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Lords International Women's Day debate

12 March 2021

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To mark International Women's Day, on Thursday 11 March the House of Lords debated the UK's role in empowering women in the recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Conservative), government spokesperson, opened the debate expressing condolences to the family of Sarah Everard. She said that all women should feel safe to walk the streets without fear of harassment and violence. 

Violence against women

During the wide-ranging debate, many members spoke out on violence against women and girls, particularly surrounding domestic abuse and abuse of women online.

Women's employment

Members highlighted women in jobs at the forefront of tackling COVID-19, from care workers to nurses and doctors. They also expressed concern for the many women employed in the retail sector, which is suffering since the onset of the pandemic.

Mental health

The toll on women of the challenges of balancing work, childcare and home schooling was discussed: members urged the government to ensure it addresses women's mental health and the pension gap in its recovery plans.

Mininster for Women

Minister for Women Baroness Berridge (Conservative) echoed the condolences to Sarah Everard's family throughout the debate and responded on behalf of the government to the points members raised.

Read more on the debate topic of empowering women in the recovery from the impact of COVID-19 in the House of Lords Library briefing.


Nearly 50 members took part in the five hour debate. Speakers included an ambassador for International Center for Research on Women, the Chair of UN Women UK and women at the top of their professions in the media, law, finance and more, including:

  • Baroness Benjamin (Liberal Democrat), broadcaster and president of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists
  • Baronsss Goudie (Labour), Ambassador, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
  • Baroness Deech (Crossbench), lawyer and academic
  • Baroness Verma (Conservative), Chair, UN Women UK


This was a general debate. During debates, members put their experience to good use to discuss current issues and draw the government's attention to concerns. This debate took place in Grand Committee, a second debating chamber.

Image: House of Lords / Roger Harris