Yesterday (3rd July 2019), the UK Government released an extensive plan to tackle the numerous barriers women face from education to retirement.
Entitled Gender equality: a roadmap for change, this report is intended to ensure “everyone in the UK can reach their full potential” in the words of the Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny Mordaunt. This roadmap declares that gender equality is “firmly in the national interest” of the UK and must be “at the top of the agenda”.
In this document, the UK Government expresses a vision to rectify eight key issues that significantly impact females:
- Limiting attitudes towards gender
- Lack of progression in the workplace due to gender discrimination
- Failure of the benefits system to adequately assist disadvantaged women and carers
- Inflexible working schedules which can hinder women’s role as mothers
- The unpaid and informal care women provide outside their careers
- Lack of support and training for females who return to work after caring for others
- Financial instability and structural inequalities within the labour market
- Lack of a legislative framework to sustain gender equality
This push towards greater equality is particularly significant following the recent controversy regarding maternity leave in the UK parliament.
It was uncovered in June that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) did not automatically recruit paid cover if a MP chose to take parental leave.
This left many female MPs divided between their personal and professional lives.
In June 2019, Labour MP Stella Creasy commented that MPs must either “hide from their constituents to spend time with their newborn baby” or “beg their colleagues to fill the gaps”.
Similarly, her colleague, Tulip Saddiq, a Labour MP, had to take her baby to meetings as Saddiq’s request for extra funding to cover maternity leave was denied by Ipsa.
An official spokesperson for the Prime Minister commented that Mrs. May signalled her support towards calls for parliament to consider maternity leave and urged Ipsa to look closely into the issues raised by Creasy.
Sandra Green, founder of the Women’s Leaders Association, commented:
This is an excellent trailblazing roadmap suggesting many solutions to gender equality problems in Britain today. If we are to see everyone reaching their full potential as the government wants to see, then much more must be done in workplace cultures. We must develop leadership role models who value relationships and potential as much as focus on gender pay gap policies and flexible working practices.