis centres. You can hold us to that commitment.</p> <p>The previous government&rsquo;s short-termist system of funding didn&rsquo;t work. We need a longer-term, more measured and more sustainable approach.</p> <p>We will consider how to use the proceeds from the Victim Surcharge to deliver up to 15 new rape crisis centres, and give existing rape crisis centres stable, long-term funding.</p> <p>The Government Equalities Office is also consulting more widely on the issue of sustainability for the entire violence against women voluntary sector. I would encourage you all to get your responses in to that consultation by the 23rd of July. This will inform our plans to make sure that specialist domestic and sexual violence services are sustained. And we recognise that all of you here play a crucial role in protecting and preventing abuse.</p> <p>We will ask for your ideas. But we will also provide leadership. At a national level we will publish a full government response to Baroness Stern&rsquo;s insightful and far-ranging review into the handling of rape complaints.</p> <p>But we also need to provide leadership on a local level. Local Authorities must not see this sector as an &ldquo;easy cut&rdquo; when making difficult decisions.</p> <p>We recognise that they, and others, will not always get things right - just as central government does not always get it right. Mistakes will be made, but where they are we will advise them and we will set them on the right path. Some Local Authorities, for example, misunderstood the gender equality duty and so failed to fund badly needed women-only services for victims of violence, or have transferred funding away to other generic and non-specialist services. We will work with them, and with the sector, to address this issue together. and ensure that we influence the future delivery of appropriate services</p> <h2>Big Society</h2> <p>These are just some of the areas where the Government will take clear decisive action. But as I have already said, we will not be able to do it all. Not just because of the financial wreck Labour left behind, but because even if we did have the money, government <span class="ImmUnderline_On">could no</span>t do it all &ndash; government could not end violence against women alone.</p> <p>We need <span class="ImmUnderline_On">your</span> help.</p> <p>People ask what the Government means by the Big Society &ndash; well as far as I&rsquo;m concerned you <span class="ImmUnderline_On">are</span> the Big Society.</p> <p>You are the ones who run the refuges; who empower the frightened and the abused; who protect the vulnerable.</p> <p>In many ways, the women&rsquo;s sector is a model of the Big Society we wish to build. That is a societry in which we all work together to address problems, conscious that government has a role to play but that it does not have all the answers, and recognising the role played by charities, voluntary groups and others alongside central and local government. You&rsquo;re way ahead of us with this. The support services you provide and have been providing for over 35 years are invaluable to so many &ndash; thank you for all that you do.</p> <p>But we need to go further. We need to empower even more organisations, communities and individuals to work together to tackle violence against women. And it is not just about delivering services. It is about giving people a voice, bringing people together to take ownership of a problem and working together to find a solution. It is about challenging assumptions and changing attitudes on every level of society. Change is often most powerful when it comes from the bottom up.</p> <p>But let me be clear &ndash; the Big Society does not mean Government withdrawing, leaving the voluntary sector to pick up the pieces. The vision of this government is to build a society where we all come to together to solve problems; where we don&rsquo;t just ask what government can do, but what people can do; where we all pull together and work together, because we are all in this together.</p> <p>That means where the voluntary sector does such excellent work &ndash; like in the provision of refuges and rape crisis centres &ndash; the Government ensures the funding it provides is on a stable, long-term basis, ending the culture of charities having to survive hand-to-mouth, facing the threat of imminent closure.</p> <p>But it also means Government taking action where no one else can &ndash; that is why I am committed to extending the no recourse to public funds pilot while we find a long term solution to this issue.</p> <p>And it means <span class="ImmUnderline_On">everyone</span> working together to achieve the cultural change we need to tackle this problem. Think about it: it&rsquo;s only when businesses appreciate their responsibility to end the sexualisation of women that some people will stop treating women like objects. It&rsquo;s only when police officers, teachers and health workers realise they need to look out for the early warning signs that domestic violence will be spotted early. And it&rsquo;s only when our communities stand up and say violence against women is unacceptable &ndash; through initiatives like Women&rsquo;s Aid&rsquo;s &ldquo;Real Man&rdquo; campaign &ndash; that attitudes will really begin to change.</p> <h2>Conclusion</h2> <p>So have confidence that together we can tackle violence against women.</p> <p>And rest assured that there will be government action where necessary, but that we will harness society&rsquo;s action where possible.</p> <p>Not just because money is tight but because, actually, you know best, not Whitehall, and we will ensure that those who know about providing specialist services, like Women&rsquo;s Aid, are key partners in our plans.</p> <p>In the Big Society, we will need your hard work, your dedication and your effort. Not because government will give up or step back, but because we all need to work together to achieve our aim.</p> <p>I will support you and I will fight for you. I will provide you with a voice and a platform.</p> <p>My ambition is to end violence against women. By working together we can.</p> <p>Thank you</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Speech ends</em></strong></p> None http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ministers/speeches-1/women%e2%80%99s_aid_national_conferenc.aspx Rt Hon Theresa May MP Women’s Aid National Conference Government Equalities Office Friday 16th July 2010 2010-07-16 00:00:00
