This week, the Labour Party marked a sad day – the fifth anniversary of the murder of one of our colleagues, the wonderful Jo Cox. She fought hard to improve life for her constituents and her community, and her dedication and care is something I shall always remember. This week I’ve been thinking of her and her family.
On Wednesday of this week I introduced my Private Members Bill in the House of Commons on the menopause. On World Menopause Day in 2018, I made a speech in the main House of Commons Chamber calling on the UK Government to commit to make a difference to the lives of all women experiencing symptoms of the menopause. At present, approximately 13 million of us in the UK are either perimenopausal or post-menopausal. That is almost a fifth of the entire population. In that debate back in 2018, I spoke of the need for changes in the curriculum to better educate our young people; improved public education to help women who are suffering and those closest to them; better training for GPs to ensure that women are correctly diagnosed and given the right treatments; and mandatory workplace menopause policies, so that women can continue to work through what can be the most difficult time of their lives.
With many pressure groups and the media now shining a light on issues to do with menopause, we are starting to talk about it more, but now we also need to start taking action. Education is key here, both public education—so that women understand what is happening to their bodies and feel confident in making informed decisions about the path they choose—and professional education, which is severely lacking. Education on the menopause, which is slowly being incorporated into the curriculum in secondary schools, is a positive step forward, but it is just one part of a much bigger picture. Public health guidance, standardised compulsory training for those in the medical professions, and fully funded HRT treatments and workplace policies need to follow. Women should not feel inferior or incapable of doing their job because of the effects of the menopause on their health and wellbeing, but, sadly, too many do.
Women deserve so much better. They are giving up their careers and ending relationships because of the severity of their symptoms and the impact on their physical and mental wellbeing. It is no coincidence that suicide rates for women peak between the ages of 45 and 54, which is the average age that most women reach the menopause or experience perimenopausal symptoms. This cannot carry on. I do not want to be standing in the House of Commons in another two and a half years talking about the same things.
On Monday 28 June we will have the first AGM of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Menopause. This won’t be a talking shop – it will be a driving force for change. Our menopause inquiry will take in workplace policy, medical school training, public health messaging and school curriculums. If the menopause were an illness, or indeed a condition that impacted every man, it’s unlikely that financial support would be so woeful, or public understanding so negligible. Women have suffered long enough – I am determined to change that with the menopause revolution
I am thrilled and completely over the moon that our wonderful Constituency Office Manager, David Lloyd, has been awarded the British Empire Medal. He and his wonderful wife, Cynthia, founded the Second Chance organisation based in St Thomas, a working-class area of Swansea, to allow local residents to buy and sell in the local community. It has become a community hub – a place for local residents to earn some extra cash and to alleviate social issues such as loneliness and isolation. It’s a great initiative that brings people together and I am so proud of David for all that he has done in our community.
Citizens Advice are running a very important campaign to highlight the dangers of scams to younger people. People in their twenties often think they are invincible and impervious to scams, but the research in fact shows that people in their twenties are most likely to be scammed. You can protect yourself by following a few simple rules: don’t ever give money or details to anyone you’ve met online and don’t click on unsolicited links or links from people you do not know.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. As always, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – my team and I are here to help. And remember – stay home, observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!