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Equal Pay Is Not About Money and Wages - It Is About Worth

02/07/2015 10:10 BST | Updated 01/07/2016 10:59 BST

This week I didn't behave well. Really bad in fact. I mean I slow clapped the home secretary as she headed for her lobby. I then followed it with, what I will call a robust exchange, with the minister for women and equalities Nicky Morgan across the chamber.

If my mom was still alive she might have slapped my legs for my breaches. On this occasion though I think she may have joined me. Because my mom, the mother of three sons, and me her only daughter, whispered in my ear every day from birth, "there's nothing they can do that you can't."

This Wednesday in Parliament the talk was of equal pay. The opposition put in front of the Government the motion to task the Equalities and Human Rights Commission with performing an 'Annual Equal Pay Check' to collate and analyse information published and recommend actions to ensure we close the gender pay gap this generation. Now I know this is not the ground breaking work of Barbara Castle and the Dagenham women. But it would help to hold businesses to account for their actions on the gender pay gap. It would have said "you know the fact that for every pound a man earns a women earns only 83p (in my constituency) well we know that sucks"

We all sat on those green benches and said how very important it was. Those on the Government benches congratulated themselves on how far we had come. Some way through the debate I had the horrid sinking realisation that they didn't care. Now they often don't care about what I do, that's fine we are all different. But this... gender equality... not caring about that... well that made me behave badly.

I have spent my career working with women who have been beaten, raped and exploited. What all failed to understand in the debate, is that women are beaten and raped exactly because they have less value in society. To me it was not about money and wages it was about worth. So as the government marched through the no lobby it felt like we women were worthless. So who can we blame when this week two of us, the worthless, are murdered?

When the votes were declared and we lost, I lost it. And Nicky Morgan laughed at me. She stared across and gloated because I was upset. But I remain unapologetically upset. Maybe if she had wiped the blood off a women who was left for dead she wouldn't laugh.

Today I shall sit in the cupboard in Parliament where Emily Wilding Davison the suffragette hid to show her worth. I shall whisper, "there's nothing you can't do." Then I'll step out in to that fancy Palace of Westminster and know that those around me think I don't matter quite so much. And so I'll keep behaving badly.

Jess Phillips is the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley