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What’s happening with the Women’s Unit and Equality?


Funny old things seem to be happening within the Government’s Cabinet Office at the moment.

In the run-up to the election, the Head of the Women’s Unit of the Cabinet Office, Baroness Jay, stepped down from her post amidst behind the scenes murmerings that she was somewhat out of favour. Baroness Jay had come under increasing criticism particularly after spending some £100,000 to tell women looking for work to go to the Job Centre or look in the paper. Other criticism followed from reports that the unit was to monitor the number of fat people and thin people on television as part of investigations into eating disorders.

In the post-election re-shuffle, the Ms Sally Morgan has been appointed as a Minister of State in the Cabinet Office and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. As yet, the Cabinet Office website has to post its full listing of ministerial responsibilities.

Despite this, and the lack of Cabinet Office press releases on the matter, it is becoming apparent that Ms Morgan is the new Head of the Women’s Unit (as well as being appointed to the House of Lords) although formal clarification from the government is difficult to come by.

In a Telegraph article today, it seems that the Women’s Unit is undergoing a complete revision to become the “Women and Equality Unit”, with the emphasis to be placed on “Equality”. According to the Telegraph,

Labour hopes that retention of the name “women” in the title of the new unit will deflect criticism from women’s groups. These feared that the disappearance of the word would mean the disappearance of women’s issues from the agenda.

But the title more frequently used by ministers from now on will simply be the “equalities unit”.

Strangely however, reference to the Women’s Unit in the Cabinet Office remains unchanged on their website, whilst the link from the Cabinet Office introduction to the Women’s Unit actually points to the Social Exclusion Unit.

Should we read more into the fact that John Prescott heads up the Cabinet Office and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister?

see also ‘Any Answers’ who’s in charge of equal opps in the government now?

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