Women’S Suffrage Centenary

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:14 pm on 6th February 2018.

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Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities 1:14 pm, 6th February 2018

I am afraid it is true. I do not want to get into, “Our one’s bigger than your one,” but Labour has more female MPs than all the political parties put together. This Government talk about their commitment to equality, but in reality, the only thing they are committed to is making announcements without action.

It is true that the entire process of the grants has been shambolic. The Government announced a women’s centenary fund. They took nine months to officially launch it and gave women’s groups just four days to submit an online application for funding if they wanted to be in time to celebrate today’s date. The Government talk about their commitment to equality, but as I said, they are just making another announcement.

This was supposed to be a momentous opportunity for the country to come together and celebrate the achievements made over the last 100 years of some women gaining the vote, but instead, the Government have outsourced yet another contract that has fallen woefully short of achieving its intended purpose. Labour will be pressing the Government for answers on the allocation of these funds. I am glad that the Minister gave some details today about where the funds have gone, but only 4% of them have been allocated.

This year must be the year that women’s voices are fully heard in politics. This year, the Labour party will be celebrating the centenary for the whole year. I am really pleased that the House authorities have named the exhibition in the Houses of Parliament after me—“New Dawn”—so my name will live forever in this place.

I urge—[Interruption.] I urge the Minister and all the Members heckling me from a sedentary position to take a moment on this day and in this year, marking the centenary and the 10 years until all women received the right to vote, to take a moment to think about the Government’s policies and the damage they are doing to women, with 86% of the cuts falling on the shoulders of women. Please take a moment to think about the structural barriers and the privilege that we have to undo. Please take that moment in this year.