Labour calls for ‘national conversation’ on women’s wellbeing

Labour will call for a “national conversation” on women’s wellbeing when the party’s Anneliese Dodds addresses the Women’s Institute on Saturday.

Ms Dodds, who is Labour chairwoman as well as shadow women and equalities secretary, will use the speech in London to call for greater discussion of the pressures faced by women aged 45-64 in work, health and childcare.

The party has pointed to an analysis of data showing that 185,000 more women aged between 50 and 64 have been economically inactive since the beginning of the pandemic.

Labour says that the economy could get a £7 billion boost if employment rates among that age group returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Ms Dodds said: “Women in their 40s, 50s and 60s are often juggling the school-run, caring for their elderly parents and managing their careers, potentially while experiencing the menopause and other health conditions.

“It is only right that we ask how we can make their experience a little easier.

“While we have made progress on equality in parenting, with many working parents now sharing the load in looking after young children, we haven’t seen the same support for older women.”

Melissa Green, the chief executive of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, said that many women are facing “an impossible balancing act” and it was “time to shine a spotlight” on the issues they face.

“Women are constantly juggling their careers and the demanding task of caring for their own children, grandchildren and too often their own parents, amid a crumbling social care system,” she said.

“These are women at the very heart of their families, communities and civic life across the country, yet their experiences are all too often ignored by society and politics and their contributions taken for granted.”

Ms Dodds will be hoping to avoid the experience of then-prime minister Tony Blair when she addresses the Women’s Institute.

Addressing the Women’s Institute national conference in Wembley in 2000, the Labour leader drew heckles and had his speech interrupted by slow handclapping as the audience showed its displeasure at his decision to use the forum for a political speech.