Women in the 2024 election manifesto - #MARCH4WOMEN 2018, Trafalgar Square, London, United Kingdom

2024 election manifesto analysis

Party manifesto analysis summary

To help you understand what the different political parties are offering in terms of tackling sexism in schools, End Sexism in Schools has conducted a review of their different 2024 election manifestos.

In short, none of the parties fully address the underlying causes of misogyny and there are no clear commitments to tackle gender imbalance in the curriculum.

  • The Labour party commits to “a modern curriculum so young people are ready for work and life”.
  • Reform wants the “History and social science curriculum to be reviewed and audited regularly to ensure balance” without explaining what “balance” means.
  • The Conservative manifesto states a global commitment to expand international campaigns on girls’ education without specific commitments in terms of curriculum or related to gender equality in education in the UK.
  • The Liberal Democrat manifesto commits to a of review that will “broaden the curriculum and make qualifications at 16 and 18 fit for the 21st century”. However, the purpose of broadening does not explicitly address inequality in the current curriculum content.
  • The Green Party manifesto makes commitments to improve representation of and access for women but does not address or acknowledge the gender inequality inherent in the current schools curriculum.

Keep reading for our detailed analysis of each party’s manifesto. We hope you find this analysis helpful. End Sexism in Schools is an apolitical campaigning group and does not support any individual candidate or political party.

Full 2024 election manifesto analysis

End Sexism in Schools has reviewed the manifestos of all the key parties in England to find out what their commitments are in relation to our mission – to end sexism in schools so girls and boys can fulfil their potential, without gendered expectations, in a safe and supportive environment.

We are dismayed, but not surprised, to see that none of the parties recognise or make commitments in relation to addressing sexism in schools through a whole-school approach. However, some parties do make mention of, and have commitments that relate to, sexism and education more broadly.

Below we break down how the different parties address concerns relevant to our mission:

  • whether they address the issue of sexism in education;
  • how they talk about gender equality or violence against women and girls (VAWG) more generally; and
  • how they talk about the education curriculum more generally.

Conservative

Sexism in Education

The Conservative manifesto does not make any commitments directly related to addressing sexism in school. There is no mention of sexism or misogyny in the manifesto.

The manifesto touches on the question of schools, relationships and sex education, with a focus on parental awareness of what is being taught. “We will work to strengthen the relationship between schools and parents, including by delivering new legislation which will make clear, beyond all doubt, that parents have a right to see what their child is being taught in school and schools must share all materials, especially on sensitive matters like relationships and sex education.”

We welcome the idea of parents being better informed of what their children are being taught at school. We do not think that many parents are aware that only 2% of students study a female authored text at GCSE (Pride and who? Jane where? The Missing Women in GCSE English Literature, 2022). Indeed we believe that most people are not aware of this inequality, including many working in the education sector.

The commitment proposed by the Conservative manifesto in this case seems to be geared towards parental concerns on limiting relationships and sex education, rather than addressing inequalities in the curriculum. 

VAWG and Gender Equality

The Conservatives do make a number of commitments in relation to violence against women and girls:

  • making it a strategic policing requirement;
  • new offences for spiking, the creation of sexualised deepfake images and taking intimate images without consent; and
  • toughened sentencing for murders in the context of domestic violence.

On gender equality more generally, the manifesto makes a number of commitments, including:

  • support for female entrepreneurs;
  • strategy for women’s health; maternal care;
  • equal access for women and
  • girls in investment in grassroots sports facilities.

The manifesto states that “We are committed to promoting equality of opportunity, not divisive identity politics. We value a society that is inclusive no matter what sex […] a person is.” We are pleased to see the ambitions then outlined in relation to tackling ethnic disparities, increasing accessibility for people with disabilities, and delivering for LGBT people. However, no measures are mentioned here specifically addressing inequality based on sex.

The manifesto also states at the outset that it will “introduce controls on all ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’ initiatives and spending” suggesting that improving equality would be de-prioritised, rather than acknowledged or addressed.

