The Conservative Party 2019 Election Manifesto – What Are They Offering Women?

Domestic abuse courts and ‘affordable’ childcare.... We've read the entire manifesto so you don't have to.


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The Conservative Party may have given us the UK’s first two female Prime Ministers, but championing some women doesn’t mean you support all women. It’s estimated that 86% of Conservative austerity cuts were to spending on women, while current leader Boris Johnson faces accusations of groping women’s legs, inappropriate affairs and has seen sexist comments from his time as a journalist come back to haunt him. Does his party’s manifesto do anything to convince women that Johnson and the Conservatives have our best interests at heart?

Tampon tax

Campaigns to abolish the 5% VAT that’s added to tampons appeared to have paid off when the Conservatives promised to get rid of it after Brexit. They’ve repeated that promise in the manifesto.


A higher proportion of working women are employed part-time, compared with working men – in 2018, it was 41% versus around 13%. Boris Johnson’s party say they will look into an issue that’s meant people earning between £10,000 and £12,500 (more likely to be part-time women) have been missing out on pension benefits. They’ve promised a ‘comprehensive review’.

Many hoped that the party would address the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign, which is asking for compensation for women born in the 1950s, who will miss out on money after the Conservatives and Lib Dems changed the state pension age. Unfortunately, this manifesto doesn’t mention the issue.

Violence against women

The Conservative Party is promising to fight crime against women and girls. It highlights rape, FGM and forced marriage as important issues, but unlike the Lib Dems and Labour, it hasn’t shared any specific policies. The party also promises to protect people from harassment or violence based on their gender.

Domestic abuse is also mentioned in the manifesto, with the party pledging to pass the Domestic Abuse Bill. The bill was originally introduced by Theresa May, but had to be dropped when Boris Johnson prorogued Parliament. It’s now set to be accompanied by a pilot scheme of ‘domestic abuse courts’, which would tackle criminal and family matters at the same time.

Under the Conservatives, funding for women’s refuges has been cut by around £7m. Now, the party promises to ‘increase support for refuges’ and says it will set aside money as “support for rape victims”.

Women in the workplace

People with caring responsibilities – that could be childcare, or looking after an elderly relative or a disabled partner – currently have no automatic rights to paid leave when they have to deal with a care-related emergency. This currently affects more women than men, and the Conservatives say they will offer unpaid carers one week of leave.

There’s a lot of talk of entrepreneurship and business in the manifesto. The Conservatives are promising more start-up loans to help smaller businesses expand, claiming this will benefit women entrepreneurs.

There are no suggested changes to maternity or paternity leave here. Instead, the Conservatives point to something they did earlier in the year – giving new mums an extra six months protection against redundancy when they return to work. They also promise to make it easier for parents to take extended leave from work if their child needs neonatal care.


The party has promised to invest £1bn in new childcare options. It says these will be ‘affordable’, implying they might not be free for everyone, and will cover the time before and after school starts, as well as school holidays. For people in the Armed Forces, the Conservatives are promising ‘wraparound childcare’.

Universal Credit

The Conservative-led overhaul of the benefits system has received plenty of press coverage since it was announced in 2010 – most of it negative. The National Audit Office, which reviews the success of government spending, reported that Universal Credit had gone far over the Conservatives’ original cost estimates and had suffered from ‘weak management, ineffective control and poor governance’. The party’s manifesto is promising a change to the Universal Credit system – helping the main carer in every household receive Universal Credit payments directly. This, it claims: ‘will help give greater independence to individuals, most often women, trapped with coercive partners.

Women in Parliament

Echoing concerns raised by the Lib Dems and Labour that harassment could make people cautious about engaging in politics or standing for Parliament, the Conservatives say they will work to combat abuse and threats in person and online.

Foreign policy

Unsurprisingly, the manifesto has a heavy focus on Brexit. The Conservative party claims that when (or if) the UK leaves the EU, new trade deals could help ‘developing nations’ when they gain access to our economy. The party says that it could ‘advance women’s empowerment’ in these countries, pushing for all girls to have the right to 12 years of education and an end to preventable mother and baby deaths by 2030.


The Labour Party 2019 Election Manifesto – What Are They Offering Women?

The Liberal Democrats 2019 Election Manifesto – What Are They Offering Women?

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