Equality policies differ significantly between three main political parties

A gulf has emerged between the political parties on the issue of women’s equality, a new poll shows.

Equality campaign group The Fawcett Society asked approximately 400 parliamentary candidates whether they would support action on women’s inequality in their constituencies and nationally.

Of the three major parties, 23.1% of Labour candidates, 19.9% of Liberal Democrats and 2.6% of the Conservatives committed their support.

Candidates were asked whether they would support local and national action to tackle the gender pay gap, improve support for female rape victims and assess the impact of deficit cutting proposals on women.

Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg were among the candidates that answered ‘yes’ to all three questions. David Cameron answered with the Tories policy position in the relevant areas.

Ceri Goddard, chief executive of Fawcett, said: “These figures speak for themselves. All the parties have been campaigning on the issue of fairness but less than one-third of candidates are prepared to say they would make the move from words to actions.

“We were already very concerned by the near invisibility of women in this election, but it seems this may be the least of their worries after 6 May – whichever party gets in, achieving equality for women is still far from the cross-party and non-controversial issue it should be.”

In March, Personnel Today reported how men and women have markedly different views on how far UK employers have progressed on gender equality.

And last year, The Fawcett Society warned that women’s equality at work was being threatened by lax policies that don’t go far enough to stop men accessing pornographic material in the workplace and using lap-dancing clubs as meeting places.

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