Education and Curriculum

The Conservative manifesto states a global commitment to expand international campaigns on girls’ education, but there are no specific commitments in terms of curriculum or related to gender equality in education in the UK.

Green

Sexism in Education

The Green Party manifesto does not make any commitments directly related to addressing sexism in schools.

VAWG and Gender Equality

The manifesto states that “elected Greens will work to […] end violence against women and girls”. Commitments to achieve this include:

  • making misogyny a hate crime;
  • creating a UK-wide strategy to address various aspects of VAWG;
  • training for police to recognise and tackle domestic abuse;
  • making domestic abuse and GBV a measurable priority for police forces;
  • funding local authorities to meet domestic violence and
  • rape crisis service needs; and decriminalising sex work.

Though the manifesto does not contain any reference to sexism, it does mention misogyny, stating that “Police Services need to acknowledge the institutional racism, misogyny, homophobia and disablism that have dominated policing for so long. They must root out any officers who hold views incompatible with serving as a police officer” and state that they will push to make misogyny a hate crime.

The manifesto makes a number of commitments to improve representation of and access for women. Gender equality commitments include:

  • ay gap protections;
  • flexible working arrangements to benefit women;
  • measures to make parliament more representative;
  • making politics more accessible to women; and
  • making sports more representative of women and girls.

Education and Curriculum

The manifesto references the curriculum in relation to arts, culture and sports. Their view on schools curriculum does not extend to a review of current curriculum nor address or acknowledge the gender inequality inherent in current curriculum across subjects.

Liberal Democrat

Sexism in Education

The Liberal Democrat 2024 election manifesto does not make any commitments directly related to addressing sexism in schools.

However it does state a commitment to “tackle bullying in schools by promoting pastoral leadership in schools and delivering high-quality relationships and sex education”.

The reference to relationships and sex education as the solution here suggests that the type of bullying they aim to address is sexual harassment or gender based bullying specifically. This is to be welcomed, but it would be better to see the issue of sexual harassment in schools more explicitly acknowledged.

Relationships and sex education alone would be inadequate to address such bullying in any case, as it does not address the structural inequalities that create a school environment where sexism and harassment can flourish.

VAWG and Gender Equality

The manifesto recognises that “Violence against women and girls remains horrifically high.”

Commitments to address this include:

  • making misogyny a hate crime;
  • improvements to support for survivors through the criminal justice process;
  • implementation of recommendations to tackle sexism in policing;
  • domestic abuse specialists in every police force and 999 operator assistance centre;
  • addressing delays in domestic abuse referrals; establishing a Women’s Justice Board;
  • specialist training for all staff in contact with women in the criminal justice system;
  • full implementation of the Istanbul Convention; expanding the number of refuges and rape crisis centres to meet demand;
  • sustainable funding for services for survivors; and requirements for social media companies to publish reports on action taken to address online abuse;
  • recalling MPs who commit sexual harassment; and
  • independent processes and monitoring for sexual misconduct in the NHS.

On gender equality more generally, the manifesto makes a number of commitments, including:

  • fixing statutory sick pay, mostly affecting women; ending the gender price gap;
  • rights to free period products;
  • doubling maternity pay;
  • reducing high maternal mortality rates for black women;
  • eliminating racial disparities in maternal health;
  • accepting recommendations for women in the armed services;
  • requiring large employers to publish data on gender;
  • measures to end the gender pension gap; and
  • supporting campaigns to improve equality in sport.

The manifesto references education and women and girls in relation to their foreign policy agenda with “with gender equality at its heart, focusing on […] education and training” but doesn’t link gender equality and education as a concern in the UK.

Education and Curriculum

The Liberal Democrat manifesto does commit to some kind of review of the current curriculum. It states they will “urgently establish a standing commission to build a long-term consensus across parties and teachers to broaden the curriculum and make qualifications at 16 and 18 fit for the 21st century”.

The purpose of broadening in this case seems to be to expand the subjects available for study to include vocational options, rather than review or address inequality in the curriculum content of current subjects.  

