Women and Work APPG takes Labour conference by storm

Women and Work APPG takes Labour conference by storm

“It’s not that women aren’t working, it’s that work isn’t working for women” or so claimed Angela Rayner when she spoke at the Women and Work APPG’s inaugural fringe event at Labour conference.


With standing room only and temperatures rising, the panel (consisting of Jess Phillips MP,  Angela Rayner MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities) Bex Bailey (former NEC Youth Rep) and Christine McGourty (Centrica’s Director of Corporate Affairs) was one of the few all-women panels at Labour conference.


This was starkly contrasted to the other fringes that I attended, with one female speaker at a different fringe stating that she had probably just been invited to speak “as one of the few women in my sector”. Despite this, it felt as if there was a distinct appetite for change at conference with cheers for Angela and Jess when Angela said that “we’ve not been here long but we’re quite gobby”.


All those that attended our fringe were united against the campaign of abuse that has been targeting women and politicians on social media, with former NEC youth rep Bex Bailey arguing that the culture needs to change to enable more women to have the confidence to go into politics. She admitted that “we have sexism and sexual harassment in Labour” but argued that the party cannot lose sight of the fact that “we are the party of equality”.


It was also recognised that female politicians are often portrayed as mothers and wives in the media, with tabloids that are more interested in the shoes that they choose to wear than the policies that they promote. This needs to stop, as what happens in politics is mirrored in workplaces across the country.


Like the divisions in the Labour party, it was impossible to ignore Brexit at conference this year and sure enough, those who attended the Women and Work Fringe were keen to highlight that leaving the European Union must not negatively impact on the rights of women in the workplace. Co- Chair of the APPG, Jess Phillips, highlighted how important it will be to protect the equality rights that have come from the European Union and ensure that Brexit does not lead to increased inequality.


Closing the Fringe, there was a sense that things are beginning to change but that more needs to be done. Angela Rayner spoke in favour of hard targets, defiantly stating that “I am not waiting 200 years for change”. Let’s hope we don’t have to.


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