The General Election is just days away and, while most people have good intentions to vote, it can be difficult to cut through all the noise and work out exactly which party's policies you most align with.
Each party's manifesto is an extensive document containing numerous promises for the future, but we wanted to get to the heart of it: what are the key ways in which the three main parties intend to improve the lives of today's young women?
Here, the Labour Party - led by Jeremy Corbyn - highlights the five most important policies in its manifesto for women just like you. Read up to discover if Labour's priorities match up with your own (and then click here to read the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats' manifestos, decoded).
The Labour Party's manifesto for young women:
1. Create a safer society for women
Violence against women is one of the most widespread and persistent human rights violations in our society. Shockingly, Conservative cuts have meant funding for refuges has fallen by 24% since 2010, even though demand has increased. Labour will set new standards for tackling domestic and sexual abuse and violence, appointing a Commissioner for Violence against Women and Girls alongside a National Refuge Fund to fund rape crisis centres so that no one is turned away.
We’ll make misogyny and violence against women and girls a hate crime as an immediate priority, and reintroduce a Domestic Abuse Bill, something the Conservatives failed to do in the last parliament.
Labour will launch a review into shamefully low rape prosecution rates and improve the safety of the family court system for domestic violence victims, banning their cross-examination by their abuser. And we’ll tackle the increasing threat of online harassment and abuse by introducing protections for victims of so-called ‘revenge porn’.
In the words of Dawn Butler, Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary:
"Violence against women is a hidden killer and remains at epidemic levels. No woman or girl should have to live a life of fear. Labour will challenge the deep-rooted misogyny that leads to gender-based violence and abuse and still permeates our society."
2. Close the Gender Pay Gap by 2030
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act but shockingly, the gender pay gap is still over 13%. At the current rate, the Fawcett Society says it will take 60 years to close the gender pay gap. This is totally unacceptable, so Labour will fine organisations that fail to report their gender pay and require all large employers get a certificate of gender equality, or face further fines and government action.
We’ll boost women’s pay through a Real Living Wage of £10 for all workers from age 16, helping increase the pay of low paid workers like health workers and carers. And to open the workplace more fully to women, Labour will ensure that flexible work is available to everyone, meaning more roles to women who may have childcare or other responsibilities outside work. We will also extend paid maternity leave to 12 months (which can also be shared with a partner). And we’ll end period poverty and the stigma still associated with the menopause by ensuring all employers have workplace policies on both.
In the words of Laura Pidcock, Shadow Employment Rights Secretary:
"Labour in government will be uncompromising in tackling the structural barriers that are holding so many women back. Employers will no longer be able to treat the issue of the gender pay gap as an afterthought. Instead, they will be expected to take proactive steps to close it. But it isn't enough just to regulate. Labour will transform workplace culture by giving workers much stronger powers to have their voices heard at work and in the economy, so they can take back control of their lives"
3. Introduce a National Education System
Labour’s National Education Service will provide support and opportunities to people at every stage of life. From opening 1,000 new Sure Start centres and providing 30 hours of free childcare to all 2-4 year olds in every community, to poverty-proofing our schools and reinstating an Education Maintenance Allowance, education will be truly universal.
Education is a right, so we’ll ensure it is accessible to everyone by scrapping tuition fees and creating a free entitlement to education, meaning people can access it at a time that suits them, whenever that may be.
In the words of Angela Rayner, Shadow Education Secretary:
"Education transforms lives. We will make it free throughout your life, from high-quality nursery schooling to adult education. We will scrap tuition fees that have left young people getting into debts today of over £55,000, and fully reverse the Tory cuts to our schools."
4. Deliver a Green Industrial Revolution
This year saw the blossoming of a global movement calling on politicians to wake up and act on the climate and environmental emergency, with the young female activist Greta Thunberg so powerfully spearheading the school climate strikes. Labour welcomed that movement and, as a government in waiting, we have turned its demands into detailed, credible plans for real change.
We're investing all we can to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030, working with the scientific community and trade unions, making sure our plans are credible, realistic and don't leave anyone behind. From providing interest free loans for electric cars to upgrading every house in the country to boost energy efficiency, we'll ensure that the transition to a green economy improves living standards for the many, creating a million green jobs. We will also fund 320,000 climate apprenticeships with targeted bursaries for women.
In the words of Rebecca Long Bailey, Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary:
"Government intervention to rapidly decarbonise our economy and push aside decades of neoliberal policy to create the industries of the future needs to be a priority. Climate change will affect us all, we need to act now before it's too late. Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution will not only tackle climate change, but will jumpstart a home-grown renewable energy industry."
5. Extend democracy
Labour has more women MPs than all other political parties put together, and under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership the party has a gender-balanced shadow cabinet, ensuring women are always at the top table. Labour fundamentally believes in democracy, and in making parliament less pale, male and stale.
Labour will extend voting rights to all UK residents, and make voting simple, introducing a system of automatic voter registration so that everyone entitled to can vote, and removing unnecessary barriers like voter ID. Young people have led the way on fighting the climate emergency and we will introduce votes at 16 so young people’s voices are not ignored.
In the words of Cat Smith, Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs and Voter:
"Millions of people do not have the opportunity to shape the future of this country because they are not register to vote, especially young people, renters and mobile groups, and those from an ethnic minority background.
"We will take radical steps to ensure every eligible voter can have their say and introduce a system of automatic registration. We will also ensure that young people have a say on the issues that affect them by extending votes to 16-year-olds."
Read the Labour Party's manifesto in full here.
Follow Cat on Twitter.
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