Aspects: Conservatives Ask Women What They Want; Sophie Lessar Reports on How the Tories Say They Are Listening to Women

Article excerpt

Today is National Women's Day and to mark it the Conservative Party has launched a consultation document called Choices.

After spending months talking to women, the Tories say they hold the key to understanding their concerns and want to remedy the system which women believe is letting them down.

Midland MP Caroline Spelman, shadow spokesman on women's issues, said it heralded a new era for the party and was an indication that the party was listening to people and this was reflected in their new ideas.

'We mounted a huge Listening to Britain exercise in which all the Conservative Party's MPs participated and passed on the concerns of women,' she said.

'Unsurprisingly, they showed great concern about health and education and we have focused on these issues.' From women's concerns about standards in education to childcare, caring for dependent relatives, health and employment the policy proposals emphasise their work as mothers and carers and stresses the need to reward them accordingly.

As the document's title suggests, it focuses on allowing women to make decisions in these important areas for themselves and for their families 'rather than trying to dictate how they should behave'.

Expressing faith in a stable family's importance for a stable society, the Conservatives are sticking to a Family Values approach they believe most women would opt for.

The Tories say they want to offer financial support for those who elect not to return to work straight after having children, so 'helping families stick together'. …