You might be shocked to find out that women make up only 32% of MPs in Parliament — which is a significant difference from their male counterparts. TRUE Solicitors, experts in accident at work claims, have had a look at the strong women of the past and present to see how they influenced politics and pioneered the laws that we have in place today.
It is important to understand the fight that women had to endure to get their voices heard. With the immense willingness and hardship women faced, here are some of the laws that we have in place because of women:
The Transport Act 1968
Barbara Castle was one of the most prominent women in politics of her time, she acted as Minister of Transport from 1965 to 1968 and during this time, she made revolutionary changes that we now take for granted. Ironically, Barbara could not drive and this was something that other politicians would poke fun at — questioning her ability to make informative decisions on transportation matters in Parliament.
One of her most memorable achievements from her time as Minister of Transport, was passing the legislation that meant that every new car would need to be fitted with seatbelts. This piece of legislation is something that Barbara was extremely proud of and it will have saved a lot of lives when it came into action in 1983 for front-seat passengers, although it took until 1989 for rear-seat passengers. According to THINK!, you’re twice as likely to die in a car accident if you’re not wearing a seatbelt which is why we’ve always been told to wear our seatbelts.
Other monumental implementations that were made by Barbara were the breathalyser, after the drink-driving crisis grew in the UK, as well as the permanent 70MPH speed limit on motorways.
Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence Act 2017
Something that has been close to the heart of now Prime Minister, Theresa May, since she was Home Secretary under David Cameron’s Conservative government is violence against women in Britain. This piece of legislation has stopped victims being interrogated by abusers in court and reduces the risk of policing authorities dealing inconsistently with such cases.
Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003
According to the NSPCC, there are 137,000 women and girls affected by female genital mutilation (FGM) in England and Wales. This is far more than I would have expected as I didn’t realise it was such an issue in the UK. The legislation was introduced by Baroness Rendell of Babergh within the House of Lords Bill 1998. Although it was illegal at the time, this act made it illegal for UK nationals to perform FGM outside of the UK borders — the penalty for doing so increased from 5 to 14 years imprisonment.
Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act
Looking at recent government statistics, for every 100 people in the UK, one person identifies as gay or lesbian — and Lynne Featherstone put this at the top of her agenda when she was the Liberal Democrat Minister for Equalities during the 2010 coalition government. With her encouragement, the government announced that it would carry out a consultation into how to introduce civil marriages for same-sex couples, which was a big change in British politics. This legislation was passed in January 2013 and would have not been possible without Featherstone’s stance and determination. Thanks to this, so many more people have been able to marry the people that they love.
Domestic, Crime and Victims Bill 2004
Vera Baird was a prominent figure in the Labour party from 2001 until 2010, but was recently recognised for her efforts for bringing awareness to domestic violence in the UK. Domestic violence has always been a big issue but Vera has been working hard to bring awareness to it and to help to put a stop to it, Once this legislation was passed, she constantly worked around it to ensure that it covered all areas — which led to common assault becoming arrestable, which allowed police to arrest at the scene of the crime.
These are just some of the laws pushed forward by women — and there will be plenty more to come as more women make their way into the Houses of Parliament.