<p>&nbsp;</p> <p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">It&rsquo;s a tremendous pleasure to be able to be here at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards once again.&nbsp; And I have to say that each year the awards get stronger, the scope gets greater and I have to say I think they get a little more glamorous every year too.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It is great to be here and these awards do something very special because they recognise the achievement of Asian women throughout the UK and across all walks of life. And I&rsquo;d like to thank the sponsors of the awards, particularly Lloyds Banking Group who have been the headline sponsors for a number of years now. Because that sponsorship of course is very important for these awards to maintain them year on year.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">As I say the breadth of these awards just shows the tremendous, immense contribution that Asian women are making across all aspects of our life across the UK. As well as thanking the sponsors, I also just like to say my personal word of thanks to Pinky Lilani who I believe is a truly inspirational woman in everything she does. If I may say you are a true ambassador for Asian women. Thank you for all that you do.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I say that the breadth of these awards shows contribution that Asian women are making to our life here in the UK. I think that nowhere is that more apparent than in this entrepreneur of the year award. All of these women have shown the drive, the tenacity, the dedication to make their dreams come true.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">They are all role models. Although role models are not just for women and for gender equality. Role models I believe are for British economic competitiveness, entrepreneurship and British prosperity. And if you remember that behind each of these women is thousands of Asian business women up and down the UK. Now, I think we need more women entrepreneurs. We need more women entrepreneurs not just because it&rsquo;s right but actually we need to make the use of the talent that women have and to tap into the potential that women have. That&rsquo;s important not just for them but it&rsquo;s particularly important today when we&rsquo;re pulling out of what has been a recession of unprecedented proportions.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And if you just think about this ladies and gentlemen, that if we women were setting up businesses at the same rate as men we&rsquo;d have 150,000 more businesses in the UK. If women in the UK were setting up businesses in the same rate as women do in the United States, we&rsquo;d have 600,000 more businesses in the UK and contribute something like 42 billion pounds per year in the British economy. So, I say to those women entrepreneurs out there, we need you, we need your talent, we need your ideas, we need your innovations. The nominees today have shown it can be done, they show that with dedication you can go out there and you can make your dream come true.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And I stand here as the new Home Secretary but also Minister for Women and Equality.&nbsp; So this year I am able to say that I am actually intending to put into practice some of the things I&rsquo;m saying because I believe passionately in encouraging women and encouraging women in the workplace and encouraging women to set up their own businesses. And so what I would want to be doing is to make sure that women have those opportunities and working life can work around women and enable them to use their talent to their advantage but also to the advantage of the UK as a whole.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And so I am delighted to be presenting this award tonight.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Speech Ends</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> None http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ministers/speeches-1/asian_women_of_achievement_awa.aspx Rt Hon Theresa May MP Asian Women of Achievement Awards Government Equalities Office Wednesday 19th May 2010 2010-05-19 00:00:00
