Glaring omissions made during lockdown due to lack of women in Cabinet: Nokes

The chair of the Women and Equalities Committee said women had been ‘forgotten’ at times during the pandemic.

Former immigration minister Caroline Nokes
Former immigration minister Caroline Nokes

The Prime Minister needs to appoint more women to the Cabinet to ensure female issues are not “forgotten”, according to a former Tory minister.

Caroline Nokes MP, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, said the question of childcare was a “glaring omission” during the first lockdown last year which ministers failed to pick up on.

The backbencher, who has previously accused Boris Johnson’s administration of having a “very blokey mentality”, wants a “gender balanced Cabinet” leading the Government to ensure women’s issues get more of a look in.

Speaking to Parliamentary Radio before International Women’s Day on Monday, Ms Nokes said: “The glaring omission when we went into the first lockdown this time last year was about women and childcare.

“Formal childcare settings were shut and informal childcare, granny and grandpa looking after children, was banned. For many women it was not possible to work from home.

“We need Government ministers in the Cabinet to look at things through a lens that includes women. We are 51% of the electorate –  we cannot be forgotten.

“We don’t have enough women in the Cabinet who are shouting out and standing up for women.”

The ex-immigration minister has become an outspoken advocate for the women-dominated beauty sector in recent months.

She criticised the decision last year to delay nail bars being allowed to reopen following the easing of the first lockdown.

Ex-minister has accused Boris Johnson of running a 'blokey' Government
Ex-minister has accused Boris Johnson of running a ‘blokey’ Government (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

In an article for the Conservative Home website, Ms Nokes pointed to businesses such as nail bars and pilates studios being unable to reopen on so-called “super Saturday” in July.

And even when beauty salons were given the green light to reopen, they were still banned from carrying out eyelash treatments and facials while men were permitted to have their beards trimmed.

She told Parliament Radio: “Beauty is not trivial – it is about wellbeing.

“My hairdresser and manicurist act as my therapist when I sit in their chair, they perform a crucial role in society.

“It employees over 300,000 people, mostly women. I am passionate about the sector and have made friends and allies in it over the past 12 months.”

Ms Nokes, in comments made in an interview with former home secretary Amber Rudd for The House magazine, said a Labour MP previously “laid his hands on me in a really inappropriate way”, and she compared Parliament to a “prep school”.

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