Samantha Cameron has pressed her husband to take tougher action to boost the number of women in senior positions in business and the judiciary, as well as the Conservative party, the Prime Minister admitted today.
David Cameron, who has come under fire for appointing relatively few female ministers, acknowledged that there were “not nearly enough” women MPs.
Speaking during a three-day visit to India, he urged major institutions to remove the barriers to female success in the workplace.
Mr Cameron said: “My wife likes to say that if you don't have women in the top places, you are not just missing out on 50 per cent of the talent, you are missing out on a lot more than 50 per cent of the talent - and I think she probably has a point.”
During a visit to Unilever's headquarters in Mumbai, he was asked by a female employee if Britain had anything to teach India about opening up opportunities to women.
He replied: “We still have a long way to go. If you look at the top businesses in Britain, there still aren't nearly enough women in the boardroom.
“If you look at politics in Britain, there aren’t nearly enough women around the Cabinet table.
“I think in every walk of life, whether the judiciary, politics or business, there is a lot further to go. My own view is it isn’t enough just to open up and say we will treat everyone equally, when you are starting from such a position of disadvantage.
“Companies, political parties and other organisations need to actively go out and encourage women to join in, to sign up, to take the course, to become part of the endeavour.
“Just opening up and saying ‘You’re welcome to try if you want to’ doesn't get over the fact that there have been all sorts of barriers in the way.
“In terms of my political party, before the last election we only had 19 women Members of Parliament. We have around 50 now.
“We have made a big change, but it is only 50 out of 300, so it's not nearly enough, so we need to do more.”
He also praised Samantha’s culinary skills, explaining she cooks a “fantastic” curry.
Asked which Indian dishes he hoped to sample while in the country, he replied: “The last time I came I had some fantastic food, and two times ago I came here to Mumbai and had some particularly good food.
“I am a moderate cook. My wife is very good - she makes a fantastic Kerala fish curry. Sadly, I’m not going to Kerala this time - maybe next time, but I would like to have it as it's made in Kerala and see if it compares with my wife’s.”