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UK cabinet reshuffled against women

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Sarah McAlpine
WVoN co-editor

UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, reshuffled his cabinet yesterday in a series of moves widely considered have the hand of George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, at its heart.

The shuffle saw Jeremy Hunt promoted from Secretary of State for Culture, to that of Health. His successor is Maria Miller, who not only takes on the position of Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Sport and Media, but also Minister for Women and Equalities.

What we at Women’s Views on News are not quite sure about, is what precisely qualifies Hunt for Health or Miller for Equalities.

Hunt, most recently remembered for his embarrassment in front of the Leveson Inquiry, which led to calls for his resignation, has come under fire for his record on voting to reduce access to abortion, his support of homeopathic medicine and his calls for the National Health Service to be dismantled.

Hunt has voted in favour of several unsuccessful bills regarding abortion including one that would have the legal limit halved from 24 to 12 weeks despite the 24 week limit being widely supported by scientific evidence and the medical community.

Diane Abbott, shadow health minister, has said that Hunt’s, “record on women’s right to choose is really concerning.” She believes that a key test of Hunt’s appointment will be if he moves to drop current plans that would, “allow anti-choice organisations to give counselling to women.”

Maria Miller’s promotion to her post has also been under scrutiny. As well as voting for a reduction to a 20 week limit for abortion, the MP for Basingstoke has voted in favour of denying counselling to women with unwanted pregnancies. Miller has also voted against gay marriage and gay adoption rights.

Despite David Cameron’s pre-election pledge to appoint a third of top jobs to women, the number of women in his cabinet has slipped from 5 to 4 in a total of 31 positions available. So far, David Cameron has secured the UK’s poor ranking of 57th in the world when it comes to women’s representation in government.

The reshuffle was neatly summed up by Labour MP Pat Glass, who tweeted: “Cameron’s new cabinet – 85% men, 100% white, 70% Oxbridge, 100% wealthy. #wereallinthistogether.”

On the back of this, UK Feminista have announced that they are building for a feminist lobby of parliament on 24th October 2012. See you there.

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