Women’s Conference 2017

Below is a report from our delegate to Women’s Conference, Bernadette Jenkins

FIRSTLY I WANT TO THANK THE CLP FOR GIVING ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO ATTEND THE WOMEN’S CONFERENCE.
THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND HAD TO BE A CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH JEREMY CORBYN, WHEN PATRICK AND I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A QUICK CHAT & PHOTO WITH HIM.
SATURDAY MORNING I WENT TO THE OPENING SPEECHES OF WOMEN’S CONFERENCE WHICH WERE LED BY DAWN BUTLER, SHADOW SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WOMEN & EQUALITIES. SHE WAS THE FIRST BLACK, WORKING CLASS WOMAN TO BECOME A MINISTER IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. IN HER NEW ROLE, SHE WANTED TO TACKLE ALL INJUSTICES, SAYING THAT SINCE 2010 LIFE EXPECTANCY AMONGST WOMEN HAD WORSENED UNDER THIS GOVERNMENT. 86% OF GOVERNMENT CUTS HAVE FALLEN ON WOMEN. SHE TALKED ABOUT WHEN THERE IS A LABOUR GOVERNMENT SHE WOULD ENCOURAGE WOMEN TO JOIN A UNION AS SHE HAD AND EMPOWER WOMEN TO ACHIEVE THEIR AMBITION. THE NEXT LABOUR GOVERNMENT WILL FUND FREE SANITARY PRODUCTS FOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS, FOODBANKS AND HOMELESS SHELTERS. SHE WILL WORK WITH MONICA LENNON, SCOTTISH MSP, WHO HAS TABLED A BILL ON PERIOD POVERTY. PAID FOR BY SCRAPPING GRAMMAR AND FREE SCHOOLS.
DAWN INTRODUCED THE NEXT SPEAKER, SAIMA ASHRAF, WHO WAS A FRENCH IMMIGRANT TO THIS COUNTRY, SHE TALKED ABOUT HER STRUGGLES SETTLING HERE AND WHO MANAGED TO BECOME THE DEPUTY LEADER OF DAGENHAM COUNCIL, SHE PAID TRIBUTE TO MARGARET HODGE FOR HER MENTORING AND SUPPORT SINCE 2010.
SHE ALSO TALKED ABOUT GENDER PAY GAP, THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SUFFRAGETTES MOVEMENT NEXT YEAR AND THAT THEIR COUNCIL IS THE FIRST TO HAVE AN EQUALITY CHARTER.
JEREMY CORBYN WAS NEXT TO SPEAK AND HE GOT A STANDING OVATION WALKING INTO THE CONFERENCE HALL. HE STARTED BY SAYING THAT THE LABOUR PARTY WAS NOW MADE UP OF 45% WOMEN AND THAT THE SHADOW CABINET WAS MOST DIVERSE EVER. HE SAID THE LABOUR PARTY IS THE PARTY OF WOMEN’S EQUALITY, NO MATTER WHO ELSE MIGHT TRY TO CLAIM THAT MANTLE,” HE SAID. “I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE TORIES HAVE A WOMAN LEADER, BUT THEIR POLICIES HAVE ACTUALLY HURT WOMEN A LOT.” HE HIT OUT AT THE ABUSE TARGETED AT WOMEN LABOUR MPS INCLUDING LUCIANA BERGER AND THE SHADOW HOME SECRETARY, DIANE ABBOTT.
“THE UNBELIEVABLE AND DISGUSTING AND DISGRACEFUL LEVELS OF ABUSE HAVE GOT TO STOP.”
HE THANKED KESIA DUGDALE FOR HER WORK AS LEADER OF THE SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY, STELLA CREASY FOR HER WORK IN NORTHERN IRELAND AS SHE HAD PUT FORWARD A PROPOSAL WHICH WOULD GIVE WOMEN FROM NORTHERN IRELAND FREE ACCESS TO ABORTIONS ON THE NHS IF THEY TRAVEL TO ENGLAND, WHICH WAS PASSED BY ALL SIDES OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. EMILY THORNBERRY FOR HIGHLIGHTING THE SAUDI GOVERNMENT AND THEIR TREATMENT OF WOMEN. HE ALSO TALKED ABOUT WASPI WOMEN AND THE UNFAIR PAY CAP. WANTING TO EXPAND SURE START CENTRES, REVERSING CUTS AND HELPING REFUGEES IN THIS COUNTRY.
HE ALSO TALKED ABOUT THE GREAT WORK BEING DONE WITH THE JO COX LEADERSHIP PROJECT. THIS BRAND NEW TRAINING AND MENTORING PROGRAMME WILL, OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, TRAIN HUNDREDS OF WOMEN TO BE FUTURE LEADERS.
NEXT TO SPEAK WAS EMILY THORNBERRY, WHO SAID 119 WOMEN LABOUR MPS WERE ELECTED IN JUNE THIS YEAR. SHE MENTIONED THE AMOUNT OF ABUSE ON SOCIAL MEDIA THAT WOMEN MPS HAD TO ENDURE. SHE PAID TRIBUTE TO STELLA CREASY FOR HER WORK WITH PAY DAY LOANS AND ANGELA RAYNER WITH REGARD TO EDUCATION. SHE ALSO MENTIONED THE WASPI WOMEN AND THEIR STRUGGLE TO GET PENSIONS THEY DESERVED. IF LABOUR CAME TO POWER THEY WOULD HAVE A CABINET MINISTER FOR OLDER PEOPLE. I HAD A CHANCE THEN TO VOTE ON THE WOMEN’S CONFERENCE ARRANGEMENT COMMITTEE AND IN THE AFTERNOON IT WAS ANNOUNCED THAT TERESA CLARK AND JEAN CROCKER WERE SELECTED.
WE LISTENED TO DIFFERENT SPEECHES FROM VARIOUS CLP’S ACROSS THE COUNTRY ON VARYING TOPICS, INCLUDING SOCIAL CARE, NHS, BREXIT AND MENTAL HEALTH WHICH I FOUND MOST INTERESTING AS I WORK WITHIN THAT SECTOR AND THE STRUGGLES WOMEN IN PARTICULAR ARE HAVING WITH THEIR MENTAL HEALTH.
IN THE AFTERNOON I WENT TO A BREAKOUT SESSION ON RACE, FAITH AND WOMEN WHERE SPEAKERS INCLUDED SUSAN MATTHEWS FROM CHRISTIANS ON THE LEFT, MARSHA DA CORVA BATTERSEA MP, NINA GILL MEP, SHABANA MAHMOOD,MP, AND SARAH SACKMAN, PUBLIC & ENVIRONMENTAL LAWYER. THIS AT TIMES WAS QUITE HEATED ESPECIALLY WITH REGARD TO ANTI-SEMITISM, BUT ON THE WHOLE WAS A GOOD DEBATE.
PATRICK AND I ATTENDED THE JEREMY CORBYN RALLY IN THE EVENING WHERE OTHER SPEAKERS INCLUDED JOHN MCDONNELL, MARTHA OSAMOR WHO GAVE A GREAT SPEECH ABOUT HER LONG FRIENDSHIP WITH JEREMY CORBYN AND AGAIN ABOUT THE HELP HE GAVE HER WHEN SHE CAME TO THIS COUNTRY AS AN IMMIGRANT WITH HER FAMILY. HER DAUGHTER MP KATE OSAMOR WAS IN ATTENDANCE TO SUPPORT HER.
THE WOMEN’S CONFERENCE WAS GREAT AND WAS MORE ENJOYABLE HAVING PATRICK THERE FOR OUR FIRST CONFERENCE TOGETHER.

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