Harriet Harman has told Theresa May: “It’s not good enough to just be a woman Prime Minister, it’s what you deliver for the women in your country.”
May will succeed David Cameron on Wednesday following Andrea Leadsom’s withdrawal from the Conservative party leadership race.
The current Home Secretary will become only this country’s second female Prime Minister, after Margaret Thatcher and, while Harman believes that sends out an important message, she insists that is only the start.
She told Drive with Delaney: “It’s important because it’s more difficult for people to say to girls or women, ‘you can’t do this because you’re a woman’ because the person at the top of the country, the Prime Minister, is a woman.
“The real question is, what will she do for the women in this country? It’s not good enough to just be a woman Prime Minister, it’s what you deliver for the women in your country.
"They’ve closed children’s centres all around the country. She should U-turn on that and open those centres up because it’s mostly women who are looking after young children as well as holding down a job and they need to be sure they’ve got affordable and accessible childcare.
“She needs to make sure the police have the resources and leadership they need to actually stop domestic violence, which kills two women every week.
“She needs to make sure our foreign office and our international development department helps women abroad, as well as her government helping women at home.
"She needs to have 50 per cent of her cabinet to be women, and 50 per cent of all her ministers to be women. And if she does that, it will be more than just having a woman in Downing Street, it will actually be a woman who’s advanced things for other women."