New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
4 November 2015

Yes, it does matter that there are just two women on Britain’s new passports

It comes back to the prevailing belief provided you have some women somewhere, you’ve done your bit for gender equality. 

By Kate Green

Here we go again. The announcement this week that the new UK passport, designed to celebrate 500 years of arts and culture, will feature just two women repeats the pattern of underplaying women’s contribution to our country.

Last year’s outcry at the failure of the Bank of England to think of including a single woman on its banknotes appears to have taught the Home Office little. Of course, two women is better than none at all – but given the number of men who are featured, it’s a far cry from equal representation.

This seems to reflect a prevailing belief that provided you have some women somewhere, you’ve done your bit for gender equality. It’s not just public institutions that have a problem. Lord Davies was last week proposing corporate boards should be set a target of 33 per cent women. But why not 50/50?

There will be some who say that women have more important things to worry about than how many of us are portrayed in the pages of our passport. But the invisibility of women tells young women and girls that they shouldn’t have equal aspirations to men, that they can’t hope to achieve what men can, that those who have contributed the most to our country and are worthy of recognition and prestige are men, not women. It tells the world that we don’t value women’s contributions equally.

Given the emphasis so often laid by ministers on the importance of role models for young women, it’s disappointing to say the least that where the government itself could hold up women exemplars, it should fail to do so. But that’s what happens when your commitment to equality is only lip service.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
The future of private credit
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors
How the apprenticeship levy helps small businesses to transform their workforce