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.