Emma’s speech to WHiST on International Women’s Day

March 12, 2014

022_140307_WHiST_ConferenceOn Friday Emma spoke at the Women’s Health in South Tyneside (WHiST) International Women’s Day Conference.  The event, which was attended by over 60 local women, had been organized to celebrate the achievements of women in South Tyneside and to provide an opportunity to discuss the issues that are important to women.

Emma told the audience about her journey to becoming a Member of Parliament and shared the challenges she faced as both a woman and as someone from a working class background.  She said “I am not part of the political classes, I grew up in a proud working-class household. I always knew that I wanted to be in a job where I could make a big difference for the people and the place I was born.  It is the inequality and the inherent unfairness that existed in our country then and still exists now that drove me to politics”.  Emma is only too well aware that despite the progress made by the Labour Party in increasing the number of female MPs, women are still very much in the minority in Parliament.  Whilst this can be off-putting at times, knowing that she has the support of her constituents makes her proud to have the opportunity to speak in the chamber and fight for a fairer society.

The event provided an ideal opportunity for Emma to chat with the women present and hear from them about the issues they care about and the barriers they face.  They spoke to Emma about the damaging effect that Coalition policies are having on them and their families, cuts to welfare, public services, the proliferation of zero hours contracts and insufficient childcare leave women disproportionately affected.

Labour has already promised that if elected in 2015 it will extend free childcare to help working mothers, and ban the exploitation of zero-hours contracts.  Labour would also appoint a national Commissioner for Domestic Violence and Abuse to help address violence against women.

During the event a questionnaire was circulated to capture the women’s views on a range of issues.   Emma told those present that she would ensure that the information generated from the questionnaires would be collated as part of Labour’s ‘What Women Want’ campaign to be presented to members of the Shadow Cabinet and used to inform future policy.

In the course of the conference Emma was delighted to present over 20 of the local women involved in WHiST with certificates for a variety of courses they had successfully completed through the Open College.

If you would like to read Emma’s full speech at the event you can do so below.

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