<p class="intro"></p> <p>I am delighted to be here today at the Coin Street Community Centre to talk about a subject which is close to my heart.</p> <p>Equality is not an aside for me; it is not an after-thought or a secondary consideration. It is at the heart of what this coalition government is about.</p> <p>We have more women MPs than ever before. We have more black and ethnic minority MPs than ever before. We have the first Muslim woman to serve in the Cabinet. We have more openly gay MPs than ever before.</p> <p>And importantly every single one of them is there because of their talent and ability.</p> <p>The pace of change wasn&rsquo;t always as fast as I might like, and there is certainly a long way still to go. But I think that everyone in Britain can be proud that we now have the most diverse parliament in our history.</p> <h3><br /> What We Mean By Equality</h3> <p>For this government the equalities agenda is about fairness: that is, equal treatment and equal opportunity.</p> <p>It is not right or fair when people are discriminated against because of who they are or what they believe.</p> <p>And it is not right or fair when the opportunities open to people are not based on their ambition, ability or hard work, but on who their parents are or where they live.</p> <p>But even as we increase equality of opportunity, some people will always do better than others.</p> <p>And, certainly, I do not believe in a world where everybody gets the same out of life, regardless of what they put in.</p> <p>That is why no government should try to ensure equal outcomes for everyone.</p> <p>But we do need to recognise that in trying to ensure equality of opportunity &ndash; the &ldquo;gap&rdquo; still matters.</p> <p>Those growing up in households which have fallen too far behind have fewer opportunities available to them and they are less able to take the opportunities that are available. We see it with families of three generations who have no qualifications and no job.</p> <p>But you do not improve the lives of those at the bottom by limiting the ambitions and opportunities of others. Instead, we need to design intelligent policies that give those at the bottom real opportunities to make a better life for themselves.</p> <p>Achieving equality of treatment and equality of opportunity are aims that the vast majority of people would regard as sensible and noble goals for government policy.</p> <p>But in recent years, equality has become a dirty word because it meant something different. It came to be associated with the worst forms of pointless political correctness and social engineering.</p> <p>I want to turn around the equalities agenda and I want to change people&rsquo;s perception of what the government is trying to achieve on equality.</p> <p>I want us to move away from the identity politics of the past &ndash; where government thought it knew all about you because you ticked a box on a form or fitted into a certain category &ndash; and instead start to recognise that we are a nation of 62 million individuals. And that means demonstrating that equality is for everyone by making it a part of everyday life.</p> <p>And I want us to move away from the arrogant notion from government that it knows best. Government can act as a leader, a convenor and an advocate for change. But on its own it will only ever make limited progress. We need to work with people, communities and businesses to empower them to enact change.</p> <p>Only if we do that; only if we work with the grain of human nature, not against it, will we achieve the fairer, more equal and more prosperous society that we all want to see.</p> <h3>Why Equality matters</h3> <p>We can all agree on our ultimate aim of a better society. But I want to explain why equality of opportunity and equal treatment will help us to achieve that better society.</p> <p>I think there are three main reasons: moral, social and economic.</p> <p>Morally, everyone would agree that people have a right to be treated equally and to live their lives free from discrimination. Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of discrimination knows how painful, hurtful and damaging it can be and why we should seek to eliminate it from our society. And anyone who has ever witnessed discrimination would want to stamp it out.</p> <p>So equality is not just important to us as individuals. It is also essential to our wellbeing as a society. Strong communities are ones where everyone feels like they have got a voice and can make a difference.</p> <p>And those people within communities who are allowed to fall too far behind are more likely to get caught up in social problems like crime, addiction and unemployment.</p> <p>That brings me on to the third reason why equality matters. Economically, equality of opportunity is vital to our prosperity. It is central to building a strong, modern economy that benefits from the talents of all of its members.&nbsp;</p> <p>The National Audit Office recently estimated that the overall cost to the economy from the failure to fully use the talents of ethnic minorities could be more than eight billion pounds. Better use of women&rsquo;s skills could be worth fifteen to twenty three billion pounds each year. We can no longer afford to keep missing out on the economic benefits that greater equality could bring.</p> <p>So equality is not an add on or an optional extra that we should only care about when money is plentiful &ndash; it matters morally, it is important to our well-being as a society and it is crucial to our economy.</p> <h3>UK Has Come a Long Way</h3> <p>As we look at ensuring equality of treatment and enhancing equality of opportunity, it is important to acknowledge that we have come a long way.</p> <p>As recently as 1967, people like the war hero Alan Turing were prosecuted for homosexual acts between consenting adults. As recently as 1968 it was legal to refuse housing, employment or public services to people because of their ethnic background. And as recently as 1975 it was legal to pay women less than men for exactly the same work.</p> <p>These examples of discrimination needed to be dealt with. And they needed to be dealt with using the full force of Paliamentary law.