West Yorkshire MP Philip Davies has been admonished by Ministers for suggesting they do not take men’s equality “seriously”.
After learning that the Government has no plans to mark International Men’s Day this year, the Shipley MP accused Ministers of not seeing it as “important”.
But equalities Minister Caroline Dinenage hit back at Mr Davies’ “unfair” claims, arguing that she and fellow Ministers tackle inequality “wherever we find it”.
The exchange, follows the MPs’ 2015 campaign to hold an International Men’s Day debate in Parliament.
The Conservative MP faced ridicule at the time – most notably from the Labour MP Jess Phillips – but was eventually successful.
Addressing Mrs Dinenage yesterday, he asked what plans she has to commemorate International Men’s Day this year. When the Minister stated it was up to backbenchers to bid for a debate, he suggested she did not see the issue as important.
“Perhaps her department ought to take International Men’s Day as seriously as the Prime Minister has,” he said. “She has said [she] recognises the important issues that this event seeks to highlight, including men’s health, male suicide rates and the under-performance of boys in schools.
He added: “Why is International Men’s Day not as important to this Minister as it is to the Prime Minister?”
In her reply, Mrs Dinenage accused Mr Davies of being “a little unfair”. She stressed that she does not see equality as “a zero sum game”.
“The role of the Government Equalities Office is to tackle inequality wherever we find it,” she said. “All parents of sons including me, will be conscious of and concerned about the issues that [Mr Davies], and indeed the Prime Minister, have mentioned.
“However, I am also aware that there are parts of the world where girls are routinely subjected to genital mutilation, forced marriage and sexual violence. For me, equality is not a zero sum game.”