Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

The Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities (previously Shadow Minister for Women, Shadow Minister for Women and Equality and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities) is a position in the United Kingdom's Official Opposition, and sits in the Shadow Cabinet. The Shadow Secretary of State is responsible for holding the Minister for Women and Equalities, responsible for the Government Equalities Office, to account and is responsible for Opposition policy on women's and equality issues.

Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities
The official portrait of Naz Shah
Dawn Butler

since 31 August 2017
Shadow Cabinet
AppointerLeader of the Opposition
Formation31 October 1983
First holderJo Richardson
WebsiteShadow Cabinet

The post was upgraded to the Shadow Cabinet rank of Shadow Secretary of State following the snap general election of 2017, with Jeremy Corbyn indicating that if Labour win office at the next election, Women and Equalities will be upgraded to the full status of a government department. Previously, the post was often held together with a Shadow Cabinet post, but sometimes as a Shadow Cabinet post in its own right.

Shadow Ministers and SecretariesEdit

Shadow Minister Took office Left office Political party Leader of the Opposition
Jo Richardson 31 October 1983[1] 18 July 1992 Labour Neil Kinnock
Mo Mowlam 18 July 1992[2] 21 October 1993 Labour  
John Smith
Clare Short   21 October 1993[3] 19 October 1995 Labour
Tony Blair
Tessa Jowell   19 October 1995[4] 26 July 1996[n 1] Labour
Janet Anderson 26 July 1996[n 1] 2 May 1997 Labour
Gillian Shephard   2 May 1997 Unknown Conservative John Major
Unclear[n 2] Conservative William Hague
Theresa May   15 June 1999 14 September 2001 Conservative
Caroline Spelman   14 September 2001 15 March 2004 Conservative Iain Duncan Smith
Michael Howard
Eleanor Laing   15 March 2004 2 July 2007 Conservative
David Cameron
Theresa May   2 July 2007 11 May 2010 Conservative
Yvette Cooper   20 May 2010 7 October 2013 Labour Harriet Harman
Ed Miliband
Gloria De Piero   7 October 2013 14 September 2015 Labour
Harriet Harman
Kate Green   14 September 2015 27 June 2016 Labour Jeremy Corbyn
Angela Rayner   27 June 2016 6 October 2016 Labour
Sarah Champion[10]   6 October 2016 16 August 2017 Labour
Dawn Butler   31 August 2017 Incumbent Labour

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Blair conducted a minor reshuffle of his shadow cabinet on 26 July 1996. As Anderson was in post and Shadow Minister for Women by 21 August 1996[5] (and Jowell as a Shadow Health minister by 15 September),[6] the change likely occurred at that 26 July resuffle.
  2. ^ No sources currently note any individual as holding this role for the Conservatives when Labour entered Government at the 1997 election and created the position of Minister for Women, but no source proves there was not one. Before the Conservatives' defeat, Gillian Shephard, John Major's Education Secretary, spoke on women's issues. She largely delegated the responsibility to a junior minister, Cheryl Gillan.[7] The only parliamentary debate that obviously fell under the portfolio of the Minister for Women during the term of Harriet Harman (May 1997 to July 1998) occurred on 27 February 1998. It was a set-piece debate, meaning the order of speakers was opening minister, opening shadow minister, backbenchers, closing shadow minister, closing minister. Harman opened, followed by Shepard. The closing speeches were given by Gillan for the Conservatives and Joan Ruddock, Harman's deputy, for the Government.[8] A similar debate was held on 8 March 1999. The Minister for Women was a peer, Baroness Jay of Paddington, so her deputy, Tessa Jowell, opened the debate for the Government; Theresa May opened for the Conservatives. Virginia Bottomley closed for the Opposition, and Margaret Hodge did so for Labour.[9]


  1. ^ Parkhouse, Geoffrey (1 November 1983). "Protest by Nationalists as Dewar takes over". The Glasgow Herald. p. 7.
  2. ^ Timmins, Nicholas (25 July 1992). "Smith revamps Shadow Cabinet: Nicholas Timmins analyses the Labour line-up and looks at the backgrounds of the newcomers". The Independent. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  3. ^ Lynton, Martin (22 October 1993). "Women's lists 'not illegal': The New Shadow Cabinet". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Davies, Patricia Wynn; Donald Macintyre (20 October 1995). "Blair turns tables in front bench 'clearout'". The Independent. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  5. ^ Boggan, Steve; Raif, Shenai (21 August 1996). "Women in revealing clothes have no redress, says lawyer". The Independent. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Letter: Nurse Search". The Independent. 15 September 1996. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  7. ^ Abrams, Fran (7 May 1997). "Jowell to be first guardian of public health". The Independent. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  8. ^ "House of Commons Debates, 27 February 1998 c. 607–80". Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  9. ^ "House of Commons Debates 8 March 1999 c. 34–120". Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  10. ^ "Sarah Champion takes Angela Rayner's second brief - women and equalities". Jessica Elgot, Twitter. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.