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Welsh MP praises Commons Speaker for leading by example with Menopause Pledge

12 Jun 2022 3 minute read
Picture by Richard Townshend (CC BY 3.0).

A Welsh Labour MP is among those signing a pledge to “break the taboo” of menopause as the House of Commons strives to become a “menopause friendly” employer.

Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Menopause, will be supporting Sir Lindsay Hoyle as he signs the Menopause Workplace Pledge.

Launched by the Wellbeing of Women charity, the pledge will commit the House of Commons Service to recognising, talking about and supporting women employees going through the menopause.

Ms Harris has long campaigned for better conditions and recognition of the challenges women in menopause face, as well as tackling the current shortages of HRT and advocating for the reduction in HRT prescription costs.

Along with fellow high profile campaigners Mariella Frostrup, Penny Lancaster, Liz Earle and Lisa Snowdon, Ms Harris will join the Speaker at the signing event on Monday.

The pledge will mean that the Speaker will commit to implementing adjustments in the workplace which could include well-ventilated rooms and fans, flexible working and breathable uniforms.

Other actions which can support menopausal women in the workplace include advice from on-site clinical nurses and occupational health teams, time off for related appointments, training for managers and awareness events and cafes.

Leading by example

Recent research suggests that the UK could lose 14 million workdays a year due to menopause related issues and one in four women who experience menopausal symptoms consider leaving their job.

Campaigners suggest that medical sexism and a lack of training means that many women get no help for symptoms, which can include depression, anxiety, insomnia and brain fog, as well as hot flushes.

Speaking on BBC news yesterday Ms Harris said: “Sir Lindsay is leading by example here and saying to employers everywhere it’s really important to keep women in work and by making very small adjustments, which is what signing this menopause pledge does, then he is giving women right across the country that there is hope that other employers will follow.”

She added: “This is a great opportunity to remind those who have the power to instigate change that 51 per cent of the population are relying on this and we cannot let them down.”

Break the taboo

The Commons Speaker said he wants to “break the taboo” on the menopause by getting “everyone in our parliamentary village talking” about it and offering support to women who are affected.

Sir Lindsay said he does not want women colleagues and staff to avoid promotion or leave Parliament because of their symptoms and will encourage all MPs to sign the pledge to cover staff in their Commons and constituency offices.

“I also want to break the taboo – just as we did with mental health issues – and get everyone in our parliamentary village talking about the menopause and offering support for those going through it,” he said.

“After all, we men are the husbands, partners, brothers, sons and colleagues of those facing the menopause, so it is particularly important that we are onboard as allies to offer our support and understanding.”

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