Liberal Democrats

F4: Continuing the fight for gender equality

11 members

Mover: Wera Hobhouse MP (Spokesperson for the Environment and Climate Change).

Summation: Christine Jardine MP (Spokesperson for Work and Pensions).

Conference notes that:

  1. In the UK in 2016, items marketed specifically at women were 37 per cent more expensive on average than those marketed at men.
  2. Approximately 40 per cent of girls in the UK have used toilet roll because they couldn't afford sanitary products.
  3. In Wales Liberal Democrat Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, this year announced a scheme to provide sanitary products to girls across primary and secondary schools and colleges.
  4. Tampons and towels are currently taxed as a non-essential item, with the rate set at five per cent in the UK.
  5. 2019 figures show that the median pay gap this year was 11.9 per cent.
  6. Survivors of sexual assault are being turned away from accessing vital support services; the Istanbul Convention says there should be at least 150 Rape Crisis Centres in England and Wales, but currently there are only 44; Campaigner Fern Champion's petition on the issue has over 150,000 signatures.
  7. Overall just 32 per cent of MPs are women and there are significant variations between parties.
  8. The impact of inequality, prejudice, and discrimination is multiplied for women who are disabled, BAME, LGBT+, or from other disadvantaged backgrounds or groups.
  9. Jo Swinson fought to introduce gender pay gap reporting for large companies when she was a Minister in the Coalition Government; Liberal Democrats were the first party to lay a Parliamentary motion on the issue of period poverty and Layla Moran's 2019 motion has garnered cross-party support; Christine Jardine's Gender-based Pricing (Prohibition) Bill aimed to combat the price gap, but the Conservative Government did not give the Bill their backing; Wera Hobhouse's motion urging the government to bring the Istanbul Convention into UK law has broad cross-party support.

Conference believes that:

  1. The gender price gap contributes to a 'double whammy' when partnered with the gender pay gap that women continue to face.
  2. Menstrual hygiene should be considered a human right.
  3. The government is neglecting people across this country by failing to guarantee the right to justice and support for survivors of sexual assault.
  4. The UK needs more women in Parliament to successfully address the issues that face contemporary society, including those of inequality.

Conference reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to:

  1. Extending the Equality Act to all companies with over 250 employees or those who receive public funds, requiring them to monitor and publish data on diversity employment levels and pay gaps.
  2. Requiring diversity in public appointments and government procurement, including at senior level.
  3. Ensuring all women have access to affordable, good-quality sexual and reproductive health care and services, including by doing all we can to support the people of Northern Ireland to have access to abortion facilities at home.

Conference calls for:

  1. The UK government, and those of all other EU member states, to ratify and bring into law the Istanbul Convention.
  2. The government to roll out free sanitary products to schools, hospitals, hostels, shelters, libraries, leisure centres, GP surgeries, food banks, colleges and universities.
  3. The government to work within the EU to remove the VAT on sanitary products across all Member States, including the UK.
  4. The government introduce legislation to scrap the gender price gap on all products.
  5. The government to require large companies to publicly publish their parental leave policies, including information regarding funding, to extend shared parental leave to self-employed fathers, ensure shared parental leave is a day one right, and give fathers an additional four weeks of use-it-or-lose-it paternity leave.
  6. The Liberal Democrats, and all political parties, to implement Section 106 of the Equality Act 2010, publishing their candidate diversity data; and for parental and carer leave entitlements for parliamentarians and councillors to be strengthened with provisions to be made to ensure constituents continue to be represented during these periods of leave.

Applicability: Federal; except 2. (lines 59-61) which is England only.

Mover: 7 minutes; summation of motion and movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes. For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 4.

The deadline for amendments to this motion - see page 6 - and for requests for separate votes - see page 3 - is 13.00 Monday 2 September. Those selected for debate will be printed in Conference Extra and Saturday's Conference Daily.

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