International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on the progress made on gender equality and to celebrate the acts of courage and determination by ordinary women at home and across the world.
I am proud to be standing in solidarity with women and girls around the world who endure inequality and injustice and the women who have achieved extraordinary things for their communities.
Whilst considerable progress has been made on gender equality with women increasingly enjoying the same rights and opportunities as men, in many countries women are still treated as second class citizens. In some places women and girls are denied access to education, property, voting rights, employment, their own bank account. Many still live in poverty and fear, under the threat of violence and rape.
Here in Britain, women are paid less than men (82p to a man’s pound), are significantly underrepresented in boardrooms and other senior positions – just 29% of our MPs are female, and many continue to endure the threat of violence and harassment from men.
There is a lot more we can all do to break down the barriers to success for women and to build an equal society where opportunities and security are not governed by gender.
This week in Redcar & Cleveland we have the brilliant Inspiring Women project with a whole range of activities, led by the RAF, which I hope will inspire young people in our borough to challenge these barriers and aim high in their own education and future careers. I am particularly looking forward to being shadowed by local student Lucy on Friday to show her my job as a Member of Parliament.
The theme of this year’s IWD is gender parity and I proudly pledge to do all I can in my role as an MP to break down the barriers holding women and girls back from achieving their potential and pursuing their ambitions. I urge you all to take a moment to think about how you can do the same.
Happy International Women's Day!