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Journalists camped outside her home; she was attacked by columnists and by the public, outraged that she was nursing a newborn in Parliament. And of course I never tried to bring the baby into the chamber. When she lost her seat in , she was in some ways relieved. She went on to have three more sons before returning to the House of Lords in her forties to pick up her political career as a Labour peer. I was very, very lucky, because I came here in and ended up a minister in I think my generation thought we had to be men.

We had to pretend to be men. Modern-day women MPs have a very different experience.

Female MPs are able to take maternity leave; the Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson last year became one of only a handful of ministers to have a baby while in office and recently returned from maternity leave to resume her post as a business minister. The house has also changed tempo to fit in with modern working lives. Now there is only one parliamentary session each week, which runs to There are also a lot more women to share the experience of being an MP.

Women speak of the camaraderie that cuts across party politics. The changes are not universally applauded. This is all part of the political process. It is not just putting your feet up. It is the bonding to which the Tory party attaches quite a lot of importance. Some older MPs privately speak of their bafflement that women try to press on with political careers while also having families. The women MPs interviewed for this piece insist that they do not encounter pointed sexism in their daily lives in Westminster. But many — particularly on the Conservative benches, where they are a smaller minority — feel they are labouring in a political culture that is too white, heterosexual and male.


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But Amber Rudd, a Treasury minister, says the bullying culture is not just aimed at women. Macleod has devoted much of her first term as an MP, through her all-party parliamentary group, to thinking of ways to make parliament more family-friendly and appealing to women. Parliament can and does change over time but we still have a long way to go.

So far, little has come out of that report. But Nicky Morgan thinks improvements can be made to the parliamentary calendar to better align recess with school holidays and give MPs more weeks in their constituencies. As for her own set-up, her seven-year-old son Alex is looked after by her architect husband Jonathan in their family home in Loughborough, while she works in Westminster, returning to her constituency for weekends.

But it is an important job. Some mothers are not prepared to make those kinds of sacrifices.


Kitty Ussher, a former Labour Treasury minister, said that she quit politics in after deciding she could not give her two young children the family life she wanted for them while also pursuing her political career. Lucy Powell, who is raising her three children with her husband James Williamson, a hospital doctor, in her Manchester constituency, is also ambivalent about the prospect of juggling a cabinet position with her responsibilities as a mother.

But the whole of the civil-service machinery would never give you the breathing space. Packages must be submitted no later than September 30, Each of the 40 women will be highlighted individually on the college website throughout and in the fall publication of Leadership Magazine.

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WWAT is an initiative organized by a group of Westminster alumnae committed to the strategic recruitment, retention and advancement of women at Westminster College. By raising funds to support this commitment, we will help ensure a safe, inclusive, and stimulating environment that empowers Westminster women at all levels to achieve success and fulfillment. At the heart of the programme is the Coalition of women MPs from Arab countries to combat violence against women, which was established in January with WFD support.

Calling for change at the national and regional level, the Coalition is a network that helps MPs share experience on what works and unite together for greater impact.

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One in three women globally have experienced sexual or physical violence at least once in their lives. This number does not include the masses of women who do not come forward to report incidents of violence out of fear of reprisal.

Women of Westminster

Social stigma plays a fundamental role when it comes to how violence against women and girls is perceived. Contributing factors that allow this norm to prevail include a lack of legislation that criminalises domestic violence, limited protection for women inside their homes, as well as a justice and a court system ill prepared to prosecute perpetrators and protect victims. Legislatures can play a crucial role in establishing a legal environment that protects women.

With improved laws that are more rigorously enforced, potential perpetrators will be discouraged from committing violence while survivors will have wider access to the necessary services and support. Increased public debate, new legislation, improved oversight, political leadership and enhanced regional cooperation are needed to ensure the rights of women and girls are upheld and impunity for perpetrators becomes a thing of the past.