Jo urges gender pay gap efforts on International Women’s Day

Currently only 20% of MPs are women

Jo Swinson has marked International Women’s Day on 8th March with a call for greater efforts to close the gender pay gap.

Jo addressed the issue of pay inequality during a wide-ranging House of Commons debate on International Women’s Day. Speaking in the debate, she said:

“It is simply shocking that, more than 30 years after the equal pay and the sex discrimination legislation, we still have a significant pay gap between men and women-17 per cent. of the mean average for full-time workers and as high as 35 per cent. among part-time workers.

“The current mechanism to deal with equal pay claims is not working. In the year to 1 April 2007, some 130,000 claims were made under the legislation. Before it was wound up, the Equal Opportunities Commission pointed out the great problems that it had and the time taken for cases to be heard, an understandable delay given their volume. Effectively, the legislation is not managing to tackle the issue.”

Last August, a report on equality by the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee warned that the gender pay gap could take another 78 years to close at the current rate of progress.

During her speech, Jo also called for a cross-party initiative to improve women’s representation in Parliament. Women currently make up 20% of MPs in the House of Commons. Speaking in Parliament, she said:

“We have made a lot of progress, but there is still so much more to do. There is a feeling out there that this place is an old boys’ club that is full of sexism and that the job is really difficult for women, but a lot of that is not true. Women Members in all parts of the House will say that being an MP is a wonderful job and very suited to the skill sets of women.

“I sometimes think that we need to make that case more strongly. In December I had an exchange with the Minister for Women and Equality in which I made that suggestion, following it up with a letter to ask whether she thought that a cross-party initiative would be a good idea. However, rather than having the right hon. and learned Lady or the Minister meet just me, I would hope that we could involve Conservative Members and launch a cross-party initiative looking at how, collectively, we can sell the job of being a Member of Parliament and ensure that we get the message out there and in the media that this is a very job enjoyable to do.”

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