Improving the lives of women and girls | Letter

Signatories including Pragna Patel and Mary-Ann Stephenson are fighting for equality and women’s human rights, and are calling on candidates from across the political spectrum to adopt policies to redress any imbalances

This election falls between the 101st anniversary of some women winning the right to stand for parliament and the 50th anniversary of the landmark Equal Pay Act. Yet in the outgoing parliament just a third of MPs were women – 4% were black and minority ethnic women.

Meanwhile, it will take another 60 years to achieve pay equality for white women, and longer for BME and disabled women.

This election season, we are reminded of how far we have come and how far we have to go. Women MPs are leaving politics at an alarming rate too, many because of online abuse. With fewer women in positions of power, issues that disproportionately affect women are at risk of being drowned out.

The next government must address these issues, which include unacceptably low rates of rape convictions, and the sharp increase in food bank use. Ministers must acknowledge that women are still taking up the majority of unpaid care work and make up the majority of homeless people, single parents living in poverty and victims/survivors of domestic abuse. For many black, minority ethnic and migrant women, basic rights to maternity care and safe housing remain out of reach and discrimination remains high.

That’s why this week we have launched a Manifesto for Women and Girls supported by 29 women and human rights organisations up and down the country. Because we know it doesn’t have to be this way.

The policies contained in these pages are more than just words on a page: they are the evidence-based approach to building a society where all women, including those further marginalised by race, ethnicity, disability and other characteristics, have access to safety, equality, representation and justice.

This election we’re passing on all our years of experience. We’re calling on women and allies everywhere to hold their representatives to account on the decisions that matter most.
Frances Scott 50:50 Parliament
Jacqui Hunt Equality Now
Seyi Akiwowo Glitch
Rosa Heimer Latin American Women’s Aid
Ros Bragg Maternity Action
Karen Ingala Smith NIA
Eleanor Lisney Sisters of Frida
Nicola Sharp Surviving Economic Abuse
Helen Pankhurst The Centenary Action Group
Sarah Green The End Violence Against Women Coalition
Sam Smethers The Fawcett Society
Kate Paradine Women in Prison
Mary-Ann Stephenson The Women’s Budget Group
Vivenne Hayes The Women’s Resource Centre
Adina Claire Women’s Aid Federation of England
Sophie Walker The Young Women’s Trust
Baljit Banga Imkaan
Jemima Olchawski Agenda
Pragna Patel Southall Black Sisters

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