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

Better protection for victims of revenge porn and Sure Start Plus... We've read the entire manifesto so you don't have to.

Jeremy Corbin

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The Labour Party is calling for ‘real change’ in a manifesto that looks to confront the climate emergency while also dealing with inequality. Jeremy Corbyn’s party wants voters to know that ‘over 85% of the burden of Tory/Lib Dem cuts has fallen on the shoulders of women’ and has dedicated a whole section of its 2019 manifesto to women and equalities. But which policies could offer real change for you?

A department for women

The Labour manifesto includes a promise to create a Department for Women and Equalities. It would take a close look at every government policy to find out what impact it would have on women (and all under-represented groups). The new department would sit alongside an independent advisory group – a National Women’s Commission.


Buses may not sound like a gendered issue, but Labour points out that women are more likely to rely on buses than men are – in 2017, a third more women travelled by bus. Cuts under austerity have forced the closure of many bus routes, leaving some women unable to travel freely. The party wants to nationalise bus networks and give local authorities enough money to re-open the 3,000 routes that have been cut, then expand services in rural areas. It’s not just good news for women over 60 who already have a bus pass – the party are promising free bus travel for under-25s.


Labour say they’ll make women’s health services ‘comprehensive’ and they’ve offered some specific policies to show how they’d do it. According to charity Beat, around 75% of the 1.25 million people in the UK who have an eating disorder are women. The Labour Party promises to invest more in eating disorders services, making sure they all meet NICE guidelines. Anorexia currently has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder – Labour say they’d improve access to psychological therapies and create a 24/7 crisis service.

If you’re a new mum, Labour’s idea to fund more health visitors, provide extra support with breastfeeding and introduce a mental health check-up six weeks after you’ve given birth might appeal. And if the unthinkable happens and your child passes away, Labour promises you’ll get bereavement support.


The party promises to decriminalise abortion and ‘uphold women’s reproductive rights’, building on the success last month in Northern Ireland and resisting the roll-back of rights we’ve seen creeping in across the Atlantic in Trump’s America. Labour says it will make sure women in Northern Ireland can access abortions in their own country.


Thousands of women born in the 1950s are set to miss out on pensions payments after the pension age was changed at short notice. Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) has been campaigning for compensation and the Labour Party promises to create a system to repay what they’ve lost and create new legislation so this can never happen again. The party’s also pledging to freeze the state pension age at 66 – it’s currently set to reach 67 by 2028.


Right now, divorce laws often create conflict where there was none, as each partner has to find evidence for the marriage break-down. People looking to avoid that through a ‘no-fault divorce’ face a much longer process – often adding years to the proceedings. A no-fault divorce bill to speed up this process was dropped when Parliament was prorogued. Labour says it will create a new no-fault divorce procedure.

Gender recognition

There are continuing campaigns to refresh the Gender Recognition Act, scrapping the long and often traumatic process that’s currently required before anyone can change their legally recognised gender. The Labour Party promises to introduce self-declaration, while working to tackle discrimination that trans people regularly face.


The Labour Party wants to start a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’, where jobs in green industries will be created and people trained to do them. The party is promising bursaries for women, supporting them to take up this training and move into STEM jobs.

Violence against women

The Labour Party pledges to ratify the Istanbul Convention, a cross-European project to tackle violence against women and girls, which the UK signed in 2012 but never implemented. And going further than the Lib Dems, the party also wants to ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention to prevent violence and harassment in the workplace.

To help implement the convention, Labour wants to create a new role – a Commissioner for Violence against Women and Girls. Whoever is appointed would lead an overhaul of the way domestic and sexual abuse is tackled in the criminal justice system. Labour also promises to set up an independent review to look at the UK’s ‘shamefully low rape prosecution rates’, ban abusers from cross-examining their victims in family courts, and split benefits payments so that women aren’t compelled to stay in abusive homes to keep accessing money to support their children.

Many women’s refuges and rape crisis centres have shut since 2010, under austerity. Labour says it will start a National Refuge Fund, so that centres are properly funded in future and reintroduce a Domestic Violence Bill – a previous bill had to be dropped when Boris Johnson prorogued Parliament.

We’ve seen more high-profile cases of historical sexual harassment since #MeToo and Labour is promising to introduce police training so officers know how to handle them in future. There’ll also be improved training on domestic abuse and coercive control within relationships. Survivors of domestic abuse would also be entitled to 10 days’ paid leave from their workplace.

Revenge porn

A law was passed in 2015 making it an offence to share intimate images of someone else without their consent – often called revenge porn. The Labour Party aims to go further, introducing extra protections for victims. Currently, victims aren’t granted the same anonymity that you’d get during trials for other sexual offences.

Women in prison

Like the Lib Dems, Labour is acknowledging that more needs to be done to help women in the criminal justice system. The party wants to invest in alternatives to prison, using women’s centres and problem-solving courts – which focus on rehabilitation and gives judges the resources to tackle issues of addiction, mental health and domestic violence.

Women in the workplace

Labour is traditionally the party of workers and the manifesto features a pledge to set up a Ministry for Employment Rights. Plans include measures to make every workplace better for parents and carers – including giving all workers the right to flexible employment and to respond to family emergencies. New parents could benefit too, with paid maternity leave increased from nine months to 12 months and paternity leave rising from two to four weeks, along with a rise in statutory paternity pay. Labour also wants to guarantee workers have time off to grieve if a close family member dies, but also following a miscarriage.

Labour MP Carolyn Harris recently called for workplaces to introduce menopause policies to tackle the fact that the 80% of women who experience menopause symptoms often feel unsupported at work, with some even forced out of their jobs. Her party say they’ll provide extra protections against unfair dismissal for women going through the menopause, and pregnant women too.

From 2017 to 2018, the UK’s gender pay gap only fell by 0.1%. Corbyn’s party says it will force companies to create and carry out plans to erase their gender pay gap, and if they don’t, they’ll be fined. Only companies with more than 250 workers currently have to report their gender pay gap, but under Corbyn this would be extended to companies with 50 or more employees. Employers will also have extra responsibilities to end harassment in the workplace by tackling inappropriate behaviour from third parties like suppliers and clients.


Sure Start centres were created by New Labour to support parents and children with childcare, play groups, parenting advice and employment coaching. But since 2010, funding cuts have caused between 500 and 1,000 of them to close. Jeremy Corbyn’s party say they’d reverse these cuts and extend the service with ‘Sure Start Plus’, available to people in every community and focused on children under two.

They’ve also set a target for preschool education, giving themselves five years to extend 30 hours per week of free education to all two, three and four-year-olds. Parents could then pay for extra hours, with the price based on their income. Less specifically, the party wants to extend childcare for one-year-olds, making sure it works for parents who work irregular hours.

Women in Parliament

Labour’s manifesto pledges to increase the number of women in parliament – something that’s seemed under threat recently, with more women MPs speaking out about the abuse they receive from colleagues and members of the public. Labour says it will push for all political parties to publish data about their electoral candidates, so the public can examine their commitment to diversity.

Foreign policy

Widespread sexual misconduct within aid organisations was revealed when the Oxfam scandal unfolded in the past couple of years. The Labour Party promises to create an independent ombudsman to deal with these abuses and triple the funding that the UK gives to grassroots women’s organisations across the globe.


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