We want a Labour leader who understands and acts to meet the challenges and aspirations faced by women. That is why we are backing Ed Miliband (Our man will win on second votes, says Ed Miliband's team, 6 September). Tackling inequality has been at the heart of his career and of his campaign, and he has always argued that "women's issues" are not for women to fight alone. He has also argued that Labour is the natural home for all of those who want to see the promotion of gender equality. Throughout the campaign, Ed has spoken out against inequality, and for fairness – in the workplace, on flexible working, and on the low conviction rates in rape cases.
This has been backed up by substantial proposals. Most people who work for under £7 an hour are women, usually with families to care for. Ed has campaigned resolutely for the living wage of over £7 an hour to ensure that women's low pay is tackled properly. He focuses on the particularly harsh effects of the coalition's budget policy on women, with their cuts in family support and public sector jobs. Ed has the ability and the commitment to offer practical alternatives to these policies, which sabotage social justice and economic progress.
Ed Miliband supports all-women shortlists to make sure that more women become MPs; he was the first candidate to say we should move towards greater gender balance in the shadow cabinet; and he wants to introduce a cabinet-level shadow women's minister, to make sure that women's voices are always heard at the highest levels. And Ed insists that there should be no backtracking on promises made to women in the developing world. He knows they bear the brunt of the effects of the financial crisis, spiralling prices and the pressures imposed by climate change.
Glenys Kinnock, Joan Ruddock MP, Margaret Beckett, Elizabeth Smith, Helena Kennedy, Ellie Reeves, Kathy Lette, Ann Begg MP, Luciana Berger MP, Roberta Blackman Woods MP, Margaret Curran MP, Maria Eagle MP, Anita Gale, Helen Goodman MP, Susan Elan Jones MP, Joyce Gould, Lillian Greenwood MP, Shabana Mahmood MP, Linda McAvan MEP, Arlene McCarthy MEP, Anne McKechin MP, Sandra Osborne MP, Margaret Prosser, Rachel Reeves MP, Emma Reynolds MP, Alison Seabeck MP, Catherine Stihler MEP, Emily Thornberry MP, Joan Walley MP, Glenis Willmott MEP, Cathy Jamieson MP, Lisa Nandy MP
• Four of the five Labour leadership candidates promised to support a 50:50 shadow cabinet. So we are disappointed the parliamentary party decided that the shadow cabinet should include only eight women out of 26. We look forward to the support of the new leader in persuading the PLP that we need a shadow cabinet that clearly leads for women.
Rachael Saunders, Helen Symons, Melanie Ward and eight others
We are writing to you as women activists from across the Labour Party, who want to contribute our views to Labour’s leadership candidates regarding the involvement of women within the Party.
We are proud of Labour’s record on equality – the fact that there are more Labour women in Parliament now than from the other Parties combined is a testament to the leadership that we have shown. However, we are also concerned that the attrition rate of women in the Labour Party is too high – too many women are put off politics before they even contemplate standing for election – and that there are still far too many barriers that stop women from being meaningfully involved at every level in the Party. Those barriers are exacerbated for LGBT, BAME and disabled women – Labour not only needs more women, but more diverse women too. That the 2010 election has been widely referred to as ‘the election in which women were invisible’ shows a clear and pressing need for action.
The next Labour leader must lead for women – must speak up on the issues that matter, pro-actively work to tear down the barriers that put off many women from being involved in the Party and ensure that women are in senior decision-making positions in the Party and the Shadow Cabinet. We believe the following are necessary for our Party to address the real and pressing barriers faced by women. We’d like you to tell us if you are willing to act on them.
1. Will you speak out on issues that affect women (from domestic abuse, to the rape conviction rate, to childcare and family issues, to poisonous media coverage of women in politics), ensure they are a genuine priority for the Party, and not leave them solely for women politicians to respond to?
2. Will you support 50:50 gender balance in the Shadow Cabinet and support women’s representation across the Shadow Government operation, and will you appoint a Shadow Cabinet-level Minister for Women and ensure that it is treated as a key part of the Shadow team? Will you support women standing in Local Government, and ensure that existing rules around gender representation in Labour Group Executives are also applied to Local Government Executive and Shadow Executive structures, leading to a position where Labour Groups and Council Cabinets across the country reflect the communities they serve? Will you commit to maintain All-Women Shortlists, ensure they are properly and transparently implemented, and will you commit to actively making the case for quotas and All-Women Shortlists when they come under attack?
3. We need a fully supported and well-resourced national, regional and local organisational and campaigning structure within the Party that allows women to come together, to decide upon campaigning priorities, and to have clear routes to feed in to Party policy making. Will you support this and, if so, how will you make it a reality?
4. Will you take personal responsibility for a cultural change from the top to the bottom of the Party to tear down the barriers that stop women getting or staying involved? Will you ensure that there is better training and guidelines for CLP Officers to ensure that local Parties proactively support women’s involvement? Will you ensure that senior women in the Party are never again ‘invisible’, both as spokespeople for the Party in the media, and as internal decision-makers?
5. Too many women are put off politics because of how they are treated. Will you install a transparent and accessible complaints procedure that takes complaints seriously and acts quickly?
Throughout the leadership election, we will be challenging you on the broader policy issues that affect women too – women will be the first to suffer as the Conservative- Liberal Democrat Coalition slashes jobs and public services, and it is vital that Labour speaks out against the Government when they are sidelining women’s views.
Now more than ever, with the Tories and Liberal Democrats shamed by their lack of women at the top of politics, Labour needs to be a Party that visibly and meaningfully represents women. Ensuring that Labour has women in key positions across the Party – and that we speak up and are heard on the issues that matter to women – is not only the right thing to do, but will also help us to regain ground amongst the women whose votes we lost at the General Election.
We very much welcome the fact that there’s a woman on the ballot paper in this election, however, we also believe it’s the responsibility of all candidates to commit to a Labour Party which leads for women, and in which women lead. We look forward to receiving your formal response to the five points above, which we will publish on http://lead4women.wordpress.com/. You can respond at
Olivia Bailey – Hammersmith CLP
Hannah Blythyn – Alyn & Deeside CLP
Katie Curtis – Castle Point CLP
Jenny Duncan – Edinburgh North & Leith CLP
Helen Gibson – Lewisham Deptford CLP
Susan Nash – Walthamstow CLP
Claire Reynolds – Stalybridge & Hyde CLP
Rachael Saunders – Bethnal Green & Bow CLP
Rohini Simbodyal – Edmonton CLP
Helen Symons – Southend West CLP
Melanie Ward – Lewisham West & Penge CLP
Ellie Reeves – Labour Party NEC
Tami Peterson – Hackney North & Stoke Newington CLP
Jude Robinson – Camborne & Redruth CLP
Vic Langer – Finchley and Golders Green CLP
Louise Riddell – Edinburgh East CLP
Nan Sloane – Leeds North East CLP
Melanie Haslam – Bolton South East CLP
Rebecca Gordge – Bristol West CLP
Sophie Ballinger – Derby South CLP
Claire Spencer – Birmingham Hall Green CLP
Christine Quigley – Westminster North CLP
Hannah McFaull – Tower Hamlets CLP
Irma Gorton, North Tyneside CLP
Talat Yaqoob – Edinburgh East CLP
Eilidh MacDonald – Edinburgh East CLP
Alex Baker – Vauxhall CLP
Kate Dommett – Sheffield Central CLP
Mary Lockhart – Ochil and South Perthshire CLP
Judith Fisher – Glasgow North West CLP
Ruth Dearnley – Chipping Barnet CLP
Rossanna Trudgian – Colchester CLP
Emma Gillan – Dunfermline & West Fife CLP
Sally Waters – Lewisham Deptford Bridge CLP
Maggie Curtis – Castle Point CLP
Estelle Hart – Gower CLP
Oona King – Bethnal Green & Bow
Kainde Manji – Stirling CLP
Marielle O’Neill – Batley and Spen CLP
Kezia Dugdale – Edinburgh East CLP
Sophia James -Sutton Coldfield CLP
Stephanie David – Bexleyheath & Crayford CLP
Samantha Kennedy – Labour Students
Vivienne Potter -Rutherglen and Hamilton West CLP
Marie Birchall, Surrey South West CLP
Rebecca Jakob – West Ham CLP
Sarah Wayman, Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP
Helen Arnall – Cannock Chase CLP
Salman Jafri – Kilburn & Hamstead CLP
Kat Stark – Hornsey and Wood Green CLP
Marie-Noelle Loewe – Bethnal Green & Bow
Vicky Heywood – Stalybridge and Hyde CLP
Grace Fletcher-Hackwood, Manchester Gorton CLP
Rosanne Kirk – Lincoln CLP
Hollie Jones Birmingham Edgbaston CLP
Clair Hawkins, Bethnal Green and Bow CLP
Helen Stephen, Glasgow North CLP
Liz Moon Peterborough CLP
Cllr Ingrid Cranfield – Edmonton
Chrissie Finnigan – Edinburgh South CLP
Janel Muir – Central Aryshire CLP
Cllr Louise Baldock – Chair of North West Region Labour Party
Ruth Bannister – Dulwich and West Norwood CLP
Judith Gardiner – Bethnal Green and Bow CLP
Madeleine Harris Smith – Dulwich & West Norwood CLP
Victoria Jamieson – Paisley & Renfrewshire South CLP
Jean McLean – Bermondsey and Old Southwark CLP
Linnia David – Bridgend CLP
Cllr Shelia Boswell – Tooting CLP
Kath Rolph – Houghton & Sunderland CLP
Cllr Edith M Hughes – Bridgend CLP
Maggie O’Brien – Peterborough CLP
Jill Stevens – Hove & Portslade CLP
Cllr Rabina Khan – Tower Hamlets CLP
Cllr Louise Baldock – Chair, NW Region Labour Party
Kusum Parashar – Eailing Southall CLP
Jane Down – Bridgend CLP
Dannie Grufferty – Liverpool Riverside CLP
Lisa Holman – Chelsea & Fulham CLP
Gail McDade – Corby CLP
Cllr Rita Krishna – Hackney North & Stoke Newington CLP
Helia Evans – Holborn & St Pancras CLP
Jenny Smith – Camberwell & Peckham CLP
Emma Hoddinott – Wentworth & Dearne CLP
Sally Spur – Battersea CLP
Hannah Lazell – Birmingham Ladywood CLP
Susan Dungworth – Blyth Valley CLP
Sally Young – Newcastle Central CLP
Esther Ashby – City of Durham CLP
Maria Eagle MP – Garston and Halewood CLP
Andrea Shufflebotham – Islington North CLP
Jyoti Bhojani – Harrow East CLP
Rachel Cummings – Horsham CLP
Ellie Cumbo – Hackney North and Stoke Newington CLP
Catherine Briddick, Camberwell and Peckham CLP
Mandy Telford, Barrow and Furness CLP
We want as many women in the Labour Party as possible to add their names to this letter. If you wish to support it, please email
and let us know your name and CLP or affiliated organisation, and we’ll add your name.