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Suffragettes100: Barking and Dagenham’s history of fighting for equality

PUBLISHED: 17:00 06 February 2018

Margaret Hodge

Margaret Hodge

Archant

Barking and Dagenham has a well-known history of prominent women in the borough, from local suffragette Annie Huggett to former MP for Barking and women’s rights champion, Jo Richardson.

Barking has a rich history of strong women who have led the way in fighting inequality and continue to do so.

We can see this today with over half of the council’s cabinet being women.

As a female MP I have witnessed a great deal of change since 1994 when I was first elected.

Back then only around 10 per cebnt of MPs in Parliament were women; by 1997 due to a concerted effort by the Labour Party, we managed to double the number of women who were elected to parliament from 60 in 1992 to 120.

With more female MPs, we completely transformed the face of parliament and pushed women’s equality issues up the political agenda.

I am really proud to have served under three consecutive Labour governments and fought to improve women’s lives here in Barking and Dagenham.

Whilst in power, we introduced community centres in every community, doubled the number of nursery places, doubled maternity pay and brought in a right to request flexible working.

We helped many single parents who were struggling to work and could not afford to look after their children by topping up the income of low-paid women with tax credits.

There has been a great deal of progress for women since I was first elected however there is still so much more needed to be done.

Despite all of this change we now have a Conservative government who have been stalling progress for women in this country.

All too often I hear stories of cuts to children’s services in the borough, of mothers struggling with the extortionate cost of childcare and of women’s refuges not receiving enough funding to carry out the vital work that they do.

We still have a long battle ahead of us and I will do everything possible as your MP to fight for the rights of women in our borough and continue our fight for equality in Westminster.

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