</p> <p>And I am not going to pretend that the last government did nothing. Civil Partnership legislation, for example, marked a great advance for gay rights in this country.</p> <h3><br /> The Old Approach</h3> <p>But these old injustices have been outlawed and we now have some of the most comprehensive equality laws in the world. And yet inequality persists.</p> <p>Decades after equal pay laws were passed the full time gender pay gap for women stands at over twelve percent, increasing to twenty two percent if part-time employees are included.</p> <p>Despite new legislation on hate crime, many gay people still suffer from intolerance.</p> <p>Despite legislation like the Disability Discrimination Act, around a third of disabled people still experience difficulties in accessing goods or services.</p> <p>And despite some of the longest standing and broadest based race equality laws in Europe, some ethnic minorities still suffer inequalities in education, employment and health &ndash; estimates suggest that at least 4 in 10 black men could be on the National DNA Database.</p> <p>The answer isn&rsquo;t just more laws, regulations and targets &ndash; it&rsquo;s time for a more intelligent approach.</p> <p>Just look at the socio-economic duty. It was meant to force public authorities to take into account inequality of outcome when making decisions about their policies.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> In reality, it would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people&rsquo;s life chances.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> But at its worst, it could have meant public spending permanently skewed towards certain parts of the country. Valued public services meant to benefit everyone in the community closed down in some areas and reopened in others.&nbsp; Council services like bin collections and bus routes designed not on the basis of practical need but on this one politically-motivated target.&nbsp;</p> <p>You can&rsquo;t solve a problem as complex as inequality in one legal clause.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> You can&rsquo;t make people&rsquo;s lives better by simply passing a law saying that they should be made better. That was as ridiculous as it was simplistic and that is why I am announcing today that we are scrapping the socio-economic duty for good.</p> <p>We shouldn&rsquo;t just compensate people for the barriers to opportunity that they face, we should take action to tear down those barriers altogether.</p> <p>And let me take this opportunity to make one thing clear: fairness includes dealing responsibly with the deficit. It is not &ldquo;unfair&rdquo; to tackle the record deficit. What is unfair is leaving our children to pay off the debts.</p> <p>We must take and we have taken account of how the cuts will affect different parts of society. I know that women rely on public services more than men and I know that more women work in the public sector than men.</p> <p>But that does not mean we should not deal with the deficit.</p> <p>If we ignore the situation now, if we allow even more debt to rack up, then we would have to make deeper cuts to public spending in the future and we would face more public sector job losses.</p> <p>But as we deal with the record deficit, we have chosen to do so in a way that protects the most vulnerable, whether they are men, women or children.</p> <p>So we will increase child tax credits for the poorest families, protecting against rises in child poverty.</p> <p>We will increase spending on the NHS in real terms every year.</p> <p>We will lift 880 thousand of the lowest paid workers out of income tax altogether.</p> <p>And we will protect the lowest paid public sector workers, the majority of whom are women, from the public sector pay freeze.</p> <p>And let me also say that I reject the fundamentally flawed idea that tackling the deficit will unfairly hit the single homogeneous group labelled &ldquo;women&rdquo;.</p> <p>There are over 31 million women in the UK - each of them is an individual and each of them will be affected differently by the changes we are making. Consider the woman who runs a small business and who will benefit from our corporation tax changes. Consider the woman who is an employer and who can keep all of her staff because we scrapped the proposed increase in employer national insurance contributions. Consider the woman on the minimum wage who we will take out of tax completely.</p> <h3>A new way of looking at the problem</h3> <p>Part of the problem with this old approach to equalities was that it categorised millions of people according to what box they ticked on a form. It stopped treating people like individuals and instead viewed them as part of some amorphous herd.</p> <p>The idea that as a person you are defined solely by your gender, by your race or by your religion is as patronising as it is absurd.</p> <p>Of course I recognise that people can face discrimination because of who they are and disadvantage because of where they&rsquo;re from. And we will still need specific action to deal with specific problems.</p> <p>But we need to move beyond defining people simply by their membership of a particular group.</p> <p>People are individuals.</p> <p>Recognition of this simple fact allows us to start looking at the problem differently and, importantly, to start looking at the solutions differently.</p> <h3>A new approach</h3> <p>We need our equalities policy to work with the grain of human nature, not against it.</p> <p>That means government no longer dictating how people should behave.