The manifesto also commits to “implement a new parental engagement strategy, including a regular, published parent survey and guidance for schools on providing accessible information to parents on what their children are learning.”

Again, we welcome the idea of parents being better informed of what their children are being taught at school as we do not think that many parents are aware that only 2% of students study a female authored text at GCSE, for example (Pride and who? Jane where? The Missing Women in GCSE English Literature, 2022). However, as most people are not aware of this inequality, including many working in the education sector, it is unlikely the information for parents would make this clear. The problem must be seen and acknowledged in the first place.

Labour

Sexism in Education

Labour’s election manifesto aims to address the “root causes of abuse and violence” as part of their commitment to “halve violence against women and girls in a decade”.

“Violence and abuse against women and girls does not come from nowhere. Misogyny is one root cause, and therefore Labour will ensure schools address misogyny and teach young people about healthy relationships and consent.”

We welcome their recognition that violence against women and girls does not come from nowhere, and that the root cause of misogyny must be addressed in schools and with young people. However, the proposed solution of Relationships and Sexual Health education (RSH), which is often touted as the solution, is inadequate for the situation.

RSH, or PSHE (personal, social, health and economic) education more generally, is a non-examined subject, taught by non-specialists, in an often moveable time-slot. Its impact is therefore limited and simply cannot by itself undo the impact of the daily, structural inequalities of an education system where women’s stories and experiences continue to be invisible.

Gender Equality and VAWG

Labour makes a number of commitments on VAWG, including:

  • specialist rape and sexual offences police teams;
  • sentencing on rape;
  • strengthening protections against stalking;
  • a new criminal offence for spiking; and
  • training on violence against women and girls for constabulary and fire services.

On gender equality they include commitments on:

  • addressing the gender pay gap, maternity and menopause discrimination;
  • workplace sexual harassment;
  • maternity care;
  • women’s health inequalities; and
  • building on the Online Safety Act to protect women from misogyny online.

Education and Curriculum

In relation to education, Labour does commit to “a modern curriculum so young people are ready for work and life” as part of their intention to “break down the barriers to opportunity”. It is unclear exactly what a ‘modern’ curriculum might mean. They go on to say:

“Every child should have a broad curriculum with an excellent foundation in reading, writing and maths, and support to develop essential digital, speaking, and creative skills. […] Labour will launch an expert-led review of curriculum and assessment, working with school staff, parents and employers to change this. […] Our reforms will build on the hard work of teachers who have brought their subjects alive with knowledge-rich syllabuses, to deliver a curriculum which is rich and broad, inclusive, and innovative.”

Though the curriculum review and reform do not seem to be driven by a recognition of the inequality inherent in the current system, we welcome the intention to review and reform the curriculum in order to have a “broad” and “inclusive” curriculum, which we maintain would have to be gender balanced.

Reform

Sexism in Education

The Reform party 2024 election manifesto does not make any commitments directly related to addressing sexism in schools.

Gender Equality and VAWG

The Reform party manifesto does not make any mention of violence against women and girls.

The manifesto commits to “scrap Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DE&I) rules that have lowered standards and reduced economic productivity” so improvements to equality could be removed, rather than acknowledged or addressed.

Education and Curriculum

The Reform Party manifesto does commit to a review of curriculum prioritising “a patriotic curriculum”.

“Any teaching about a period or example of British or European imperialism or slavery must be paired with the teaching of a non-European occurrence of the same to ensure balance. History and social science curriculum to be reviewed and audited regularly to ensure balance.”

While we would agree that the history and social science curriculums should be reviewed for balance, as we believe all subject curriculums must, the priority must be the imbalance in terms of gender equality. It is this imbalance that makes women’s experiences and stories invisible, enabling sexist views to flourish, and leading to misogynistic attitudes and violence against women and girls.

Email your candidate

If you’re dissatisfied with how your party is addressing the needs of women and girls in the curriculum, let them know. You can find the contact details for all the candidates in your constituency on the whocanivotefor.co.uk website.

Sarah Reavley
Sarah Reavley
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