Carol Vorderman ‘disgusted’ by ministers’ attitude to menopause

·4-min read

The TV personality Carol Vorderman has said she is “disgusted” at the behaviour of government equalities ministers, whom she accused of ignoring the needs of menopausal women.

Vorderman said she had been blocked by the minister for women Maria Caulfield on Twitter after saying that Caulfield “couldn’t be bothered to turn up” for questions by a select committee examining the menopause.

Vorderman had accused Caulfield of “lying” about providing alternative dates to the women and equalities committee a week earlier.

The committee said the minister was invited to attend a session on the menopause on Wednesday, and sent her a letter expressing their disappointment they could not get an answer. They said the only received a response from the minister on the dates she was available after the letter was posted on Twitter.

Caulfield in turn tweeted that she had been “abused” by the presenter.

“I am not a punch bag and if you post misleading information about me you will be blocked,” she wrote. “Either you want a meaningful discussion on Twitter or you just want to abuse me. You can’t do both and I don’t have to tolerate the later (sic).”

The leader of the house, Penny Mordaunt, defended the minister in the Commons, saying she had not been able to attend the session because she had a previous engagement, meeting women suffering from a painful condition, and had offered the committee other dates to attend. She said it was “shocking” that people had been encouraged to “troll” the minister.

Before the session Caulfield had posted tweets, which were later deleted, saying she had sent alternative dates a week earlier. This was contested by committee members.

During the evidence session, Vorderman, a patron of the campaign group Menopause Mandate, also criticised the equalities minister Kemi Badenoch who, in a bad-tempered exchange during a committee hearing in March, said the MP and committee member Carolyn Harris was “speaking from a leftwing perspective” by calling for a pilot on menopause leave.

Vorderman said Badenoch had been “patronising” and “insulting” during a discussion about whether the menopause should be a protected characteristic, in which the minister had compared the request to others made by carers, single people or those who had ginger hair or were short.

“This was like going back 100 years to when women just had the vote,” Vorderman said. “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.”

The journalist Mariella Frostrup also gave evidence alongside Karen Arthur, the founder at Menopause Whilst Black, and the documentary maker Kate Muir. Frostrup described the acute shortage of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products as an “indication really of a dismal kind of picture altogether around menopause” in the UK.

Women were regularly getting in touch with the non-profit organisation Menopause Mandate to complain of the difficulty of “accessing coherent and universal advice on menopause”, she said, adding: “It still remains an incredibly difficult postcode lottery in terms of the HRT that you’ll be prescribed.”

The equalities select committee chair, Caroline Nokes, has previously expressed disappointment that the government rejected recommendations made in the committee’s report on the menopause, saying it was a “missed opportunity to protect vast numbers of talented and experienced women from leaving the workforce”.