The Great Debate UK

Battle for key professional roles ongoing for women



-Angela Eagle is Minister of State for Pensions and Ageing Society. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.-

International Women’s Day is still as relevant today as it was almost a century ago when it was first established. In Britain, when the suffragettes won the right to vote on equal terms with men in 1928, there was a feeling that there would be an inevitable journey towards full equality with men. But we now know that there are other battles that still need to be won.

Earlier this month, I attended a meeting of the European Women’s Forum in the Spanish city of Cadiz where leading female politicians met to evaluate the EU’s compliance of the Platform for Action approved at the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995. We concluded that there was still much work to be done in the fight against gender-based violence and the incorporation of women into key decision-making positions in business and politics.

While the UK is a country where women have made good progress in the path towards equality, there still needs to be structures put in place in society to fit in with the shape of women’s lives. For example, the labour market needs to properly recognise women’s duties as carers of children and older people. The gender pay gap which still exists in many places also has to be eliminated.