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Yvette Cooper MP, Labour's Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, speaking on International Women's Day, said:

"International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and to reflect on women’s progress, both in the UK and throughout the world.

"Over the years, we have celebrated growing equality for women - more women working in different fields, using their talents, supporting their families and tackling poverty.

“And I’m proud that a Labour government introduced a national minimum wage, helping women on low pay, as well as doubled maternity pay, extended maternity leave and introduced the right to request flexible working for those with caring responsibilities.

"Like my grandmother and mum before me, I’ve always assumed that every generation of women will enjoy greater opportunities than the last. But like many others, I now worry that the clock is being turned back, just at a time when we really need women’s experience and talent in the economy.

"We know that women are now paying almost three times as much as men to bring the deficit down. Yet women still earn less and own less than men. And with childcare, tax credits and child benefit being heavily hit by the Chancellor, it is mums who are particularly bearing the brunt of Government policies.

"From this April, new mums will also face a real terms cut to maternity pay – a new Mummy Tax – and at the same time, many women find that they are taking the strain as local services, like childcare or care for the elderly, are cut.

"That is deeply unfair. Government ministers need to understand we will not stand by while they increase inequality and give women such a bad deal.

"Today, as we celebrate women’s progress on International Women’s Day, we must also remember to stand fast and stop the progress we have seen being undermined. And we must look to the future and demand the greater equality women should be entitled to, in the interests of all."

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