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 Liberal Democrats - led by Jo Swinson - highlight the five most important policies in their manifesto for women just like you. Read up to discover if the Lib Dems' priorities match up with your own (and then click here to read the Labour Party and the Conservative Party manifestos, decoded).
The Liberal Democrats' manifesto for young women:
1. Boost free childcare to transform the lives of parents and children across the UK
The Liberal Democrats say:
Today’s high cost of childcare means that too many parents are unable to return to work without risking real financial hardship. With the average cost of 25 hours nursery care for a child under two running to more than £6500 per year, many parents are effectively excluded from work due to the burden of childcare costs.
The Liberal Democrats will provide free, high-quality childcare for every child aged two to four, for 35 hours a week, 48 weeks a year. The offer is extended to children aged between 9 and 24 months where their parents are in work. The Liberal Democrats will also make sure that childcare providers are adequately funded, increasing the rates paid by government to match the actual cost of nursery provision. This will be funded by fair tax changes, ensuring that big businesses pay their share, and aligning the tax treatment of income from wealth with income from work.
Liberal Democrat plans to transform the provision of early years support are at the heart of the Party’s plans to build a brighter future for the next generation.
In the words of Jo Swinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats:
"For so many people, the cost of childcare makes returning to work impossible. We all know a family member or friend - usually a woman - who has given up work to stay at home, missing out on years of work experience, and opportunities for promotion and pay rises.
"This hurts our economy and deprives our workforce of a vital pool of talent, as well as contributing to inequality in the workplace, including the gender pay gap.
"That is why Liberal Democrats are proposing a transformational change to our economy, by providing working parents with free childcare from when their child is 9 months old. This will close the gap between the end of paid parental leave and the start of free childcare provision."
2. Fighting for a world free from discrimination and prejudice
The Liberal Democrats say:
Equalities are at the heart of the Liberal Democrats plan to build a brighter future for everyone. The Liberal Democrats have a strong record of success when it comes to fighting prejudice and inequality. From introducing equal marriage, to making up-skirting a specific offence, or tightening the laws around revenge porn, the Liberal Democrats are determined to make our society fairer and free from intolerance.
- End period poverty by removing VAT on sanitary products and providing them for free in schools, hospitals, hostels, shelters, libraries, leisure centres, stadiums, GP surgeries, food banks, colleges and universities.
- Scrap the so-called ‘Pink Tax’, ending the gender price gap.
- Require schools to introduce gender-neutral uniform policies and break down outdated perceptions of gender appropriateness of certain subjects.
The Liberal Democrats also launched a plan for Equalities and Human Rights – the plan is at the heart of the party’s vision to build a brighter future for everyone. This included policies such as:
- Tackling the rise in hate crimes by making them all aggravated offences
- Providing funding for protective security measures to places of worship, schools and community centres that are vulnerable to hate crime and terror attacks
- Complete the introduction of equal marriage
- Reduce the overrepresentation of people from BAME backgrounds throughout the criminal justice system
In the words of Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Women and Equalities:
"People should be able to live their lives free from discrimination or intrusion and without fear of having their most fundamental rights violated. But this is not the reality in the UK today.
"The Liberal Democrats have a proud record in fighting for equality, from equal marriage to campaigning against upskirting and the pink tax, but we have so much further to go.
"The Conservatives and Labour have entirely failed to stand up to hatred or combat entrenched inequalities.
"Liberal Democrats have a vision for the UK where everyone’s rights and liberties are protected, and our diversity celebrated. Our vision for a brighter future is one free from discrimination and intolerance.
"That is why the Liberal Democrats will ensure that all hate crimes are considered aggravated offences, reduce the overrepresentation of people from BAME backgrounds throughout the criminal justice system and require schools to introduce gender-neutral uniform policies.
"Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a government with equality at the heart of its agenda and a brighter future."
3. Britain deserves a world-class education system
The Liberal Democrats say:
The Liberal Democrats announced plans to spend £10 billion more a year on schools and hire 20,000 more teachers by the end of the next Parliament.
- By 2024/25, the party will spend £10.6 billion more on schools than in 2019/20.
- Liberal Democrats will use this money to boost teaching numbers by 20,000 over five years. A Liberal Democrat government will attract and retain teachers by increasing starting salaries to £30,000 and guaranteeing all teachers a pay rise of at least 3% a year over the next Parliament.
- The funding also includes an increase in support for children with special educational needs or a disability, and money to provide high-quality professional development for teachers.
In the words of Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary:
"Our schools should be world class, but instead our schools are trailing behind. Teaching assistants are being sacked and schools are closing early to balance the books. The Tories have cut school funding and children have paid the price, especially those with the most complex needs.
"Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future for our children. By stopping Brexit, we can spend £10 billion a year more on schools and recruit 20,000 more teachers to give every child the skills they need to succeed in life."
4. Our mental health services are in crisis
The Liberal Democrats say:
Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Liberal Democrats will give the NHS and social care services the necessary funding by putting a penny in the pound on income tax. Ringfencing funding for mental health will give a cash injection of £11 billion fund over the next Parliament putting more investment into services such as:
- Child and adolescent mental health
- Matching waiting time standards to those in physical health
- Expanding our mental health workforce
Providing real parity between mental and physical health care is critical. We want to make prescriptions for people with chronic mental health conditions available for free on the NHS, as is the case for conditions such as cancer and diabetes. The Liberal Democrats have also pledged their commitment to transform mental health services in the UK by creating a binding Student Mental Health Charter. This will require all universities to guarantee access to high quality mental health services for their students.
In the words of Luciana Berger, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care:
"Our country is in the grip of a mental health crisis. Too many people across the UK are struggling with their mental health and aren't receiving the support they need.
"Liberal Democrats want to achieve real equality between mental and physical health. We want to address mental health with the same urgency that we do physical health. To do this we will drastically reduce waiting times, by providing proper funding to our services, and remove prescription costs for those with chronic mental health conditions.
"The Liberal Democrats are the party of mental health. We have the most detailed plan to improve mental health services and we will commit £11 billion over five years to make these changes. This is at the heart of our plan to build a brighter future for all."
5. Tackling the climate emergency before its too late
The Liberal Democrats say:
The Liberal Democrats have a bold plan for a new Green Future that tackles the climate emergency with the urgency required. Our first priorities in the next parliament will be:
- Investing in renewable power so that at least 80 per cent of UK electricity is generated from renewables by 2030 – and banning fracking for good.
- Protecting nature and the countryside, tackling biodiversity loss and planting 60 million trees a year to absorb carbon, protect wildlife and improve health.
- Investing in public transport, electrifying Britain’s railways and ensuring that all new cars are electric by 2030.
In the words of Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change:
"The Climate Emergency is here and now. The UK can't afford another Conservative government that looks the other way and continues to rely on fossil fuels.
"The Liberal Democrats have a clear ambitious plan to cut most carbon emissions by 2030 and get to net zero by 2045. We will do this by investing £100 billion over the next parliament to transform our country away from our dependency on fossil fuels. We want Britain to be once again a world leader in the production of renewables, plant 60 million trees every year, and work with our international partners to ensure that collectively we meet our legally binding UN targets.
"We must act to save our boiling planet. The consequences are too great otherwise."
Read the Liberal Democrats' manifesto in full here.
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