Liz Truss quietly drops women's minister role during cabinet reshuffle

British Prime Minister Liz Truss holds her first cabinet meeting at the 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, September 7, 2022. Jeremy Selwyn/Pool via REUTERS
Liz Truss has appointed former chancellor Nadhim Zahawi as equalities minister. (Reuters)

Liz Truss has sparked backlash after quietly dropping the post of minister for women during the announcement of her new cabinet on Tuesday evening.

The new PM has chosen Nadhim Zahawi for the post of equalities minister, a role previously titled women and equalities minister and held by Truss herself.

Labour MP, Sarah Champion, said dropping 'women' from the title of the job "belittles" the challenges facing women.

Read more: Liz Truss: What to know about Britain's new prime minister

"This is important; women and girls suffer discrimination and violence because of their gender," said Champion.

"To merge them into 'equalities' belittles the scale of the problem and the need for specific intervention".

"Wonder if the erasing of women from the job title is intentional or just an oversight?" tweeted Caroline Noakes, Tory MP and chair of the women and equalities committee.

Nadhim Zahawi arrives at Number 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain September 6, 2022. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Nadhim Zahawi moved from his role as chancellor on Tuesday evening. (Reuters)

Labour MP Kate Osborne questioned what impact the removal of the role could have on parliamentary business.

"Sexism and misogyny no longer exist then?" said Osborne.

"What happens to the women and equalities committee - will women be erased from that too?"

In 2019, Truss delivered a speech as women's and equalities minister, where she said: "As a government minister, I’ve never had another female minister in my team, apart from now that I’m the minister for women and equalities.

"So I think it does show that we’ve got some way to go."

A spokesperson for the prime minister on Wednesday said the title "has changed slightly" but the role will still cover women's issues.

"I believe the people of the United Kingdom will be focused on the [government's] actions... rather than job title," they said.

Read more: Liz Truss promises tax cuts and action on energy bills in first speech as PM

It comes as Truss begins to lay out her agenda for what her premiership will look like, pledging to announce a package of measures to help Brits struggling with the energy crisis on Thursday.

Appearing at her first prime minister's questions (PMQs) on Wednesday, Truss said she is "determined to deliver" for the UK.

"I am honoured to take my place as prime minister in this House and to take on the responsibility at a vital time for our country," said Truss.

“I am determined to deliver for everybody across our United Kingdom and I will work constructively with all members of this House to tackle the challenges we face.”

Watch: UK cabinet ministers assemble for first meeting under Liz Truss