25th Jun, 2022

Labour's Mayor candidate Liam Byrne launches 'Women's Manifesto' to turn-around West Midlands' gender employment gap

THE LABOUR candidate for West Midlands Metro Mayor Liam Byrne has launched a ‘women’s manifesto’, vowing to help provide all they need to fulfil their potential and ambitions.

He was joined by Labour’s Shadow Policing Minister, Sarah Jones MP, he set out a 16-point plan to end discrimination against women in the region’s workplaces.

Ms Jones accompanied him to the unique Dolphin Women’s Centre in his constituency in Ward End which he helped set up ten years ago.

The centre has successfully helped women get the skills they need and increased confidence through free training, along with assistance, to get into work or back into employment.

Mr Byrne said years ago, after going to a JobCentre and asking about help for women, he became ‘annoyed’ as he was told they weren’t on a priority target list to find employment for.

After that he made it his mission to improve women’s lives in his constituency.

He added: “The West Midlands has the worst employment gap between men and women in the country and the pandemic has hit women harder than men.

“The Dolphin Women’s Centre is unique in what it has accomplished and I have seen the difference it has made.

“We need to roll out similar schemes across the region and that is what I intend to do.

“A lot of women were delighted simply because they had been listened to – people want politicians who don’t pretend to have all the answers but draw up a plan and research the best solutions.”

Mr Byrne said he got the idea from similar tried and tested projects in Denmark and Sweden.

“I have visited Copenhagen and the impact was phenomenal – it dramatically changed the gender pay gap.”

He said they needed to be properly costed and paid for as short-term funding streams meant needing to find finance for them every couple of years.

But he warned it would need to go hand-in-hand with other improvements.

“Very often women are looking after both their children and elderly relatives and unless we have a better social care system, we won’t be able to lift that burden or eradicate child poverty.”

Ms Jones said: “The pandemic has impacted more on women with regard to job losses and furlough.

“We also don’t often speak out about what we are good at and need confidence to do so.

“Liam has learned a lot over the years and uses that experience – there is a lot of support for him and what he is trying to do.

“The Dolphin Centre helps women who have had long periods out of work with confidence building, skills, how to present themselves and asks them what kind of job they want to do.

“Rather than going to a JobCentre and being pushed into any role, the centre helps them find out a role they want and form an action plan to where they want to be.”

Mr Byrne added: “Ten years of austerity have hit the region’s women hard.

“The closure of Sure Start provision means that once again women are bearing the brunt of caring responsibilities.

“As Mayor, I will establish an inquiry to see how we can build a Scandinavian-style full time child care system.

“Domestic abuse has soared during the pandemic, but even before then there were signs that violence against women was on the rise.

“We will work to make street harassment a crime and prioritise the safety of women in public spaces and on public transport.”

Click here for Liam Byrne’s ‘A New Future For The Heart of Britain’ manifesto.

The West Midlands Mayoral elections take place on May 6.

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