Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt announced today a fundamental shift in focus for the Government Equalities Office (GEO) to include putting marginalised women at the heart of its work on gender.

In a speech today at Bright Blue’s Women in Work conference Ms Mordaunt set out that the GEO has made significant progress in working towards closing the gender pay gap, getting women into work and being a driving force behind getting more women on boards in top companies, but that often low-paid, low-skilled women were left out of the conversation.

Ms. Mordaunt highlighted that today in the UK

  • Around 1.8 million women are currently economically inactive because they are caring for their home or family, more than 8 times the number of men in that position
  • Women are disproportionately more likely to work in caring, customer service and cleaning roles, which tend to be less well paid, and three times more likely than men to work part-time
  • Nine out of 10 potential returners to work in the UK are women. Nearly a third of all those women who could potentially return to work have GCSEs as their highest qualification, and 16% have no qualifications at all
  • White women have an employment rate of 73.3%, and women of Bangladeshi ethnicity have an employment rate of 32.8%
  • The gender pay gap increases from over 6% for those in their twenties, to around 23% for those in their forties. McKinsey estimate that bridging gender gaps in work could add £150 billion to the UK economy by 2025

The shift in focus on gender is part of the drive to put equalities at the heart of the government’s work to tackle ‘burning injustices’, which will see it move to a permanent home in the Cabinet Office, from 1 April 2019.

Ms. Mordaunt stated –

“It will be our mission to ensure that every woman in the UK has as much freedom, choice, capacity, resilience, support and protection, to do whatever she wants to do.

“To do that we need to broaden out the work of the Government Equalities Office to focus on women at every stage of their lives.

“I will be shifting the focus of the GEO’s work to look at how we can help women who are economically inactive, women in low paid and low skilled jobs and women on legacy benefits – trapped into limiting their hours or income, and women facing multiple barriers to being independent.”

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