HC Deb 27 July 1998 vol 317 cc68-9W
Mr. Maclean

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will list the new policy initiatives she has taken since 1 June 1997 to aid women. [47273]

Ms Ruddock

The Ministers for Women have three policy priorities—family-friendly employment, childcare and tackling violence against women. We have also identified three further areas for priority action—putting women's concerns at the heart of Government, dialogue and representation.

We have taken a range of initiatives to aid women, including:

  • The first ever National Childcare Strategy, launched on 19 May, to help parents, especially mothers, balance work and family life by providing high quality, affordable and accessible childcare.
  • Work on a national strategy to tackle all forms of violence against women, to be published in the Autumn.
  • Support for the family through a commitment to promote family-friendly initiatives, including through the Fairness at Work White Paper and our commitment to implement the Working Time Directive, the Part-time Work Directive and the Parental Leave Directive.
  • A new initiative to mainstream the women's perspective into policy-making, launched on 18 May.
  • Opening up a dialogue with women, launching our own Website, running two pilot women's juries and commissioning a survey of 1,000 women to seek their views on childcare, family-friendly employment and maternity rights.

  • An agreement across Whitehall to the principle that 50 per cent. of public appointments should be filled by women, to ensure their voice is included in decision-making.

We have also established a powerful Cabinet sub-Committee on women, drawing together Ministers from across all major Government departments to put women's priorities at the centre of Government.

We have introduced the New Deal for Lone Parents to help lone mothers move from welfare to work; forthcoming increases in Child Benefit and income-related benefits will help families with children; and we have published draft legislation to allow pensions to be shared on divorce.