Saturday, September 21, 2013

Day 1 notes - women's conference

**These are very rough notes shared for the benefit of my Constituency Labour Party and anyone else interested. If anything is wrong or information is missing, please leave a comment**

Women's conference - I got there in the afternoon, just in time for a workshop: families under pressure.

Sharon Hodgson MP: 
Costs of childcare estimated to have risen 20% since election.
500 fewer Surestart centres nationally

Labour actions: childcare commission led by Steven Twigg. Ideas are coming directly from it and leading in to policies - encouraged members to feed in to it.

Lucy Powell MP
We can reduce inequality by ensuring strong care in the earliest years.
We have to make childcare a central argument for getting the economy working again - business case.  The majority of women who don't return to work after maternity leave take a pay-cut for the rest of their lives. We need a parent-centred, flexible approach if parents are going to be able to return straight back.

Sharon Redsull Action for Children - parents champion volunteer, helps to welcome parents, help them access services and helps in the office. She was able to access childcare while she studies for an NVQ. Really positive programme for boosting her own confidence and helping local families.

Carol Edmonds Bright Horizons
Families are increasingly under pressure to fit in childcare and work
- care must remain top of the political agenda
- care responsibilities often include elderly care and vulnerable adults
- we need a workforce that can support all the different kinds of care needed in society.
If organisations create the conditions for people to care it has a huge impact on how they perform.
Employers need to embrace a range of policies and practices: flexible hours, recognition we don't live in a 9 to 5 society, access to different types of care, tax breaks.
Current state funding is difficult to administer and doesn't always suit families' needs.

- issue: gap in provision for breastfeeding mothers, employers have to take them back but not necessarily allow proper conditions
>> working mums are highly organised and should be recognised for being productive employees
- Andy Burnham is bringing together thinking about elderly care, how will all this fit together?

Tail end of violence workshop
Dealing with domestic violence cost £15 billion in 2009.

Final session: advice for women in the party and election candidates

Kirsty McNeill
Get a gang
Politics is a team sport.
Join networks: Women's Network and any other relevant networks, your trade union Get yourself in people's faces
People get on panels because they ask to go on. Ask. People will think you're pushy? Yes. But they will give you stuff.
Turn up and be seen, build your network from the ground

Get in the ring Politics is a competitive sport. If you want a job you have to apply. If you want a seat you have to run. Apply for everything that has your name on it. Get your name on open shortlists, not just women's one. Go to Labour Women's training.

Equality isn't impossible in our party, but it isn't inevitable either. We have to fight for it.

Josie [didn't catch surname]
Plan. Elections take a lot of time and, still, money. Changing this will help more women to stand but at the moment it is still the case. The further ahead you can plan, the better.
Training will also help you to build a support network for when the selection process gets tough.
Plan your literature to frame your strengths in the best light.
The best campaigns boil down to meeting people with a cup of tea. As a candidate that's what you'll be doing so the earlier you start the better.
Hopes we'll see a lot more women putting themselves forward. We need women to stand up for other women in our country.

Quote from Julia Gillard when she lost the election: "What I am absolutely certain of is it will be easier for the woman after me, and the woman after that"

Support women to stand in open shortlists, even if you're not standing yourself.
We need more women to give members a choice.
Some of the old Labour seats are very resistant to women; Lucy Powell was first female MP ever to represent Manchester Keep supporting your young women to get involved.
Grassroots movement in Wales called Charter for Women (have copy). They are looking for local ambasadors.
More women should blog - Scarlet Standard takes guest posts
Be brave, be bold

Closing: Harriet Harman
Today has possibly been the biggest political meeting of women ever We are a party that believes in equality, fairness and socal justice - this is our ideology. As women in the Labour party, we have the responsbility to speak up for women in our democracy and within the Labour party. We have to work in partnership with clleagues who are men, but need to lead the movement ourselves.
Women are still unequal on pay, power, work, home. We have more women MPs than all the other parties put together, but still outnumbered by men. Only 13% of Labour council leaders are women. Women in the party are all still pioneers, politics is still mostly dominated by men. We have to assert our right to argue for further action. We have to be teamly, but keep battling. We have to not be afraid of controversy. The woman arguing for advancement may not be the most popular, but if you're not having a row, you're probably not doing enough!
For women who feel on their own, we are all in solidarity with you. We need to support other women going forward for council, MPs, other leadership positions. It is difficult to be the subect of criticism because you're in those roles. We should judge ourselves not by the positions we achieve, but what we do for other women.

Argue against the idea that there is some sort of hierachy of inequality: there is no competition, we're against them all - they must not be set one against the other. We'll need a very strong manifesto for women, not just to get women's votes but to deliver for them. Example: childcare, public policy for a new generation of older women - not pretending to be younger, but not old and frail.

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