Tuesday 27th November 2018
Palace of Westminster - Committee Room 16
Cllr Julie Iles National Chairman CWO (JI)
Helen Whately MP, Faversham & Mid West Kent, Vice Chair for Women
Kate Andrews - Associate Director IEA
Flick Drummond - Director - CPF
Clare Pelham - CEO Epilepsy Society
CWO Chairman Julie Iles opened the meeting and welcomed everyone introducing the panel by highlighting the impact of policy on women, as well as women's representation in Parliament. JI introduces the first speaker, Helen Whately.
Helen Whately MP
In order to win the next election we have to win women's vote. How do we go about winning women's votes is by getting more women standing for election; if there is a good time, it is now.
The question that needs to be asked is the tone and policy content right for the Party? The world is changing and more women than ever before are the bread-winners for their families, which is something that we need to reflect on in our policies: doing more work on the gender pay-gap. Clearly, as a Party we are currently not doing enough.
We should be shouting louder and work on getting women-orientated policies: swathes of policies with a stronger voice and visible campaigning.
I believe in equality as I am a Feminist. Good policies come from good campaigning and good engagement: currently there is little engagement.
The first part of good policy making is listening and the second step is engagement.
Create the need and supply the product for the need: there is nothing wrong with piloting, we are not the be all and end all; we should be the listening Party and also ask if anyone can do it better than us; ask for new suggestions and then go back and feed this to the policy-makers. We should be able to say we have consulted and engaged and drafted new policies which are made for women.
JI commented that current engagement with the Party Chair is great and we will continue to bring policies for women to the forefront.
Flick said that she as Director of the CPF she is trying to engage with more women in policy- making. Currently 250 groups are engaged with the CPF; the intention is to get to 400 groups, especially in marginal areas. We as a Party have got to be listening outside, discussing our policy 'language' in the manifesto. Labour Party has a chapter on women in their manifesto which is specifically relevant to women.
Quoting a few examples from the Labour Party where they have highlighted 50% women representation, as well as highlighting the gender audit. The Conservative manifesto talks about families, although not specifically women, it seems to be more male-orientated.
Messaging from Labour for women & policies is presented in their manifesto in a much more likeable way; we in CPF need to adjust our language and need to address much more engagement with & for women.
Policies should be relevant especially for small businesses, especially women-led start-ups (home based/small businesses), who may not necessarily be entrepreneurs in the first instance. We should as a party look at selling policies to women.
JI commented - Campaigning is more orientated towards men, which puts women off. Women do better in elections just by connecting with other women. 'Inside Her Pretty Little Head: A New Theory of Female Motivation and what it Means for Marketing' - Would recommend reading this book.
- Started by highlighting the Conservative Party positives.
- 2017 Statistics - 43% votes - Female votes
- Representation of women in Parliament - 45% - Labour; 21% Conservatives
- Fewer women come forward. We need to highlight the importance of organic movements like women2win to encourage women to consider coming into politics.
- The topic not tackled enough is how best to bring the cost of childcare down? comparing this with some of the other countries like Denmark.
- 41% higher pay-gap in flexi-working - women earn more
- Need to look at how the economy is impacted by the contribution of women keeping in mind childcare costs, flexi-working etc.
- Gender pay-gap reporting measures are not breaking statistics in a meaningful way.
- Quoted from International Development Secretary - Penny Mordaunt 'Helping women in poverty'. There needs to be a positive narrative for women and not a victimhood narrative.
Questions from Audience
1. We should be careful about patronizing women, women do more than 60% more unpaid work. Labour Party have a gender audit; what does the Conservative Party have?
Helen - Work in progress, social policy impact in gender is being looked at, working to make this more meaningful
Flick - No 10 has set a policy commission and working on this. Looking at older generation taking time off for partner to progress in career (flexible society), a societal change.
2. Retuning to work mothers are demotivated (Having tried finding a job after a gap of eight years due to family). How do we change policy, as skills haven't aged, need to get the employer to realise you are not worthless?
Clare - We need to consult on this and make meaningful policies for employers.
Do we get our son's ready to see the change in our society?
Flick - Train the men from beginning, getting them involved in CWO PF and CYW PF, this will be a door-opener.
3. We are concerned we are on a backfoot, cannot wait for new ideas to come through?
Clare - Paternity and maternity pay, Childcare - tackling regulations, NHS/IVF, young women - renting & owning homes are some of the areas which we need to look at carefully again.
4. Are we limiting ourselves by saying 50:50?
Flick - Legislation does not balance gender
Kate - Trajectory says in 30-40 years women's representation may be higher.
5. Gig economy is growing, want to employ more women in a gig/part-time capacity. Should the constitution embrace the gig economy?
Kate - the Party needs to do more to embrace the concept of the gig-economy, as the nature of employment is changing so that people understand flexibility in a work environment.
6. Targets make a huge difference #askhertostand has made a huge difference. How do we define Targets Vs. Quotas?
Emphasis should be on underlying issues rather than on fulfilling quotas.
JI concluded the meeting with the old adage 'There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women'.
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