On this day in 1929, Margaret Bondfield became Minister of Labour in the newly formed Labour Government. This was a great day for Labour, and for politics too – Margaret Bondfield was Britain’s first ever female Cabinet Minister.
Bondfield had made history many times by 1929. A leading trade unionist, she published a report to improve the lives of women working in shops. In 1899, she seconded the motion to the TUC to form the Labour Representation Committee – now the Labour Party. She and Mary Macarthur formed the first women’s general union, the National Federation of Women Workers. And, naturally, she was active in the women’s suffrage movement, as chairperson of the Adult Suffrage Society.
Margaret Bondfield was a co-operator too, as an active member of the Women’s Co-operative Guild which was campaigning for minimum wage legislation, an improvement in child welfare and action to lower the infant mortality rate. The Guild played a crucial role in the peace movements of the time.
Today, we mark the pioneering efforts of Margaret Bondfield, the work of all the women before and since who fought for a better society in the co-operative and labour movements, and all that we still need to do.
The Co-operative Party is proud to support the Labour Women’s Network and its work to promote women candidates for political office. We are pleased to support the LWN Annual Dinner next week as their sponsor and look forward to ever closer links with our own Co-operative Party Women’s Network.
Today we are asking you to consider supporting the work of the Labour Women’s Network. Open to men as well as women, you’d be supporting Labour women to play a full part in the Party, and help secure the election of more Labour women to public office at every level.