Dawn is a Labour party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Bristol South since 1987. She held various ministerial offices including Minister of State for Public Health, Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families and was also the longest serving Paymaster General in the office’s 200 year history. In 2010 she was appointed Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2014 as a tribute to her work on reducing poverty. Dawn is standing down from Parliament at the general election. She is a proud feminist. In her early years she was involved in community women’s groups, the County Council equal opportunities’ committee, undertook research into women and housing and has been committed to improving women’s position throughout her work.

“Welcome to the website of Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre. It’s a huge honour to be invited to be part of this vital organisation on the first anniversary of its inception and on International Women’s Day when we can all reflect on the remarkable strength of women. When I was first elected as a MP I was one of just 41 women in the House of Commons, just 6% of all MPs. It is worrying that nearly 30 years later the House that makes decisions about women’s’ lives is only 22% female.

There is plenty of evidence to show that, despite significant equality legislation in recent years, gender inequality has increased. Women are paid significantly less, and depend on social security and tax credits more than men.  They are also more likely to need support for their housing costs, use public transport and be primary carers.  Overwhelmingly it has been women who have contacted my constituency office for help with their housing, social security, concerns about their children’s education and much more. In Gloucestershire, with a population of 602,159 (50.9% female), it is likely that there are over 50,000 survivors of rape and sexual abuse at any given time. Very few of these survivors will have reported or sought support until sometime after the incidents occurred. Based on police data in 2011/12, fewer than 9% of all survivors of rape and sexual assault reported to the police in Gloucestershire.

GRASAC provides a crucial service which is a lifeline to so many women. We offer free, confidential support to any woman or girl who has experienced sexual violence of any kind during her life. We believe that the survivor is never to blame and we will always believe and support you. Please have a look at our  ‘how you can help’ page to find out more about how you can support this essential work through donations or fundraising.

It is a huge privilege for me to be part of an organisation that listens to women’s voices and also gives them a voice. Together we can make a difference”.