</p> <p>Instead we need to put in place an architecture to support business and wider society to do the right thing.</p> <p>We will take a new approach to tackling the causes of inequality. We will use targeted action to deal with its consequences. And we will ensure accountability by shining the light of transparency on organisations, allowing their performance to be challenged and acting as a driver for change.</p> <h3>Causes</h3> <p>Of course, money still matters. Nobody is pretending that it doesn&rsquo;t. But how you spend that money is just as important as how much you spend.</p> <p>To make a difference, spending needs to be directed at key interventions that will really help to alter someone&rsquo;s life chances.&nbsp;</p> <p>So despite the difficult decisions we have had to make to deal with the deficit, we have prioritised spending on early interventions and on schools.</p> <p>Over the course of the spending review we will spend over &pound;7billion on a new fairness premium. That will give all disadvantaged two year olds an entitlement to 15 hours a week of pre-school education. It also includes a &pound;2.5billion per year pupil premium to support disadvantaged children. These measures, combined with our plans for extra health visitors and a more focused sure start, will give children the best possible start in life.</p> <p>So money is important. But there are causes of inequality that cannot simply be solved by spending more and more money. Cultures, attitudes and behaviours can all create barriers to equal opportunities that government alone cannot solve. So government needs to create a framework within which individuals, communities and businesses can bring about change.</p> <p>Take flexible working. Introducing the right to request flexible working for some was a positive step. But by limiting that right to parents and carers, it perpetuated the idea that flexible working is some form of special treatment.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> We will extend the right to request to all, helping to shift behaviour away from the traditional nine to five model of work that can act as a barrier to so many people and that often doesn&rsquo;t make sense for many modern businesses. Crucially, rather than dictating what employers and employees should do, our approach will provide them with the choice to do what is best for them.</p> <p>And some of our best companies are already taking up the baton &ndash; Tesco is now offering its 340 thousand employees the chance to do more hours that fit in around their other commitments. And some of Britain&rsquo;s most innovative and successful small and medium sized enterprises are showing that flexible working is good for their businesses as well &ndash; companies like the StopGap Group and Metal Assemblies.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Our new system of flexible parental leave will also provide a framework in which parents are able to make the right choices for their family. The current division of maternity and paternity leave limits choice. But it is also a state-endorsed perpetuation of the stereotype that women should take on the lion&rsquo;s share of caring responsibilities when a couple starts a family.</p> <p>And we have consulted on removing the default retirement age, giving employees and employers the option to decide what works for them.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> So our approach is not about government dictating what people and businesses should do &ndash; it&rsquo;s about giving people and businesses the chance to choose what is right for them. The current framework is not fair, and that&rsquo;s why we&rsquo;re changing it.</p> <h3>Consequences</h3> <p>But the sad reality is that whilst we take action to deal with the causes of inequality, too many people are living with its day to day consequences.</p> <p>There are areas where direct government action can make a difference.</p> <p>The DNA database currently treats thousands of innocent citizens like criminals. And this can have a disproportionate effect on some of those already at risk of feeling alienated from the state &ndash; like young black men who have been repeatedly stopped and searched and even arrested without ever being found guilty of a crime.</p> <p>So we will introduce a new system for holding people&rsquo;s DNA &ndash; destroying the records of the innocent whilst putting all those who have committed a crime on to the database.</p> <p>We can also ensure that we take tough action against those who carry out discrimination and hatred.</p> <p>So we will give schools the power to take tough action to tackle bullying, including homophobic and transphobic bullying. And we are conducting research on how to prevent and respond to bullying of disabled children and children with Special Educational Needs.</p> <p>And we also need to correct historical injustices. So I am pleased to announce today that we will introduce measures in the freedom bill so that it is possible for those with old convictions for consensual gay sex to apply for their record to be deleted from the police national computer so that they no longer have to declare them and they won&rsquo;t show up on criminal record checks.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Accountability and Transparency<br /> &nbsp;<br /> To drive change across all of these areas, we need to make organisations more transparent and more accountable.</p> <p>Last month we stopped pay secrecy clauses being used to hide unfair behaviour in paying men and women differently &ndash; that enhanced transparency.