I have met with so many inspirational women and women’s rights organisations throughout the past year to discuss themes from the Women’s Business Council report, such as how we can help women to progress in their careers, and how we can encourage businesses and schools to set up lasting partnerships to inspire the next generation in their career choices.
I also enjoyed visiting a number of schools to talk to girls about their aspirations, encouraging them to aim high and to consider a wide range of career choices. This is an area of work that I am strongly committed to, and I look forward to developing our work in this area in 2014 through the recommendations we will be continuing to take forwards from the report.
I am passionate about sport and I feel privileged to be the Minister leading on this area. I have enjoyed meeting a number of our hugely inspirational female athletes and Olympic medallists such as Britain’s first ever women’s Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams, who I met at the English Institute for Sport in Sheffield in December. While the number of people taking part in sport is increasing, there is currently a 1.8 million gap between men and women playing sport and I want to see that significantly closed. I have played sport throughout my life and it is such a force for good.
And, of course, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act became law last year. A fantastic step forward for equality. Real progress has been made towards LGB&T equality, but we recognise that there is still more to do. I met several leading LGB&T organisations in October to better understand the issues LGB&T people can continue to face. Events such as LGBT History Month in February and the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in May provide opportunities to celebrate the contribution that LGB&T people have and continue to make to our society, as well as to reflect on the challenges that remain.
I look forward to working with the LGB&T community in 2014 to make further progress towards LGB&T equality.