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Economist Vicky Pryce, who spent two months in prison earlier this year, has said that women behind bars have "special needs".
She said it was not a case of making prison "softer" for female offenders, but of minimising the wider impact and costs on society.
Pryce was sentenced to eight months in prison in March for perverting the course of justice by taking speeding points for her former husband Chris Huhne in 2003.
Labour's shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan has described the government's prison reforms as "tinkering around the edges" of the problem.
Khan told Daybreak that it should be investing in more women's treatment centres and more smaller prisons. He said in an earlier statement: "With only a small number of scattered women’s prisons, the concept of local resettlement is almost meaningless."
The new plan to try and tackle female offending is being set out to work alongside Transforming Rehabilitation reforms in which every offender receives 12 months of tailored support as they leave prison.
With the aim of trying to cut reoffending and trigger further falls in the female prison population, a new open unit at HMP Styal is to focus on helping women into jobs on release.
Several reports to be published later today, including The Government's response to the Justice Select Committee report on Women Offenders: After the Corston Report and the NOMS Women's Custodial Estate Review, are set to help feed in to the new approach towards tackling female offending.
Female inmates will serve their sentences closer to home and will be offered skills to help find work upon their release under new reforms revealed.
Under the proposals, low risk offenders will be encouraged to undertake practical training so they can seek employment following their jail term.
The reforms, unveiled by Justice minister Lord McNally, who is also the minister for female offenders, call for all women's prisons to become resettlement prisons so that women are close to home and are re-integrated into society.
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "Trying to improve women's imprisonment would be a waste when the best way to reduce women's offending is to invest in treatment for addictions, mental healthcare, training for work and safe housing away from domestic violence and abuse."