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What Can You Do in Just Three Minutes This International Women's Day That Could Change Lives for Women Across Britain?

07/03/2016 07:41 | Updated 08 March 2016

Three minutes. You can make yourself a cup of tea. Check your social media profile and update your status. Listen to a song on Spotify.

Or, you could log on to a Government website and register to vote.

Maybe you're thinking - why would I bother? It's yet another boring admin job, and what does voting really change anyway? What's in it for me?

Well tomorrow is International Women's Day, and we want to tell you why you should find just three minutes to register to vote - for the sake of women across this country.

We make up over half of the population - if we all voted, women could decide the next Government! But 34% of women did not turn out to vote at last year's election - and their voices went unheard. Perhaps we can persuade you to register to vote this year with a few facts about the effects of this Government's policies on women.

Women are more likely to work for less pay than men. More women work part-time and in low paid sectors, and are disproportionately affected by cuts to public services. The gender pay gap means that women in the UK take home just 81p for every £1 a man earns. This is well below the EU average - and at the current rate it will be another 47 years until the gap is closed!

The economy simply isn't working as it should for women under this Tory Government. Between 2010 and 2020, 81% of the savings made to the Treasury through tax and benefit changes will have come from the pockets of women. The gross mishandling of the acceleration of the state pension age for women born in the 1950s has already caused huge financial worries for 2.6 million women across the country - and far too many young women feel they can't possibly think about saving for retirement, because they struggle to make ends meet week to week.

What do all of these disadvantages have in common? Every single one of them could be addressed by the Government of the day. Instead, the Tories are content to ignore the effect their policies have had on women. In order to make them sit up and take notice, it is vital that women register to vote and make sure their voices are heard in May's elections.

But it is just as important that women have their say on the EU referendum coming up on 23rd June. It is the biggest decision our country has had to make in a generation and polling shows that up to a quarter of women are undecided about their vote, almost twice as many as men. Women could decide the result, but only if they are registered to vote.

Labour is clear that Britain is better off in Europe. The EU has been instrumental in improving women's rights at work. It guarantees equal pay, maternity and paternity rights, sick leave and time off for family emergencies. While we have a Tory Government which wants to erode workers' rights, such protections are all the more important.

Being in the EU brings us jobs, growth and investment, and makes consumers better off too. Our cooperation with other European nations makes Britain a safer place to live and allows us to respond more effectively to global threats like climate change and terrorism.

All this progress would be at risk if we voted to leave - that's why Labour are campaigning to stay in Europe.

And it's why we want to ask women all over the country to celebrate International Women Day tomorrow by registering to vote. It takes just three minutes at gov.uk/register-to-vote - and it could make all the difference to your bank balance. That's worth the wait for a cuppa...

Gloria De Piero is the shadow minister for young people and voter registration, and Labour MP for Ashfield
Kate Green is the shadow minister for women and equalities, and Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston

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