Sharon attended a Parliamentary reception hosted by Paula Sherriff MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health, to show her support for efforts to raise awareness of women’s health conditions, and empower women to seek appropriate treatment.
The group aims to empower women to ensure that they can make an informed choice about the best treatment for them and that they are treated with dignity and respect.
The event was attended by many parliamentarians, and was supported by a number of representatives from charities and the medical and nursing Royal Colleges, patients, health professionals and the general public.
Speakers included Katie Piper, television presenter and founder of the Katie Piper Foundation, feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, Angela Rippon, television journalist, newsreader and presenter and patients and Dr Gina Radford, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health.
Following the launch event, Sharon said:
“Since I was elected to Parliament, I have taken the issue of women’s health very seriously and worked alongside my fellow Parliamentarians to ensure women receive the best treatment and healthcare support possible.
“A lot of this has been done through my work as Chair of the Ovarian Cancer APPG and Co-Chair of the Breast Cancer APPG, and that is why I am delighted that there is now a cross-party group which will be focused on all aspects of women’s health in our society.
“It is important that we understand the conditions that women suffer from and ensure that they are treated in a way that every patient wants to be – with dignity and respect.”
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo's website.
Last Sunday, mothers across the country would have woken up to breakfast in bed, cards, gifts and flowers from their families, thanking them for caring for loved ones and nurturing their children all year round.
We all know mothers care can go unrecognised – but we do it nonetheless.
Then on Tuesday we celebrated International Women’s Day. I was delighted to welcome Katie from St Robert's Sixth Form to shadow me and take part in International Women’s Day celebrations here in Parliament.
Katie was one of nine selected out of 75 young women from across the UK, who were also shadowing their MP, to swap places with MPs on the Women & Equalities Select Committee and question them on what more we can do to address inequality.
Some argue that celebrating a woman’s place in society can be counter-productive to our struggle for equality.
Yet, with the gender pay gap still persistent in many areas of the workforce and women still greatly under-represented in top positions in business and public life, it is clear we still need to continue our fight for gender equality.
Unfortunately, this Tory Government is exacerbating women’s inequality.
Women face the brunt of public sector cuts; one in nine pregnant women are forced out of their jobs each year, and by 2020 women will have paid for 81% of the Government’s tax and benefit changes implemented since 2010.
Pair all of this with the 763 fewer Sure Start Centres, which provided vital support to families, then it is obvious this Government’s strategy for women is not working.
Labour understands if our country is to succeed, then women must be a part of that success, too.
That is why we pushed further than any other Party on women’s representation with All-Women Short Lists. We also introduced rafts of equality legislation, reduced the gender pay gap by a third over our time in office and we were the first administration since the Second World War to develop a childcare policy and flagship programmes, such as tax credits, to help women into work.
Instead of this Government rolling back women’s hard-fought rights and support, what we need is a strategy to support women, as both equal members of society and as drivers for the economic growth we need.
Labour recognises this and will do all we can to achieve this when holding the Government to account in Parliament.
Sharon reacts to figures that show women are hit three times harder than men in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
Following the Autumn Statement, Sharon reacts to Government’s public expenditure savings hitting women hardest.
Despite the Chancellor’s climb down on tax credit cuts, figures compiled by the House of Commons Library have shown that women will still be hit three times harder than men by Osborne’s announced changes to welfare spending and taxation in the Autumn Statement.
Of the £16 billion of savings expected to be raised in this Parliament, £12 billion will come directly from the pockets of women through changes to universal credit, childcare support and child benefit.
In reaction these figures, Sharon commented:
“It is clear that this Tory Government is continuing to fail women when it comes to their swinging cuts to public expenditure announced in yesterday’s Autumn Statement.
“Despite women making up 50 per cent of the country’s population, women still continue to be paid less than men and primarily work in lower paid sectors, yet the Chancellor’s savings have fallen mainly on the shoulders of women. More needs to be done to address this gender inequality so that women are supported with childcare costs, better employment opportunities and see pay parity with men.”