Carol Vorderman today tore into two Government ministers during a furious rant in front of MPs, claiming she was ‘absolutely disgusted’ by the pair of them.
Within minutes of taking stand to discuss menopause in the workplace, the TV star criticised Kemi Badenoch for comparing ‘women going through terrible, terrible menopausal symptoms with those with ginger hair’.
Ms Badenoch, No10’s equalities minister, last month dismissed suggestions that the menopause should be given a special legally protected status.
She stated the menopause was on a list of characteristics campaigners had claimed should be written into the Equality Act, just like ‘having ginger hair’ or ‘being short’ and that a menopause leave pilot for women was being proposed from ‘a leftwing perspective’.
Ms Vorderman, patron of campaign group Menopause Mandate, said the comments made to the Women and Equalities Committee were ‘patronising’ and ‘insulting to all women’.
Carol Vorderman, Patron of the Menopause Mandate, answering questions in front of the Women and Equalities Select Committee at the House of Commons, on the subject of Menopause and the workplace
(left to right) Mariella Frostrup, chair of Menopause Mandate; Karen Arthur, founder of Menopause Whilst Black; Carol Vorderman, patron of Menopause Mandate and Kate Muir, menopause expert, author and documentary maker, answering questions in front of the Women and Equalities Select Committee at the House of Commons
During her appearance in front of the same committee, Ms Vorderman, 62, also laid into No10’s health minister Maria Caulfield.
Responding to a question by Tory committee chairwoman Caroline Nokes, on how she would characterize the government’s response to help menopausal women, the ex-Countdown star said: ‘Menopause can be detrimentally lifechanging for a number of women. Nearly 16million women are at work at the moment.
‘And yet, Maria Caulfield cannot be bothered to turn up’
Ms Vorderman, who is patron of campaign group Menopause Mandate and has been vocal about her battle with depression when it happened, added: ‘She’s refused your request to turn up today.
WHAT IS THE MENOPAUSE?
Menopause is when a woman stops having periods, and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
It usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.
It is a normal part of ageing and caused by levels of the sex hormone oestrogen dropping.
Some women go through this time with few, if any, symptoms.
Others suffer from hot flushes, sleeping difficulties, mood swings and brain fog, which can last for months or years and might change over time.
HRT replaces the hormones and is the main treatment used to treat symptoms — which can be severe and disrupt day-to-day life.
Menopause happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.
‘Worse than that, when confronted with this… she said she had written a letter to you with alternative dates a week ago.
‘She was very specific about that and replied to me yesterday when I said that she’d refused to come in and she said “absolutely not true”. She then deleted all that from Twitter later.’
Speaking of Ms Badenoch’s comments, Ms Vorderman said: ‘I could not as a woman – a post-menopausal woman – who is from a working class background, get over the patronising statements that she made.
‘I thought they were insulting to all women.
‘She basically said to Carolyn this was a left wing issue when we were talking about menopause pilot in the workplace and characteristically compared women going through terrible terrible menopausal symptoms with those with ginger hair, to short people.’
Ms Vorderman, who also discussed the menopause during an appearance on ITV’s This Morning today, added: ‘What am I listening to here. It’s the twenty first century, this was like going back 100 years when women just had the vote. I just couldn’t believe it.
‘When women make up almost half of the workforce and yet these are the two women in government who are meant to be representing the female population.
‘I was disgusted to be perfectly honest by both of them. Absolutely disgusted.’
During her appearance, Ms Vorderman also highlighted the difficulties in accessing hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
A lack of supply saw desperate women ration their prescription, swap drugs in car parks, turn to the black market and even look abroad.
Fellow menopause campaigners Mariella Frostrup, chair of Menopause Mandate; Karen Arthur, founder of Menopause Whilst Black and Kate Muir, menopause expert, author and documentary maker, also appeared in front of MPs today.
Ms Frostrup told the committee you need to act like a ‘bully’ to receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.
She also said: ‘GPs in this country, unfortunately the level of training that they go through is minimal to derisory.
‘There are many doctors out there who have probably studied menopause for maybe half an hour or a morning in the entirety of their medical training. It’s an opt-in.’
She added: ‘I hate the idea of it being a class issue. I think we’re going down Kemi Badenoch’s route when we star talking about middle class women versus working class women versus Black women.
‘What’s been amazing about the menopause movement is that all women have come together and actually put their foot down and said we’re not going to take it anymore.
‘I think every middle class woman has absolutely as much right – and I am a working class woman by the way, I’ve just got a very nice accent – I think every woman has got a right to raise her voice about this and should.’
Earlier today, Ms Vorderman also appeared on ITV’s This Morning to discuss her appearance on the committee this afternoon. In the studio, presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield invited viewers to call in and share their experiences about the menopause in the workplace
Mariella Frostup told the committee today that the Government will ‘appoint any number of Tsars and ambassadors. But actually really we’re not a minority interest. We’re 52 per cent of the population. We don’t need actually a woman’s health ambassador or a HRT tsar or a menopause ambassador if we just had equal treatment’
Earlier this month, responding to a call by the Commons Women and Equalities Committee to consult on adding menopause to the Equality Act list, Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch dismissed suggestions that the menopause should be given a special legally protected status
Women going through ‘the change’ can suffer anything from depression and anxiety to vaginal dryness and weight gain
It comes as a report by the Women and Equalities Committee last July had called for urgent action to prevent vast numbers of talented menopausal women quitting their jobs.
This includes the recommendation to consult on making menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and to pilot a specific menopause leave policy.
In the report, the committee said the UK’s lack of action on menopause support has left the economy ‘haemorrhaging talent’, with women quitting their jobs due to a lack of support.
But ministers rejected five of its recommendations outright, in a response that was received three-and-a-half months late.
In a letter explaining its reasoning, the Government said it was concerned that such a move could end up being discriminatory towards men.
Around eight in 10 women going through menopause suffer from problems like hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, low mood or anxiety, and forgetfulness.
Menopause occurs in response to hormonal changes when a woman stops having periods, and usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.
The process — triggered by the ovaries producing less oestrogen — is a natural part of ageing but eight in 10 women will experience menopausal symptoms.
Ms Vorderman told the committee today during the programme ‘we were inundated with women saying about the issues that they have in the workplace’.
But many of them ‘did not want to give their place of work because they were concerned about any retribution that might take place’, she added.
‘I mean it’s ridiculous, it’s absolutely ridiculous and we should call it out for being ridiculous.’
Asked by Ms Nokes on her response to claims that the menopause ‘gets characterised’ as a ‘problem for the middle classes’, Ms Vorderman replied ‘that is absolutely and categorically wrong’.
She added: ‘Perhaps it is middle class women and those with a profile who can have the ability – we are here today – to speak out but there are so many women in the gig economy.
‘There are women at the moment who are struggling to make ends meet. There are women who aren’t earning a lot of money.
‘They are going through a cost-of-living crisis. They are worried about their children and their education. They are worried about energy bills. They could be single mothers.
‘For them to then challenge their place of work because they’re saying “I need help” and that place of work saying “sorry love we’ll get a new one in”, it’s impossible for them.
‘They’re the women who don’t have a voice. And that’s why the select committee and the work you’re doing and the work that menopause mandate is doing and Karen is doing. It’s critical.’
She said: ‘But Jeremy Hunt last week, talking about the budget and we want more people to stay in the workplace. Really?
‘Then why aren’t your ministers here answering the select committee’s questions?
‘Why? Where are they? Maria Caulfield was having a cup of tea when we were having lunch over in Portcullis House. That’s not much of an example is it.’