WE would strongly advocate for a change to allow women to breastfeed in the House of Commons chamber, says Women’s Equality Party leader Sophie Walker, adding that the controversy around the debate shows again the need to put Parliament into ‘special measures’.
“It is ridiculous that in 2015, the taboo around breastfeeding persists,” says Sophie Walker. “Allowing breastfeeding in the Commons chamber would give female MPs with babies more flexibility to carry out their work – to advocate for those who have elected them as representatives.
“WE believe that the time has come to put Parliament into special measures – to introduce short-term quotas that would balance Parliament in just two elections and ensure that women’s voices are heard at the same volume as men’s when legislation is being considered.”
The Women’s Equality Party is campaigning for changes to the working practices of Parliament, the devolved assemblies and local councils, starting with family-friendly practices and working hours, electronic voting and formal parental leave.
It strongly backs MP Jess Phillips’ call to make Parliament more diverse and inclusive, including for new parents.
“WE would work hard to establish a more modern Parliament that would better represent the UK electorate, as set out in our policies on equal representation,” Ms Walker continued. “Politics needs to change to enable a wider group of people to participate.”
The benefits of breastfeeding, including protecting babies from infections and diseases, building a maternal bond, and lowering mothers’ risk of breast and ovarian cancer are clearly laid out in NHS guidelines.
“It is therefore extremely disappointing that Simon Burns, himself a former health minister, opposes women’s right to breastfeed their babies at work – including in the House of Commons chamber,” says Ms Walker.
Notes to Editors:
The Women’s Equality Party is committed to equal representation in politics and throughout working life. Women currently make up a third of MPs and a quarter of Peers. WE will put Parliament into “special measures” for the next two elections to address this, undertaking the following:
- Women must make up at least two thirds of new MPs and three quarters of new Peers
- Political parties must use all-women shortlists for two out of three of selection contests for retiring MPs
- In Wales 60 percent of Assembly candidates should be women and in Scotland 65 percent of Scottish Parliament candidates should be women until parity is achieved.
The Women’s Equality Party was founded by Sandi Toksvig and Catherine Mayer in March 2015, and launched its policies on 20 October. Read the full policy document here.
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