The Conservatives have committed to ensuring half of their Parliamentary candidates are female. Tory chairman Brandon Lewis said he wanted his to be the "party of equal opportunity" and to remove barriers preventing women from participating. He said women had "all too often" been excluded from having a voice.
Mr Lewis was criticised last month for breaking an agreement allowing Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson, who was on maternity leave, to miss a key Brexit vote. He was supposed to abstain in the crunch votes on the government's Trade Bill so Ms Swinson's absence would not count against her side - but registered his vote anyway.
The Tories apologised and said it was an "honest mistake" - and Mr Lewis addressed the row in his speech, saying voting while on parental leave presented a "particular challenge" for MPs.
He said he had not known he was paired with Ms Swinson, but that "when mistakes are made it's not good enough". Ms Swinson responded on Twitter to his speech, which was titled The Voice of Women in Politics, with a laughing emoji.