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David Cameron appoints fifth woman member of cabinet

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Summary of story from The Independent, October 15, 2011

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed Justine Greening as Transport Secretary, making her the fifth woman member of a cabinet team of 23.

She has earned a reputation as a robust performer, driving home the government’s message that Labour’s caution over spending cuts would force interest rates up and endanger the recovery.

Ms Greening entered parliament in 2005 as MP for Putney and within months was appointed as a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for youth.

In July 2007, she was appointed as a shadow Treasury minister, before being moved by Mr Cameron in January 2009 to the post of shadow minister for communities and local government. For the past 17 months Ms Greening has held the position of economic secretary at the Treasury.

Ms Greening was the youngest female Conservative MP until Chloe Smith – who now replaces her as economic secretary – won the Norwich North by-election in 2009 at the age of 27.

WVoN comment: Although it is great to see a woman promoted to the cabinet, it’s important to remember that both the cabinet (and parliament) are dominated by men, in a government whose budget cuts disproportionately affect women and who preside over a 15 year high in women’s unemployment.

  1. What a very strange comment as a post script to a good news story about women. Is WVoN a site for news about women, or is it a site for news about women, but only from one political perspective?

    What happens when women’s unemployment goes down, will WVoN trumpet the success of coalition policies?

    • I don’t think it’s a strange comment at all. Samantha’s comment comes from her concerns about the coalition policies, which she has every right to write about, in a way that draws attention to the fact that though there are 5 women in the cabinet, there are millions of women not in the cabinet who are being massively negatively affected by the government’s policies.

      As you can tell from the breadth of stories that we cover on the site, we don’t only cover stories from one perspective. There are a range of comments and opinions from co-editors on a massive variety of topics.

      From my personal point of view, if the government announce on Monday that they’re redesigning their policies and changing their priorities so that people are put before profit, I might start thinking about starting to trust them.

  2. Charlotte, the point is that appointing a woman to a cabinet that is systematically destroying the lives of other women is not a good news story – in this case, gender really is irrelevant. However, if Ms Greening fights the cuts that disproportionally affects women, then WVoN would certainly celebrate this. Not holding our breath though.

    • 🙂 so gender is relevant only when you that decide it is?! Riiiiight.

      This story is about gender! The comments is an anti-government rant which is unconnected with the story.

      Your comment and the other above demonstrate exactly what is wrong with the debate around women. It is horribly one-sided.

      • How is Samantha’s comment is an anti-government rant?

        Don’t get me wrong, I like a good rant, if it was a rant I would support it just as much as I support what it is.

        What it is, is a short comment that balances out the appointment of Justine Greening with a note, including two links to other sources, about government support for social and economic policies that disproportionately affect women. Which is exactly what she’s written below.

        How is that one sided? She was providing balance.

        As for my earlier comment and Jane’s above, if you consider a polite rebuttal to be exactly what’s wrong with the debate about women, I can only wonder what shape you’re hoping the debate about women to take?

        I’m not entirely sure why you’re commenting on a feminist site, is it merely to criticise?

        • I comment to understand the landscape better and to draw out arguments.

          I have come to the debate around women fairly recently and have been shocked by what I find. The debate seems very polarised, and often not about women at all – women are being used as a political football – and there are pressing issues affecting women which aren’t being discussed at all.

          • Jane Da Vall says:

            If you are keen to draw out the arguments, Charlotte, there is one you appear to have wandered away from on the other thread.

        • Jane Da Vall says:

          I think it is good to see women disagreeing on gender issues. The newsblogs are so overrun with misogynists, it is rare to see a discussion between women at all, let alone a disagreement. I am also quite new to feminist debate and am surprised by the polarity of it. Even more, I am alarmed by the absence of women.  The conversation is being had everywhere almost entirely by misogynists, divorced men who got the wrong end of a custody order, the odd kindred woman and a large number of female impersonators, who imagine their splenetic ranting will be more persuasive coming from a woman. 

          I am amazed by the hostility toward women I find everywhere that gender relations are up for debate.  The hostility toward men I find almost wholly imagined. What online anonymity only partly conceals, is a conversation being had between men, responding to what they imagine the other side of the debate to be. It starts like this – ‘All men are rapists’.   This statement comes up all the time and is almost never said by a self-identifying feminist. This is the polarity tbat pervades the blogs and it is a fiction.

          However, I don’t like to criticise a feminist article published in such an environment, except to say they should not be publishing in such an environment.  My objection would just disappear in to, and add a sliver of substance to, the avalanche of knee-jerk hostility. 

          There is plenty I find to criticise about mainstream feminism and I would like to be able to do so. I doubt they are the same things that Charlotte objects to, but I believe she has an interest, if possibly fleeting, in the debate. An important aspect of a site like this must be to provide space for women to disagree.

        • Jane Da Vall says:

          I think it is good to see women disagreeing on gender issues. The newsblogs are so overrun with misogynists, it is rare to see a discussion between women at all, let alone a disagreement. I am also quite new to feminist debate and am surprised by the polarity of it. Even more, I am alarmed by the absence of women. The conversation is being had everywhere almost entirely by misogynists, divorced men who got the wrong end of a custody order, the odd kindred woman and a large number of female impersonators, who imagine their splenetic ranting will be more persuasive coming from a woman.

          I am amazed by the hostility toward women I find everywhere that gender relations are up for debate. The hostility toward men I find almost wholly imagined. What online anonymity only partly conceals, is a conversation being had between men, responding to what they imagine the other side of the debate to be. It starts like this – ‘All men are rapists’. This statement comes up all the time and is almost never said by a self-identifying feminist. This is the polarity tbat pervades the blogs and it is a fiction.

          However, I don’t like to criticise a feminist article published in such an environment, except to say they should not be publishing in such an environment. My objection would just disappear in to, and add a sliver of substance to, the avalanche of knee-jerk hostility.

          There is plenty I find to criticise about mainstream feminism and I would like to be able to do so. I doubt they are the same things that Charlotte objects to, but I believe she has an interest, if possibly fleeting, in the debate. An important aspect of a site like this must be to provide space for women to disagree.

      • Although I am entirely capable of going on an anti-government rant, my comment was not that.

        You seem to be suggesting that I was making a party political point, however I don’t believe that Labour (or any other party for that matter) would better represent women in numbers or actions.

        I see a clear link between commenting on the gender of cabinet members and the gender impact of their actions.

        I would be interested to know how you feel about impact of cuts upon women, do you deny that they are unfair and disproportionate or that government could do anything more to help women?

        • The cuts aren’t being targeted at women. Women happen to be more likely to be on the other end of government spending, which necessarily has be be reduced.

          So, my question is why are women’s incomes and their needs more dependent on the government than those of men and what can we do to achieve a better balance to ensure this unforeseen consequence does not happen again?

          • Charlotte are you seriously asking us to believe that the disproportionate impact of the cuts on women was unforeseen? Because if this is the case, then shame on this government for not thoroughly researching the impact of its decisions before making them.

          • Jane is right – unforeseen is the wrong word – let’s use unintended. The point remains though and I would love to hear a response.

  3. I felt that in an article that was about her appointment, but more broadly about women’s representation it was worth qualifying an excellent step for female political representation with the reality that cabinet and parliament are dominated by men. Since its possible that these men may represent women’s issues I felt it necessary to also point out that this government are not; women’s unemployment is fact and there are several excellent reports documenting the effects of budget cuts on women.

    I would be very happy to write a story about the government taking steps to reverse women’s unemployment figures and making these cuts fairer to women.

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