Liz Truss: why has the word ‘women’ been removed from Minister for Equalities title - will the roles be split?
Nadhim Zahawi has been appointed Minister for Equalities, but there’s one important word missing from his job title.
The word “women” has been removed from the Minister for Equalities title, sparking confusion and uproar on social media.
Previously known as the “Minister for Women and Equalities”, the role, now held by Nadhim Zahawi after an appointment from new Prime Minister Liz Truss, reads only as “Minister for Equalities” on the Government website.
There was speculation that Ms Truss may have had plans to split the roles, and promote a “Minister for Women” to the Cabinet - but government sources have confirmed this is not the case.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said that while the title held by Mr Zahawi had “changed slightly”, the equalities brief has “not changed.”
“I believe that the people of the United Kingdom will be focused on the actions that the Government takes to protect women, including introducing a national domestic abuse register,” the spokesperson continued.
He added: “I think that actions the Government is taking in this space is how it should be judged rather than on job titles of individuals.”
But Labour MPs have criticised the change, arguing it is a step backwards in gender equality.
Anneliese Dodds, Shadow Women & Equalities Secretary, wrote on Twitter: “Women are always an afterthought for the Tories. Erasing the role for women in the Cabinet confirms it.”
Meanwhile, Labour MP for Bristol South Karin Smyth said it is a “very worrying development by the new PM.”
Kate Osborne mentioned the change at the Women and Equalities Select Committee today (7 September), writing after the event: “Women’s equality must and will remain at the forefront of what we do as a committee, regardless of Liz Truss’s attempts to downgrade us.”
According to the its website, the Minister for Equalities has responsibility for “policy on sexual orientation and transgender equality” and “cross-government equality strategy and legislation.”
In addition to the name change, many have also criticised the appointment of Mr Zahawi, the man who briefly served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Boris Johnson’s government after Rishi Sunak quit the role.
When he launched his campaign in the Tory leadership race, which he was eliminated from in the first round, one of his promises was to “protect children from damaging and inappropriate nonsense being forced on them by radical activists.”
The line was interpreted by many as a reference to LGBTQ+ activists, and is a quote now being brought back into the limelight given his new position in government.