</p> <p>We reshaped plans for the public sector Equality Duty so it now focuses on providing information to enable citizens to hold public bodies to account &ndash; that enhanced transparency.</p> <p>And across government when we published details of salaries, of contracts awarded and of organisational structures &ndash; that enhanced transparency. We want the private and voluntary sectors to follow our lead.</p> <p>As we enhance transparency, we shine a light on the behaviour of government and businesses. That empowers people to hold organisations to account for their behaviour. And that in turn encourages organisations to change their behaviour.</p> <p>But we want to go further. We will empower local community groups, faith groups, charities and other civic organisations to become more involved in delivering public services. These groups are often better at drawing in under-represented people than government, opening up delivery of public services to a broader range of participants.</p> <p>Services which are designed by the people who use them are more appropriate for individuals, more responsive to their needs and more effective in delivering the outcomes we want.</p> <p>From December 2010 we will be testing the Right to Control in five initial Trailblazer areas.</p> <p>The Right is based on the principle that disabled people are the experts in their own lives and are best placed to decide what support they need and how it should be delivered.</p> <p>Disabled people taking part will have a legal right to be told how much support they are eligible to receive, to decide and agree the outcomes they want to achieve and will have choice and control over how they receive support.</p> <p>And we need to also ensure that local government, central government and Parliament are truly representative of the communities they serve. So we are providing extra support to tackle the particular obstacles faced by disabled people who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials and we are establishing internships in all government departments for young people from ethnic minority backgrounds.</p> <h3>Conclusion</h3> <p>As a nation we have come a long way, but there is much still to do.</p> <p>The reality remains that too many people face barriers to their full potential because of where they come from or who they are, irrespective of their talents and efforts.&nbsp;</p> <p>To fix these problems we need a new approach, which reflects our modern society.</p> <p>An approach that does not pigeon hole vast swathes of the population, but that treats them as the individuals they are.</p> <p><br /> An approach that deals with the causes of inequality as well as its consequences. And an approach which really brings about changes in behaviour, increases individual choice and enhances transparency.&nbsp;</p> <p>We in government will play our part. We will build a framework for equalities within which community groups, charities, businesses and individuals can bring about change.</p> <p>But it doesn&rsquo;t just take a Minister and a law to change Britain and to build a fairer society.</p> <p>In the end, it will take all of us working together to build the strong, modern and fair Britain that we all want to see.</p> <p>Thank you.</p> None http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ministers/speeches-1/equalities_strategy_speech.aspx Rt Hon Theresa May MP May: Political Correctness won't lead to equality Government Equalities Office Wednesday, 17 Nov 2010 2010-11-17 00:00:00
<p style="COLOR: #009de0"></p> <p><strong>INTRODUCTION&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Thank you Jennie for that introduction. And thank you so much for the kind invitation to speak this evening.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s a huge honour.</p> <p class="displayarticle">Obviously, I am here first and foremost as the Minister with responsibility for equalities. But I am also here as a long standing and passionate campaigner for trans equality.</p> <p class="displayarticle">And I can tell you from that experience, what is taking place here today is pretty incredible.</p> <p class="displayarticle">There will campaigners in this room today who like me will know what a struggle it has been to ensure trans issues even got a look in.</p> <p class="displayarticle">And here we have today one of the biggest public-service broadcasters with a reach of millions and millions of viewers everyday, making a firm commitment to improve the coverage of transgender people and transgender issues.&nbsp;</p> <p class="displayarticle">I want to extend my warmest congratulations to Channel Four not only for taking this step, but for all you do to champion equality. You have been at the vanguard of bringing the accurate portrayal of LGB&amp;T issues to our television screens - from the first lesbian kiss on Brookside to being the first channel today to deal with issues of transitioning head on.</p> <p class="displayarticle">I also want to pay tribute to all the team at Trans Media Watch for the hard work that gone into making this happen.</p> <p class="displayarticle">But we cannot let this begin and end here.</p> <p class="displayarticle">I believe that wider endorsement of Trans Media&rsquo;s Watch&rsquo;s Memorandum of Understanding has the potential to dramatically improve the way transgender people are viewed and treated in this country.</p> <p class="displayarticle">It is of course not the policy of Government to tell the media what they should be doing, and how they should be doing it. Indeed, your very existence as a voice wholly independent of Government is totally fundamental to our existence as a free society.