The EU referendum campaign has been dominated by men, while women have been excluded from the historic debate, Harriet Harman has warned. The top Labour MP has complained to media watchdog OfCom in a bid to make sure women are represented better on broadcast outlets in the run-up to the 23 June vote.
"Half the population of this country are women and our membership of the EU is important to women's lives. Yet men are – as usual – pushing women out," Harman said. "Women are being excluded and the debate narrowed. "
"The broadcasters have a legal duty to keep a balance between those who want to remain and those who want to leave. They should have a balance between men and women. This referendum is too important to be left to men."
The comments coincided with Labour's research into the gender divide of guests on top programmes discussing the EU referendum.
The party claimed just 17% of politicians on BBC Radio 4's Today programme since January were women, while female spokespeople made up 28% of guests on ITV's Good Morning Britain.
Harman's warning came as a report from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) claimed a Brexit could "turn the clock back" on women's rights, hitting equal pay and protection against pregnancy discrimination.
Labour MP Gisela Stuart, the chair of Vote Leave, said it was "deeply misleading" to suggest leaving the EU would put workers' rights at risk.
"The best way to ensure that workers' rights are protected is to have a parliament that is directly accountable to the people; in other words, to put power back in people's hands," she said.
"The EU prevents that, and means that unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats can impose rules and regulations that the British people have no say over."
The latest online opinion poll from Opinium, of more than 2,000 people between 17 and 19 May, put remain four points ahead of leave (44% versus 40%), with 14% of respondents undecided.