The full debate can be read here.
Full text of Matt’s speech;
On around 22 June this year, I am due to become a father for the first time. While it is not yet clear whether this baby girl’s middle name would best be Europa or Brexit, she will in due course become an international woman. Being born in Britain, she will over the course of her school and working life encounter opportunities that remain almost unimaginable for many born elsewhere. She will have a mother whose science and medical background will inspire her, or put her off, careers where women have traditionally been desperately under-represented, but her father’s jobs as a journalist and a politician may make her wonder why men are drawn to jobs in which the public do not believe a word that we say.
However, girls born in Britain do not only face first-world problems. While it is sometimes unhelpful to talk about a sex war in which a strain of feminism aggressively alienates men, arguments about language and presentation should not obscure the facts: seven out of 10 women say that they have experienced harassment in the street; childcare still falls predominantly on women; and men who take advantage of the Government’s hugely positive changes to parental leave are likely to be a tiny percentage of the majority. Even in this place, while we talk about paternity leave, it is apparently beyond the wit of man or woman to sort out a system that works. I hope my naked self-interest does not invalidate the fact that as long as Parliament says that businesses must do as we say, not as we do, we will deserve to make little progress nationwide.
International Women’s Day must surely be about one thing above all else: equality. It is about equality of opportunity for girls to study any subject they like and not those whose culture persists in saying that boys or girls specialise in certain subjects. It is about equality of access to their parents because society does not pretend that men have to go to work and women look after children. And it is about equality of access to the workplace, because it is time that we all acknowledged that men and women, Britain and the world benefit if we jointly celebrate diversity and difference, while acknowledging that each of us has strengths and that some of those may derive from gender as much as they do from background.
I do not think that the pay gap will have closed by the time my daughter is born or even before she is working, nor do I pretend that we can have so much equality that men and women will ever be equal in bearing children, but I know that unless we all—men and women—have this inequality in mind, in this place and everywhere, we will not be able to lead by example or to ask those who think they have something to lose from equality to see what, in fact, they have to gain.