To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, Munira used her voice in Parliament to highlight the impact of spiralling childcare costs on women’s participation in the workforce and the growing gender pay gap in the UK.
Kicking off the day, Munira challenged the Minister for Women, Maria Caulfield, on that fact that an eighteen-year-old woman entering the workforce in the UK today will not see gender pay equality in her lifetime. A key factor in this is the “motherhood penalty” – the loss in earnings and career progression women experience when starting a family.
In the debate that followed on education investment, Munira again raised the huge hit to lifelong earnings that the average mother takes after having a child. The lack of affordable childcare in the UK has a significant impact on women, with their earnings taking a 40% hit after their first baby is born and never fully recovering.
As Spokesperson for Education, Munira laid out the Liberal Democrat plan for flexible, affordable and fair childcare, including calls for the Government to expand the off of free childcare to every child aged between two and four all year round, as well as to children aged nine to 24 months where both parents are in work.
The Spring Budget, which was announced by the Chancellor a week after International Women’s Day, includes a number of reforms to childcare provision in the UK. Amongst the measures were an expansion of 30 hours of free childcare to every child over the age of 9 months by September 2025. Reacting to new policy, Munira said:
“At the last election, Liberal Democrats committed to funding childcare for all two-to-four-year-olds, and from nine months where both parents are in work, so it’s promising to see the Chancellor taking a leaf out of our manifesto. That being said, the support falls short of the 35 hours per week for 48 weeks of the year Liberal Democrats recognise full-time workers need.
“The funding for these hours will also not cover nurseries’ costs. Childcare is vital for parents and our economy, yet the Chancellor is continuing to do it on the cheap. Parents can’t use these new extra hours if they aren’t funded properly, and it causes their local nursery to shut. The new support announced for nurseries and childminders is a fraction of what they will need to stay afloat.
“Liberal Democrats know that investing in our children’s future means not only expanding free childcare but paying providers properly and boosting our early years workforce.”