Sadiq Khan has called for misogyny to be a hate crime – and labelled himself a “proud feminist” ahead of International Women’s Day yesterday (Sunday).

The Mayor said female gender should be a legally protected characteristic like race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

It is against the law to verbally or physically abuse, intimidate or exploit someone on the basis of these protected characteristics.

But racist or religious motivated offences can be prosecuted more harshly than other hate crimes under current rules.

Mr Khan says he wants to end this two tier system and ensure all hate crime victims are equally protected.

Speaking ahead of the International Women’s Day march in the capital, Mr Khan said safety is his “first priority” as Mayor.

He said: “I want all women to feel safe in London, whether they are going to work or enjoying the culture and entertainment that London has to offer.

“It is time for every Londoner to call out sexist and misogynistic attitudes wherever they encounter them – in the workplace, at school, on the streets or on public transport.

“I am proud to support calls to recognise misogyny as a hate crime and for all hate crimes based on protected characteristics to be treated equally.”

The Law Commission is currently reviewing existing hate crime legislation, with its report expected next year.

It has already suggested that updated laws should create more protected characteristics, including age and gender.

It is time for every Londoner to call out sexist and misogynistic attitudes wherever they encounter them

Over the weekend, other London mayoral candidates have raised their own priorities for gender equality, ahead of the London election on 7 May.

Conservative Shaun Bailey attended yesterday’s women's march with his daughter.

He said: “I come from a community that has so many strong women in it, not least of all my mother, my two gymnastics coaches, my daughter and my wife.

“But I don’t want to send a message that we just look after the women we know – this is about looking after womankind.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Siobhan Benita said more gender diversity in public leadership “really does matter”.

She said: “What’s really struck me is that London – like so many of our cities in this country – is run by men.

“We have far too few women who are council leaders, far too few women who are chief executives of our councils, and we can do so much better than that.”

London has never had a female Mayor, and no women have been metro mayors in other major British cities.

Ms Benita said doubling the number of rape crisis centres in the city, increasing funding for domestic abuse services, and giving all young girls period pants could help tackle gender inequality.

And Green candidate Sian Berry welcomed Mr Khan's promise to challenge all-male Mayoral hustings.

Ms Berry pushed him to take action on the issue at a Women of the World event on Friday.

She said the Mayor's insistence that the May vote is a two-horse race between Labour and the Conservatives was part of the problem.

She said: “What that boils down to in practice is people having hustings that are all male panels. This is something we do not agree with.

"Jonathan Bartley my co-leader [of the Green Party] will not sit on an all-male panel, and the Mayor should not be doing that either.”

“I hope we’ll see more diversity and more women on future hustings panels for London.”