Low-paid women to be targeted in equality drive

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Penny Mordaunt.
PA

Unemployed and low-paid women are to be the focus of a new government drive to improve their lives, cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt has announced.

The Government Equalities Office will shift its approach from getting more executives into the boardroom to focusing on Britain’s “invisible women”, she said on Wednesday.

Policies will be aimed at removing the “multiple barriers” to working women.

These women “keep our families… and our nation going,” she said.

Speaking at the Women in Work conference in London, the women and equalities minister said there had been significant progress on closing the gender pay gap and getting more female executives on company boards.

But, she said, low-paid and low-skilled women had been left behind.

The GEO, which will now be housed within the Cabinet Office, will focus on these women who face “multiple barriers” to becoming independent.

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“We need to broaden out our work beyond the FTSE 350, beyond London, beyond women executives and big business,” Ms Mordaunt said.

“We need to focus on small business, part-time work, women from all parts of the UK, low-paid women, women with multiple barriers to meeting their full potential.”

Ms Mordaunt said about 1.8 million women are currently economically inactive because they are caring for their home or family, more than eight times the number of men in that position.

Women are three times more likely than men to work part-time and are disproportionately represented in sectors which tend to be poorly paid such as caring and cleaning roles.

She also said that white British women have an employment rate of 73.3%, but for women from a Bangladeshi background it is 32.8%.

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