Jeremy Corbyn calls for all-female shortlists to create equal Commons

Placing women’s issues at the heart of his leadership campaign, leader also commits to regular gender audit of Labour policies

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has called for all-female shortlists to achieve equal representation in parliament and wants to aim for the same in public offices, as part of a series of wide-ranging measures to address the under-representation of women in public life.

Placing women’s issues firmly at the heart of his leadership campaign, Corbyn committed to a regular gender audit of Labour policies to ensure the party is engaged in moving towards gender equality in society.

Launching a document titled “Equality for Women”, Corbyn said the political atmosphere had changed since his election as Labour leader. Addressing an all-female audience of about 60 Labour members at the London headquarters of the trade union Unison, which is backing him in the leadership contest, he told them: “This genie is not going back in any bottle.”

Corbyn outlined his support for a policymaking annual Labour women’s conference and committed to consult on establishing a high-level strategic women’s advisory board, linked to the Labour leader’s office, to ensure women are at the heart of the party’s policies.

Repeating the mantra that austerity was not working, and that it had disproportionately harmed women, he said that under his leadership Labour’s public investment strategy would provide the foundation for an economy that delivers for women.

Labour would increase recruitment of women in science, technology, engineering and manufacturing occupations, and give enhanced powers to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to penalise companies that do not publish detailed gender pay data.

In the document, he also pledged a wide-ranging consultation on strengthening the law and its implementation on sexual violence, sexual harassment and online abuse

“We will never be a successful society in which everybody is able to achieve their potential until there is equality for women,” he said. “The waste that is brought about in our society by discrimination and poverty is absolutely huge. We are all the poorer.”

Labour would “break down occupation segregation”, he said, adding: “By ending austerity and by delivering these policies we can help to develop a society in the future where there is not the levels of discrimination there are at the moment.”

On the question of combating sexual violence, including rape, against women, he called for sex and relationship counselling for children in all schools to change attitudes in society.

When asked how he intended to win over any alienated female Labour MPs, he said: “I will send them all copies of the policies that we have put forward including this document we are putting forward this evening and try and show to them that we are serious about developing policies, we are serious about the inclusion of everyone within the Labour party and the Labour movement in this whole project because that is the only way in which we can successfully take on the Tories in a general election.”

Corbyn said he would consult widely – within the Labour party, with trade unions, with campaign groups – about how to set up the women’s advisory group, adding: “It won’t be a quick and easy process.”

“This is a serious attempt to change the way policy making is done,” he said.


Caroline Davies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Owen Smith to pledge equal representation of women in Labour
Corbyn challenger to promise all female shortlists in target seats until half of Labour MPs are women, in commitment to gender equality

Rowena Mason, Holly Watt and David Pegg

23, Jul, 2016 @5:48 AM

Article image
Yvette Cooper hits out at 'startlingly retro' Labour leadership campaign
Contender for party leadership tells Guardian the campaign risks taking Labour back to 1950s, with women treated as incapable of top jobs

Patrick Wintour Political editor

24, Jul, 2015 @6:32 PM

Article image
Female Labour MPs call on Jeremy Corbyn to act over 'escalating abuse'
Open letter signed by 44 MPs condemns leader for what they say has been an inadequate response to threats

Peter Walker Political correspondent

22, Jul, 2016 @5:07 PM

Article image
Jeremy Corbyn faces backlash over women-only train carriages idea
Labour leadership rivals Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall condemn proposal as an admission of defeat in fight for women’s safety

Andrew Sparrow Political correspondent

26, Aug, 2015 @1:12 PM

Article image
Yvette Cooper calls truce with Andy Burnham over 'Ed Balls playbook' slur
Labour leadership candidate seeks to end row with rival campaign, but says she will not tolerate ‘sexist’ claims that her tactics are being led by her husband

Rowena Mason Political correspondent

18, Aug, 2015 @7:05 PM

Article image
Jeremy Corbyn accused of backing 'brothers in arms' over women
Labour MP Jess Phillips criticises leader after male candidates were selected for all three of next year’s mayoral elections

Heather Stewart Political editor

11, Aug, 2016 @12:01 PM

Article image
Gender and unity in the labour movement | Letters
Letters: It is hard for Jeremy Corbyn to respond to requests to promote more women, given that generation of female MPs came into the party as Blairites rather than traditional Labour reps


16, Sep, 2015 @5:57 PM

Article image
‘It’s rife’: female MPs tell of climate of misogyny in Westminster
After two cases of misogynistic behaviour in a week, Harriet Harman says there will be ‘no hiding place’ for sexism in Commons

Emily Dugan

29, Apr, 2022 @5:34 PM

Article image
Andy Burnham accused of sexism after 5 Live’s Labour leadership hustings
Supporters of rival Yvette Cooper ask whether Burnham was suggesting the party is not ready for a female leader

Rowena Mason and Frances Perraudin

25, Aug, 2015 @5:37 PM

Article image
Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith promise to have woman at top of Labour
Both leadership contenders would change rules to ensure female leader or deputy, and make boundary change guarantee

Rajeev Syal

22, Aug, 2016 @6:49 AM