Column: International Women's Day 2020

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 6th March:This Sunday is International Women’s Day.   Across the world the achievements of women will be celebrated.   Activists and members of the public will draw attention to the specific discriminations that women face due to gendered biases and call for equality.   I am proud to be Barnsley East’s first female Member of Parliament. An important part of my role is to encourage young women from our community to aspire to fulfil their potential.   From speaking to girls from Netherwood Academy, encouraging them to pursue their career goals, to pushing in Parliament for better support in the workplace for women who suffer from endometriosis, I will always champion the cause for women’s equality.   The Women and Equalities Select Committee, which I was a member of, held an inquiry that examined the representation of women in executive levels.   Less than 10% of FTSE 100 companies have a female CEO.  This is, quite frankly, shocking. Too few women are making it to senior management positions due to deeply rooted barriers.   Structural disadvantages from a lack of childcare, which forces some women to put their careers on hold to have a family, to the failure to encourage young women to pursue STEM subjects and careers exist in our society.   But in this new decade we can and should do more.   In Parliament, I will be pushing for legislation that will help close the gender pay and pain gaps as well as laws to stop partners who are convicted of the attempted murder of their spouses from claiming financial settlements in divorce proceedings.   As a community we can support our mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts by amplifying their voices when women are being ignored in meetings or conversations; supporting their ambitions; sharing the workload, including household chores; getting involved in community groups aimed at developing skills, including our fantastic Barnsley Brownies, who I recently had the pleasure of meeting; and pushing for women’s human rights to be acknowledged.   Barnsley has so many inspiring women and girls. It has been a privilege to meet so many of the women that contribute so much to our community.   This International Women’s Day I will be celebrating them. 

Pushing for investment in flood defences

Extreme weather events, like the floods that have caused such devastation in our area, will only increase due to climate change.Today, I pushed for long-term investment into flood defences and equal distribution of funding between the North and South to protect areas like ours.You can watch part of my comments in Parliament here.

Launch of the Great British Spring Clean 2020

I celebrated the launch of the Great British Spring Clean 2020 in Parliament with Orinoco from The Wombles.Together we can make a difference and Keep Britain Tidy.

Attending a Hope Not Hate reception

I was delighted to be at the Hope Not Hate reception to mark the launch of their State of the Hate report.I'm proud to be their new Parliamentary Chair.

Speaking to Dearne FM about Yorkshire Bank in Wombwell

I spoke to Dearne FM about the closure of the Yorkshire Bank Branch in Wombwell.I’m seeking a meeting with them to discuss it.Let me know if this issue impacts you.Listen to my comments on Dearne FM here.

Questioning the Government on Sir Philip Rutnam's resignation

The Government has serious questions to answer about the unprecedented resignation of a senior civil servant.I asked them to disclose the publicly financed figure of the financial settlement offered to Sir Philip Rutnam to secure his silence.Read more here.

Launch of Hope Not Hate's State of Hate report

I was proud to speak as the Parliamentary Chair of Hope not Hate at the launch of their report, The State of Hate 2020.The mainstreaming of far-right ideas threatens communities across the UK and must be challenged.   Click here to read more.

Transport survey

Our transport system here in Barnsley is in major need of improvement, from overcrowded trains to cancelled bus routes and damaged roads.I've created a transport survey so you can help identify and suggest improvements to make our trains, buses and roads better - you can fill this in here.

Meeting with Barnsey Hospital

It was good to meet with the Chair, CEO and Director of Communications at Barnsley Hospital recently.We discussed the work being done by our fantastic NHS staff here in Barnsley, and the broader challenges the NHS is facing, from the winter crisis, to shortages of beds and access to GP appointments.The Government must do more to support our health service and address those challenges, and I will continue to press for them to do just that.

Campaigning to save the Yorkshire Bank branch in Wombwell

It's incredibly disappointing that Yorkshire Bank will be closing its Wombwell branch in August.Local branches are so important for people in our community - I will be writing to Yorkshire Bank and will be seeking an urgent meeting with them to outline my opposition to this decision.Read more here.