He has refused to associate himself with the term or wear a T-shirt endorsing it for a campaign – but David Cameron “is a feminist”, Nicky Morgan has said.
Asked whether there was something innately sexist about the Prime Minister’s controversial “calm down dear” comment to Labour’s Angela Eagle in a Commons debate, the Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities stood up for Mr Cameron as someone who is “on the side of women”.
Speaking on Sky News’ Murnaghan programme to mark International Women’s Day, Ms Morgan was not asked directly about the Prime Minister’s refusal last year to join Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Benedict Cumberbatch in wearing a T-shirt for Elle magazine declaring “This is what a feminist looks like”.
Mr Cameron instead gave Elle a long quote saying he “passionately believe[s] that everyone has a part to play in achieving full equality for women and girls” – again avoiding the word “feminist”.
But Ms Morgan told Sky: “He (Mr Cameron) absolutely is a feminist. He is on the side of women and he has done a huge amount to get women into the Cabinet.
“You think about all the women who are in the Cabinet at the moment, they are Conservatives. The Lib Dems have not put any women MPs into the Cabinet.
“The prime minister is absolutely on the side of making sure that women have the best possible opportunities, as is the chancellor, as are I think all of my male colleagues.”
Ms Morgan denied that Mr Cameron’s economic policies had disproportionately affected women during his time in power, and said that she didn’t “personally” find the raucous, male-dominated atmosphere of Prime Minister’s Questions intimidating.
But she admitted that “the tone of the debate when you get women… is very different,” adding: “We need more women in Parliament.”
“Prime minister's questions is a tiny part of the week, in fact standing up and speaking in the House of Commons is a tiny part of what MPs do,” she said.
“The work we do in our constituencies, our surgeries, helping people, making the case for our areas to government. That is something that women are absolutely brilliant at doing.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies