Boris Johnson 'failing to listen to women' risking 1970s inequality for millions, top MP warns

BORIS Johnson is failing to listen to top women in his Cabinet leaving millions at risk of 1970s levels of inequality, a top committee chair warns today.

Ex-minister Caroline Nokes blasted the Government for reinforcing "horrific" stereotypes about women and by focusing the economic recovery only on "shovel ready" projects in male-dominated fields.

She took aim at the PM for having "dropped the ball" on helping hard-working mums during the pandemic – and attacked the nation's bounce-back agenda as being "designed by men for men."

Ms Nokes told The Sun ministers Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch were too busy signing trade deals and helping run the Treasury, putting women and equality issues on the back foot.

She said the pandemic had laid bare the burden placed on women – many of whom have done the most looking after children and family, home-schooling as well as balancing their own jobs.

Last month a Covid advert featuring pictures of women mopping and taking care of kids while a man watched TV had to be removed after a furious backlash.

Ms Nokes said the "horrific" and "thoughtless" ad was "reinforcing stereotypes" and pointed the finger at the PM's male-dominated Government.


She said last night: "When the PM was in hospital, the quad, was all men.

"There are real challenges around females not being heard in the decision making process.

"I don't think they're being listened to at all – it's only about men.

"I still don't get a sense of a real determination to make sure that female voices are not just not just heard, but are understood.

"That's the real evidence of the government just having dropped the ball on this."

She called for a dedicated Secretary of State to put women at the centre of Government, and demanded Rishi Sunak set quotas for getting women back into the workplace as part of his Covid recovery schemes.

She went on: "It's really important to acknowledge the role that mothers have played, and I will be quite specific there, because we know that they've done the most.

"We need to have practical policies put in place to make sure that we don't see employment slipping back into something from another century."

The committee also called on ministers to bring forward new laws to extend and strengthen redundancy protection and sick pay for pregnant women and new mothers.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, agreed with the report's findings, and added: “If we further develop the new ways of working that everyone has adjusted to during the pandemic, including building more flexible working options for employees, there is a real opportunity to increase the diversity of our workforce.

"This will not only help businesses by harnessing a range of talents, but also help reduce some of the inequality that exists in our society.”

A Government spokesperson said last night of the report: "Throughout the pandemic this government has done whatever it takes to protect lives and livelihoods, and will continue to do so.

"We are safeguarding people’s jobs and incomes with economic schemes worth over £200 billion, including the Self Employment Income Scheme for the 1.7 million self-employed women in the UK.

"COVID-19 is prompting a culture shift with more people than ever before working flexibly, and the Government wants to harness that as we recover.

"By doing so, we could see more equal sharing of care work by parents, and more flexibility from employers, enabling us to unleash the potential of everyone across the country."

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