The Women and Equalities Committee was appointed by the House of Commons on 3 June 2015 to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Government Equalities Office (GEO).
Maria was nominated and elected as Chair on 18 June 2015, Maria said: "This is an immense privilege. The new Women and Equalities Committee has a vital role and can create real momentum for change. Britain has a proud history of challenging inequity and intolerance but, in any society, there will always be a need to shine a light on discrimination in whatever form it takes. I look forward to working with the Members of the Committee to scrutinise and help improve the effectiveness of Government equality policy."
The Committee filled "a gap" in previous accountability arrangements - the Minister for Women and Equalities and the GEO are now be held to account by a select committee for the Government's performance on equalities (sex, age, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, pregnancy and maternity, marriage or civil partnership status) issues. The Committee joins more than thirty Parliaments worldwide with dedicated equalities committees.
As Chair, Maria led inquiries covering a diverse range of issues, deliberately challenging in their tone and recommendations, to create better awareness of the wide range of equality problems people face: ‘Disability Access and the Built Environment’, ‘Women in the House of Commons’, ‘Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools’, ‘Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination’ and ‘Employment Opportunities for Muslims in the UK’. "Gypsy, Roma and Travellers", and "the use of non-disclosure agreements in discrimination cases" to name a few. Please see full list below.
"Select Committees have the advantage of working collaboratively, cross party, looking at the unvarnished evidence. This is one of the real strengths of our Westminster Parliamentary system. Away from the spectacle of the debating chamber the regular work of the select committees demonstrates that there is much more that unites Members of Parliament than divides us when it comes to matters of equality. Indeed the Government’s decision to make Relationship and Sex Education compulsory for all school aged children, to ensure they are better placed to tackle the challenges of the modern world, was the result of collaborative working of four Select Committee Chairs and more than 30 backbench MPs of all political parties." Maria added.
Maria was delighted that Caroline Nokes, Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North was nominated and elected as the new chair following 2019 General Election.
Further information on the Select Committee's work is available at https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/328/women-and-equalities-com…