age and investigating the pay gap are top of the government's future
agenda for improving the lives of women, it has been announced.
Speaking at the launch of Delivering for Women: Progress so far,
public health and commons minister for women, highlighted the key new
policy areas and outlined the government's achievements to date.
Baroness Jay said the new priorities illustrated the Women's Unit's
commitment to work at the heart of government, across departmental
boundaries, to tackle issues of concern to women. This is reinforced
by the unit's move to the cabinet office.
'We believe that in meeting the aspirations and concerns of
women in their own right we are also benefiting society as a whole.
We have delivered 18 achievements in 18 months and will be looking to
build on this success.
'Girls outperform boys all the way to their mid teens, but they
then fall behind and too many fail to reach their potential. We will
be looking at the challenges facing teenage girls: issues such as
dieting, smoking, alcohol and drug dependency, role models and low
self-esteem to discover why this is.
'For women to reach their full potential in adulthood they must
have self worth as teenagers.'
Baroness Jay added:
'For the first time we will be conducting a complete analysis of
research into women's incomes over a lifetime, giving us detailed
information to inform policies addressing longstanding problems such
as women's poverty in old age and the gender pay gap.'
Minister of state for the cabinet office, Lord Falconer, said:
'The new agenda for women shows a government-wide commitment to
take women's concerns into account in all our policies and plans.'
Announcing the launch of a nationwide consultation exercise,
Listening to Women, Tessa Jowell said:
'We need to listen, and continue to listen, to all women. This
will enable us to be sure that we know what women think so we can
reflect their concerns inside government.' As part of the Listening
to Women exercise, roadshows will be visiting eight regional centres
and there will also be a postcard campaign canvassing the views of
women whose views might not otherwise be heard.
Baroness Jay and Tessa Jowell also signalled their commitment to
continue work on existing policies including:
- Spreading family-friendly employment practices, for example through
the Fairness at Work legislative package, which includes the working
time directive and working in sectors where women form the majority
of employees, like the NHS and retail.
- The publication of a document in the spring setting out the
government's approach to the protection and safety of women,
highlighting good practice, the benefits of inter-agency working, and
setting out a programme of practical measures to achieve this.
- Building on 18 achievements in 18 months. The achievements to date
include the first ever National Childcare Strategy; a Family Friendly
working package; increase in child benefit and legislation allowing
pensions to be shared on divorce.
1. Delivering for Women: Progress so far is a report charting what
has been achieved since the Women's Unit was established eighteen
months ago. The document also fulfils the government's obligation to
report regularly to the UN under the Beijing Platform for Action.
2. The Listening to Women roadshows will be visiting Newcastle,
Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Reading, Bristol, Nottingham and
Norwich over the coming months, in addition to a conference of
Women's Organisations to mark International Women's Day on 8 March
1999. How this might be taken forward in Scotland, Northern Ireland
and Wales is being discussed.
3. The postcard campaign is part of the Listening to Women
initiative. Prepaid postcards will be available through GPs'
surgeries, libraries, citizens advice bureaux and in mass circulation
women's magazines so women can let the government know their views.
4. The Women's Unit website address is www.women-unit.gov.uk