This year we commemorated the 100th anniversary of women first gaining the right to vote, but it is a sad fact that even in 2018, being female in much of the world is a serious disadvantage in society. In some places, repression and fewer rights than men are seen as the norm with progress being painfully slow. I am however proud that the UK does promote gender equality across the world and achieves much through foreign aid, for example in helping to make education available for more girls who would otherwise have access to none.
Thankfully, gender equality is of course much better in the UK than in much of the world but there are still issues to address. Sexually motivated and controlling violent crimes and harassment are disproportionately carried out by men against women. I welcome that the Conservatives in government have improved how the police, prosecutors and courts deal with crimes against women and girls. New laws have been introduced for offences that tackle domestic abuse, FGM, stalking, forced marriage and so called revenge porn. Prosecutions and convictions for violence against women and girls have risen by nearly two thirds over the past decade which is welcome, but there are still too many perpetrators not being convicted.
As well as in the criminal justice system, improvements for women in the workforce have been a strong personal commitment from Theresa May, despite the fact that her own workplace is one that feels increasingly hostile for any woman or man.
It is good to see that the female employment rate is at a near-record high and that the gender pay gap is at a record low. Large employers are now required to publish their pay data and it is worth noting that the National Living Wage has mostly benefitted women. Since 2015, over 13 million women have benefited from cuts in income tax.
There is more to do for a truly gender equal society, but the Conservatives are striving for a country where both men and women can go as far as their talents and hard work takes them.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
12th December 2018