Women have made significant advances towards equality in the UK and around the world, but this has had to be fought for and won by generations of women, often in the face of incredible resistance and even abuse.
Labour has an excellent record on progressing women’s rights and freedoms, having introduced the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, the Equality Act, the Minimum Wage and introduced the Sure Start programme.
As a Labour MEP, in the European Parliament I was proud to vote for legislation that will help protect millions of workers from exploitative working conditions, especially benefitting low paid women workers.
The next Labour Government, led by Jeremy Corbyn, will be a government for women, with a cabinet of at least 50% women, which fights inequality and misogyny in every part of society. Sadly, until a General Election is called, it is left to the Tories who have a track record of making things worse for the sick, the vulnerable, the low-paid and reinforcing the often-precarious position of women in society.
So here are five ways the UK Government could immediately change women's lives for the better:
This is an entire generation of women who have been disadvantaged in the workplace with unfair employment practices, unfair pay levels and little access to employment support.
And now they face the final indignity of being told they must work for many more years just to receive the pensions they should have been entitled to from the start.
The retroactive delay to their pensions is unfair, unjustifiable and must be rectified.
Sure Start centres give help and advice to parents and carers on family health, money issues and provide vital childcare for pre-school children.
Extend the current levels of free part-time childcare for 3 and 4 year olds to include all 2 year olds, not just those children whose parents are on certain qualifying benefits. 30 hours a week is a minimum and we must also move towards making some childcare available for 1 year olds.
We must also increase childcare availability by introducing subsidised childcare to make it more affordable and move towards employing graduates in childcare by increasing wages and improving training.
In the UK, two women are killed by their current or former partner every week. This is unacceptable.
But it isn’t merely a UK issue. Violence against women and girls is a global epidemic and it has to stop.
I have been fighting to tackle the scourge of domestic violence as part of my work in the European Parliament and will always argue for better provision of services in this area.
Unfortunately, with one in three women affected worldwide and reporting rates rising in the UK, under the Conservatives, over a third of all local authority funding to domestic and sexual violence services was already cut by 2012.
The UK Government should appoint a new commissioner to enforce minimum standards in tackling domestic and sexual violence. A Violence Against Women Commissioner would also provide stable central funding for women’s refuges and rape crisis centres and encourage sharing of best practice between local authorities.
Women are among the most at risk workers for exploitation with issues like the gender pay gap, childcare and lack of flexible working hours.
We must not let employers get away with abusing workers with shoddy contracts and poor pay.
All workers deserve decent working conditions, to know their rights, when they have to work and what their salary will be.
We need to do more to ensure that girls’ aspirations are not narrowed while at school, by putting in place face-to-face careers advice that helps all young people to achieve their full potential.
Measures that tackle poverty help everyone, which is why class sizes must never be greater than 30, and free school meals should be provided to all pupils, not just those who suffer the stigma of means testing.
There should be no barrier to education either, EMA must be reintroduced and university tuition fees must be abolished.