The Government has been making a concerted effort to help women into employment and address pay related gender inequality and my parliamentary colleague Caroline Dinenage wrote to me recently providing an update about this.
Since 2010 there has been an increase of 711,000 more women in work. This means that as many as 20% of women now run small and medium sized enterprises. Undoubtedly they will have been encouraged by the Government’s introduction of single tier pensions so that 650,000 women will get an extra £400 a year from 2016 and shared parental leave which is being brought in in 2015. Likewise, from autumn 2015, almost 2m families should be able to benefit from the new tax-free childcare scheme which the Government is launching and is worth up to £2,000 per child. I understand that the gender pay gap for full time employees for under the 40’s has been removed and the Government is continuing to work on the gender gap for those over 40. I think it is very important that women are supported back into work and I back the Government’s thinking on extending the right to request flexible working for all.
I am very glad to hear that work has been done to ensure that women can expect to feel protected at home too. The introduction of Clare’s Law means that women are now able to check if their partners have a violent history. Violence Protection Orders which were brought in back in March allow domestic violence victims immediate protection from a perpetrator following a domestic violence incident and this ties in with the Government’s work on the “This is Abuse” campaign which is aimed at stopping teenagers between the ages of 13 to 18 from becoming either a victim or perpetrator of an abusive relationship. The Government’s pledge to reduce Female Genital Mutilation by 30% in 10 countries by 2018 is a further example of the efforts being made to ensure women are being looked after and respected. Back in June I attended the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict which did a huge amount to raise awareness about this issue and focused on the preservation of women’s rights.
I think the Government has been making great strides in ensuring women are better looked after whether it be at home or at work. Whilst there is always more that can be done in terms of readdressing gender pay inequality for over 40s in the work place or curbing genital mutilation and sexual violence against women, the Government is certainly heading in the right direction. I look forward to seeing how its work further progresses.