Happy International Women’s Day! Today is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and the continuing fight for equality for women everywhere.  

Over the last year I’ve had the opportunity to get behind some great campaigns for gender equality. The highlight of these has been my amendment to the Finance Bill which would have forced an EU negotiation on the VAT rate charged on sanitary items, which has been dubbed the ‘Tampon Tax’.

It’s good to shine a light on the deep rooted injustice of gender pricing. I’m glad that the Chancellor has been forced to pledge to eventually abolish the tampon tax altogether, but in the meantime the £15m raised by the tax is to go to women’s services through breast cancer and domestic abuse charities -; services that ought not have been cut to begin with and should be funded by society as a whole, not paid for by women just because they have periods!

Tory austerity has made life harder for women all across the country -; it’s shocking that in 2016, women in the UK are more likely to work for less pay than men, in low paid jobs and be disproportionately affected by cuts to public services. Between 2010 and 2020, 81% of the savings made to the Treasury through tax and benefit changes will be paid for by women. The Government’s mismanagement of changes to the state pension age for women born in the 1950s is an injustice causing added financial worries for many already struggling to cope from week to week.

All of these things can be changed if women use their right to vote. Sadly, 34% of women did not vote in last year’s election. This year women should make sure their voices are heard in May’s local elections. Together we can make the Tories sit up and listen! Why not celebrate International Women’s Day by registering to vote? It only takes a few minutes at: gov.uk/register-to-vote

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