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Dawn Butler takes aim at the gender pay gap

PASSIONATE: Dawn Butler MP is targeting the gender pay gap

BRENT MP and new Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Dawn Butler has revealed how she hopes to tack- le the “old boys’ network” in many areas of British society. Butler takes over from Sarah Champion, who resigned last month.

Announcing the appointment, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Dawn is a great champion for women, equality for all and our country’s diverse communities. I look forward to working closely with her to advance our agenda of a truly equal society that works for the many not the few.”

In an interview with The Voice, Butler said: “I was pleased to already be part of the Shadow Cabinet with the important role of Shadow Minister for Diverse Communities, but it was a great honour to be given this promotion by Jeremy Corbyn.”

One of the first orders of business for the MP will be to address the disparity between men’s and women’s wages. “There is no doubt that the gender pay gap is a huge obstacle for women,” she said. “We need to fix this as soon as possible by getting to a place where women are given the same recognition for their hard work as men.”

She continued: “Intersectionality is another huge problem we must tackle. It has become my new favourite word and while it takes a while to get used to, it is to me all about women in all their different forms – black, white, disabled, rich, poor, working class, middle class, overweight and underweight. It is about everything you can think of."

OBSTACLE

“For some women this may be their greatest obstacle to success and this is about the way in which discrimination interacts with different facets, meaning that women can be discriminated against many times over.” Butler added: “Equality is equality, you cannot pick and choose. I will fight against all forms of discrimination with all my determination and will seek to deliver real equality in our country.”

Butler is all too aware of the value of using her heritage and culture to add a balanced perspective to parliamentary conversations that will ultimately affect all women in Britain; many of whom feel that they remain voiceless.

STRONG

She said: “Later this month, the Labour Party Women’s Conference is taking place. “Being a black woman in this role, I see the problems through a different lens. This means that people should expect some tough, dif- ficult and perhaps awkward questions, particularly about intersectionality.”

Often described as an inspiration for black and minority ethnic women as someone who works in a male-dominated environment, Butler opened-up about how she navigates discrimination. She said: “Unfortunately, there is an old boys’ network which women have to navigate their way through and a white women’s network which women of colour have to navigate."

“Then there’s the, ‘Are you middle class?’ network and the university network. Another issue I face is that I may be described as ‘forceful’ or even aggressive for saying something, while others are described as ‘passionate’ for saying the same thing."

“Many people may also be aware of the time when I was in a lift in the House of Commons and was told by a Tory MP that the lift wasn’t for cleaners.” She continued: “I have fought many battles against racism and sexism at work just like so many others – some public, and some which I have kept private, and some I will one day put in a book."

“This is why so many people feel that they are living in an unequal society and it must end.”

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