Lewes MP Maria Caulfield has been appointed Vice Chair for Women of the Conservative Party. In a statement, she said “The Conservative Party has many brilliant and talented women from the grassroots all the way to the Prime Minister. I will use my new role to help promote the fantastic work that they all do, ensuring that they get a fair chance to shine and use their talents within the Conservative Party for the benefit of all.”
On Twitter, she added “I’m excited to help get even more brilliant female candidates elected to ensure the Conservative Party continues to properly represent women and lead on the issues that matter.”
However, a number of Women’s Rights groups have criticised the appointment because Maria Caulfield voted against a proposal to decriminalise abortion law. Sophie Walker of the Women’s Equality Party said “Women’s equality goes hand in hand with reproductive rights. Someone who believes those rights should be restricted can never advocate effectively for us.” Labour MP Dawn Butler described the appointment as an “appalling decision”, adding that “Women deserve to have the strongest advocates at the top of politics, not people who seek to restrict their rights and freedoms.” Writing in the New Statesman, Sian Norris says Maria Caulfield’s appointment raises “major questions about the party’s commitment to women’s equality”.