On women, I have pledged to
- Champion policy to give women the means to participate in society, politics and work by campaigning for better childcare, flexible working and services and against domestic violence, rape and harassment.
Only 29% of all MPs and 43% of Labour MPs are women. In order to redress this imbalance, the Labour party has chosen to use all women shortlists in selected constituencies. This has been proven to increase representation of women and ensure that women’s voices are heard, women’s needs are met, women’s influence is felt.
In Colchester we have an example of how the all women’s shortlist encourages strong women candidates to put themselves forward. There are 5 candidates, all electable, all capable of leadership in our party and in our country. Most excitingly, the field of candidates includes representatives from a diversity of backgrounds who are also under-represented in parliament including BME, LGBTQ+, working class, single Mum, and a wide range of age and experience. The group also comes with a variety of views about Labour, different priorities, but the same core values and all loyal to the current leadership, manifesto and the current policies.
The selection process is new to Colchester and one thing I am looking forward to in the future is the benefit of women’s influence on this process. The traditional, male dominated selection tended to be aggressive and adversarial. In business and other areas women have often shown themselves to be more cooperative and mutually supportive. I look forward to this changing for the better across all constituencies – women and men reaching out collectively to all the members.
Women are sometimes inclined to build their legitimacy based on their relationships to men – ‘my husband, my father…’ When we have more women in leadership positions confidence will grow and there will surely be more balanced references. It is also evident that some candidates are more or less managed by men as the female figurehead of a particular group or faction. I hope to see an end to factions and a focus on policy as well as personal strengths.
When there is a representative gender balance in parliament, policies which enable women to participate will get the attention they deserve, instead of being sidelined. The policies of ‘austerity’ have impacted disproportionately on women.
I believe that we are the poorer for often wasting or ignoring the skills and experience of women.