My response to the Fair Play South West Women’s Rights Manifesto

by patrickkeating on 21 November, 2019

It is unacceptable that, in the 21stcentury, people are still discriminated against on the basis of their gender, race, age, sexuality, gender identity, religion or disability. Liberal Democrats believe that everyone’s rights and liberties should be protected, and our diversity celebrated. 

A Liberal Democrat government will build a free society where every person’s rights and liberties are respected.

The UK needs more women in Parliament to successfully address the issues that face contemporary society, including those of inequality. While half of Lib Dem MPs were women in the last Parliament, less than a third of the MPs that sat in that Parliament were women – and as a result our country is lagging behind when it comes to legislation that makes a difference to women – whether that is women’s rights in the workplace, support for survivors of sexual assaults and even the cost of a razor. 

We are committed to requiring diversity in public appointments and government procurement, including at senior level. We are also committed to ensuring free, comprehensive unconscious bias training toolkits and the provision of unconscious bias training a condition of the receipt of public funds.  

Liberal Democrats will always prioritise action to end violence against women and girls. Liberal Democrat Wera Hobhouse’s landmark Private Members Bill made ‘upskirting’ a crime earlier this year. This was a significant progressive policy development which we are immensely proud of. Liberal Democrats will work to prevent violence against women and girls and support survivors by ratifying and bringing into force the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. We will legislate for a statutory definition of domestic abuse that includes the traumatic effects on children who witness it at home. We will expand the number of refuges and rape crisis centres. We will give local authorities the duty and funding to provide accommodation for survivors of abuse. A Liberal Democrat government will also establish a national rape crisis helpline.  

Liberal Democrats are committed to investing in a national network of women’s centres: one-stop-shops providing services and support for women in or at risk of entering the criminal justice system. We are also committed to ensuring that all prison-leavers have suitable accommodation, a bank account and employment or training, and are registered with a local GP. These policies will help reduce the number of women unnecessarily in prison, help them to turn their lives around, and build safer communities with less crime.

Liberal Democrats strongly support the Equality Act, At our 2019 autumn conference, we committed to call on all political parties to implement Section 106 of the Equality Act 2010, publishing their candidate diversity data; and for parental and carer leave entitlements for parliamentarians and councillors to be strengthened with provisions to be made to ensure constituents continue to be represented during these periods of leave.

A Liberal Democrat government will implement our vision for a brighter future, with equality at the heart of government.

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