Angela Rayner’s speech at Labour’s National Annual Women’s Conference 2023

Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary, speaking at Labour’s National Annual Women’s Conference 2023, said:

Good morning Ladies of Liverpool! 

It is an honour to stand here today, as your Deputy Leader, and look out at so many inspiring women. 

Let’s face it – sometimes it’s tiring being a woman in this world. 

Especially under a Tory Government! 

But that is why it falls upon us to continue the work the last Labour government started, standing side-by-side, so that all of us succeed in battling inequality, together.

I want to start today with a story. 

Picture the scene. 

A baby boy is born. 

Destined for Eton, or Harrow or Winchester. 

Then PPE at Oxford. 

When he walks into the Houses of Parliament he feels no imposter syndrome. 

Only the feeling that he is home. He is exactly where he should be.

He doesn’t struggle to make his voice heard. 

No hesitation to steal a well-made point and call it his own. 

On the other side of the country, a girl is growing up on a council estate. In poverty. 

Taught that women do certain things, and men do others. 

To put everyone else first. 

Overlooked, undervalued, underestimated. 

She’ll never walk in the corridors of Westminster.

It’s not the place for her. 

Only that isn’t what happens. 

She joins a union. 

She learns the power of workers coming together… to fight for more. 

A Labour Government introduces the minimum wage. She can afford more than one meal a day. 

A Labour government builds council houses. She gets the keys to her first home, to stability. 

A Labour government introduces the equal pay act. She gets a pay rise – enough so she can save. 

A Labour government builds a sure start centre at the end of her road, where she learns how to be a good mum. She meets other young mums and they find power in each other. 

And in the end, that girl goes from her council estate to the parliamentary estate!

Conference, like so many of us in this room today, I wouldn’t be standing here today without a Labour government. 

Labour is the Party of equality. Of the Equality Act. Of Equal Pay. Of Sure Start. 

I’m proud to say that in the Labour Party today, we now have more women MPs than men.

With Rachel’s eyes fixed on being the first woman Chancellor. 

We are turning the tide of history. 

But the battle isn’t won. There still aren’t enough women around the table. 

It is not enough for us to cling onto our seats and celebrate the fight it took to get us here. 

You only need to look at the horrific acts of powerful men abusing young women and hiding in plain sight. 

This is why the next Labour government will fight for every girl in this country to have a bright future. 

To stand up for every woman.

To break the glass ceiling and the class ceiling. 

Our New Deal for Working People will make work more family friendly, crack down on unfair pay and improve access to justice for those discriminated against at work. 

And as I was pleased to announce today Labour would properly tackle sexual harassment at work 

A shocking two-thirds of young women have been sexually harassed at work. This must change. 

That’s why the next Labour government will amend the Equalities Act to introduce a legal duty for employers to take all reasonable steps to stop sexual harassment before it starts. 

But that’s not all. 

We’ll make misogyny a hate crime, toughen sentences for perpetrators of rape and stalking, and halve the level of violence against women and girls. 

Women suffering the awful symptoms of menopause at work will get the support they deserve. 

We will empower women entrepreneurs. 

And we’ll tackle the crisis in women’s health by training 7,500 more doctors and 10,000 more nurses and midwives each year. 

When it comes to building a better future for women – we won’t just talk the talk. We’ll walk the walk. 

Because our lives, our careers, our futures depend on it. 

We can’t continue down the path we are on. 

Women unsafe on Britain’s streets. Two-thirds of us harassed in our workplaces. 

We must get into government and build on the legacy of the last Labour Government. We must get into government and continue the fight for equality. 

And Conference, Labour must get into government to give that young girl living in poverty her future back.

Now, without further ado.

I want to introduce one of the most formidable women in our movement.

She is working across our movement – the Shadow Cabinet, members and activists – to build on the legacy of the last Labour Government and empower women everywhere.

Anneliese Dodds.