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International Women's Day

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:41 pm on 11th March 2010.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Minister (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 1:41 pm, 11th March 2010

The Leader of the House may say that, but we are not able to have a full debate exploring issues such as forced marriage and female genital mutilation. Neither can we debate the Conservatives' flexible parental leave proposals, which would give much greater flexibility to parents in dealing with bringing up their children than would the Labour party's proposals. Our intention to extend to the parents of children up to the age of 18 the right to request flexible working would be an important move, as would our proposals to tighten up legislation on the gender pay gap, and other proposals that I mentioned, such as having greater provision of careers advice for young women.

I conclude by picking up a comment that the Leader of the House made about the work that the Government have done on removing inequality. The National Equality Panel, which was set up by this Government, reported in January and has shown that inequality is higher now than at any time since the second world war. That is not a record of which any Government could be proud and it certainly is not a record of which this Labour Government should be proud. They have decreased social mobility and have presided over a period of increased inequality. The Conservative party is committed to increasing women's representation in the House so that women can take their full part in the life of the Government, this Parliament and public life generally.