**Our Political Editor-At-Large, Gaby Hinsliff, reports on the breaking news that our Mind The Pay Gap Campaign has helped changed the law for women all over the UK...
We won! Or rather, millions of you did. British women are finally set to benefit from the new equal pay laws Grazia has been campaigning for, after a surprise last minute change of heart in Downing Street.
David Cameron has bowed to pressure from both his Liberal Democrat coalition partners and from Labour's Gloria de Piero to introduce mandatory pay audits, under which big companies that employ more than 250 people will have to publish details of their male and female staff's pay.
The move, expected to be rushed through parliament just before it breaks up for this May's general election, should arm women with the information they need to crack open the secrecy over salaries and challenge unfair pay. It represents a victory for thousands of *Grazia *readers who signed our Mind The Pay Gap petition, tackled their MPs and kept up the pressure - culminating in a lobby of parliament last year with several of the original Dagenham factory workers whose fight for equal pay in the 1970s inspired the hit musical Made in Dagenham.
Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat employment minister who has fought for the measure behind the scenes, said: 'This is a victory for all women in the UK, and in particular for everyone who has been making the case for pay transparency and helping put pressure on the Conservatives - including the inspiring ladies of Dagenham, the Fawcett Society and of course Grazia readers. It shows you really can make a difference and change the world by engaging in political campaigns.'
The announcement on the eve of International Women's Day suggests a fierce battle for working women's votes is now underway in the run up to the election. Last week, the UKIP leader Nigel Farage even appeared on ITV's Loose Women in a bid to reach out to female voters - only to start a row by suggesting that it was a 'fact of life' some women would be paid less than men if they took six months off to have a baby.
The last Labour government passed a law to introduce mandatory pay audits, known as Section 78, but it wasn't brought into force by the coalition. Labour peer Glenys Thornton had been planning to try and force a vote on the issue in the House of Lords on March 11. But following dramatic last minute talks between Cameron and his LibDem deputy, Nick Clegg, the government will now put forward its own proposals, expected to bring in pay audits by next April.
Gloria de Piero, Labour's shadow minister for women, has led the campaign for section 78 and said last night it was 'fantastic news' but should never have taken so long. 'Labour passed this law in 2010 but the Tories and LibDems ditched it. That's five wasted years when we could have seen real progress to close the pay gap.'
Small companies won't be covered but about 10 million people working for larger firms could benefit.
Recent figures show the pay gap between men and women has closed slightly but men still earn 19.1% more than women, when both full-timers and part-timers are included (for part-timers the gap is wider). Nicky Morgan, the Cabinet women’s minister, recently admitted she thought it would be ‘at least a couple of parliaments’ before the gap closed at this rate. Looks like we might not have to wait so long for a fair deal after all….