After a month spent settling into my new role, I took some time out of my local Councillor schedule to attend an informal Westminster tea and coffee session with Meg Munn MP (pictured next to me in the centre), the Deputy Minister for Women at the new Department for Housing, Local Government and Communities.
I joined five other “young” (do I still count as young?!) people, working in and around British politics, for a really good discussion about women and politics. How can we get more women interested in local politics? Could electing more female councillors be a way to attract more women into Parliament?
Among many subjects, we talked about the work that the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr), where I worked briefly in late 2003, and think tank the New Politics Network, will be doing, to look at ways the Government could marry up the the gender equality and social exclusion agendas, which are very closely linked.
I shared some of my experiences from my own local election campaign with the Minister. There is no doubt in my mind that without the strong support of local women – like the Beaumont Estate mums whose campaign I’m helping to obtain funding for a summer scheme – I would not have been elected. I desperately wish to see more women getting involved in politics at all levels, because we have a lot to offer the political system and really make a difference when we get involved.
I will be working closely with my colleagues in the local, regional and national Labour party to gather ideas on making politics a more attractive life choice for women.
I express my thanks to Ellie Levenson, who helped arrange the session, for inviting me along. It was fascinating and I took away many new ideas.