</p> <p class="displayarticle">But what I hope to do is encourage all of you to really consider your responsibility in pushing forward trans equality.</p> <p><strong>TRANS INEQUALITY</strong></p> <p class="displayarticle">We as a country pride ourselves on having successfully consigned the worst examples of discrimination to the past. And for the most part that is true. The days where we would see signs saying &lsquo;no blacks, no dogs, no Irish&rsquo;in the windows of pubs and B&amp;BS have thankfully disappeared.&nbsp;</p> <p class="displayarticle">But I believe &ndash; and I do not say this lightly &ndash; that for transgender people we have not been so successful. Everyday too many live with the reality and threat of prejudice, and sometimes even violence because of who they are.</p> <p class="displayarticle">I myself was shocked to discover 89% have been subject to physical assault. Here in 2011 that is a pretty alarming statistic.</p> <p class="displayarticle">While I cannot conclusively tell you why this is the case, I believe this treatment is caused by mass ignorance and a complete lack of understanding of gender identity issues.&nbsp;</p> <p class="displayarticle"><strong>GOVERNMENT COMMITMENT</strong></p> <p class="displayarticle">The Coalition Government is whole heartedly committed to tackling this, and ensuring transgender people are afforded the same opportunities, freedoms and rights as any other citizen.</p> <p class="displayarticle">Earlier today I announced the publication of our detailed action plan on LGB&amp;T equality, clearly setting out how we will, right across government tackle LGB&amp;T inequality.</p> <p class="displayarticle">In addition, later this year we will be publishing the first ever Government transgender action plan to address the specific issues faced by the transgender community &ndash; highlighting where distinct action is needed in addition to the measures outlined in the LGB&amp;T action plan.</p> <p class="displayarticle"><strong>ROLE MEDIA</strong></p> <p class="displayarticle">But we can&rsquo;t do this on our own. If we are to achieve truly transformative change, change that lasts, we need to change behaviour, and we need to open hearts and minds and improve understanding of a community which has been misunderstood and misrepresented for far too long.&nbsp;</p> <p class="displayarticle">And those of you who work in media can do this far better and far more effectively than us politicians can.</p> <p class="displayarticle">Because when you do it right, when transgender people are positively portrayed, whether it be on our television screens or in print, you not only improve visibility of this very small minority, you bring their personalities and the realities of their lives into millions of people&rsquo;s homes.</p> <p class="displayarticle">You transform them in the public&rsquo;s eyes from being &lsquo;transgender&rsquo; people into just people, ordinary human beings, wanting to play their part in society, deserving of the same rights and freedoms as anyone else.</p> <p class="displayarticle">And that really makes people, particularly young people, rethink and challenge their prejudices and old way of thinking.</p> <p class="displayarticle">And for transgender people &ndash; to see themselves portrayed positively, not as a problem, not as something to be laughed at or ridiculed, can make all the difference between an individual transitioning and be able to live their life openly or having to spend their life in fear hiding their true self completely.</p> <p><span class="displayarticle">It is no coincidence that 20% of respondents questioned in Transmedia Watch&rsquo;s survey reported having</span> received negative reactions at work which they could trace to an item in the media, and - shockingly &ndash; 12% reported negative reactions from service providers.</p> <p class="displayarticle">The bottom line is this: you are the vehicle through which knowledge and values are transmitted and accessed in society. And with that comes great, great responsibility to deliver diversity and equality in everything you do.</p> <p class="displayarticle"><strong>CONCLUDING REMARKS</strong></p> <p class="displayarticle">I hope each and every one of you here today as part of that responsibility will sign Trans Media Watch&rsquo;s Memorandum of Understanding.</p> <p class="displayarticle">The trans community are not asking you to compromise your competitiveness or audience figures. We have seen through programmes like Hollyoaks and Coronation Street how positive transgender characters, far from compromising audience figures, have actually brought them pouring in.</p> <p class="displayarticle">They are not asking you to create a shopping list or tick boxes of obligation.</p> <p class="displayarticle">This isn&rsquo;t about fulfilling quotas or political correctness. It&rsquo;s about artistic and creative integrity. It&rsquo;s about inspiring and educating people. It&rsquo;s actually about making better programmes which connect with all audiences.</p> <p class="displayarticle">All they are asking you to do is apply a set of simple considerations to the creative process which could help change the lives and futures of a community of people, and help make Britain a more tolerant and fair society.</p> <p class="displayarticle">Thank you.</p> <p class="displayarticle">&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> None http://www.equalities.gov.uk/ministers/speeches-1/trans_media_watch.aspx Lynne Featherstone MP Trans Media Watch Memorandum of Understanding Government Equalities Office Monday 14th March 2011 2011-03-14 00:00:00
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