Friday, 4 November 2011

David Cameron 'in danger of neglecting women', warn Tory MPs

The Tory MPs have set up an informal group to act as a “sounding board” for the Prime Minister to help put a female slant on the Government’s policies.
The news has come after the head of the Women’s Institute told The Daily Telegraph last month that women were being ignored by the Coalition and suffering disproportionately under its policies.
A report backed by a 20-strong coalition of charities published yesterday accused Mr Cameron of launching “an unprecedented attack” on women.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who is in charge of equality policy, will today announce plans for 5,000 new women business “mentors”.
Mrs May will give a speech in which she will make clear how “women can play a central role in the recovery and a much bigger part in the economy in the future”.
She will announce plans to train relevant volunteers over the next three years to provide a variety of advice in a way best suited to women.
The new Conservative Women’s Forum comprises 37 of the 49 Tory female MPs, and met Mr Cameron in Downing Street this week.
They have signed an open letter which stresses that the Government is pro-women and could articulate its message better, in an attempt to help Downing Street emphasise the Coalition’s women-friendly policies.
Andrea Leadsom, a member of the group, said that she wanted to see women have more influence on government policies.
She said: “We have got to get the messaging right as well as the policies. Women do most of the caring, they tend to work part-time, earn less than men.
“He [the Prime Minister] has taken a keen interest and is aware of the need not just to get the policy right but to express that in a way that will relate to women.”
Harriett Baldwin MP, one of the group’s leaders, said: “The Government is doing so much that is positive that it is just a question of us articulating the narrative, and we think we have got a role to play in doing that.”
She said ministers could have emphasised further the increase in the number of rape crisis centres which have opened under the Coalition as part of a way to appeal to women.
She said that the row last year over Coalition plans to give anonymity to men charged with rape would never have happened if Mr Cameron had had more women advising him.
Other members of the forum include male Tory MPs such as Nick Boles and Matt Hancock.
Polls have shown that women voters are deserting the Tory party over the cuts, which campaigners say have a bigger impact on women.

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