Achieving a 50:50 Parliament Should Not Be A Partisan Issue #AskHerToStand

As a woman working in a male-dominated environment in politics, I often have to speak louder, campaign harder, and prove my place in Westminster. I am lucky that I work for someone who supports me as a working mum, but I fear I am in the minority. Some more traditional voices do not like being managed by a woman, especially one with a strong point of view and a feminist lens.

Representation is the core of our liberal democracy, and for women it matters when so many of our decisions are being made by a small faction of society. As Theresa May prepares to leave office, the recent words of Ruth Davidson live with me: “As Britain’s second female Prime Minister, she has been a role model for girls and women across the United Kingdom, showing that there is no glass ceiling to their ambitions.”

Understanding the patriarchy is part of the problem.

As a Conservative Woman, I have a lot of male colleagues who want to help me fight it. The biggest misunderstanding some people have about me, is they think as a feminist that I am opposed to men, and have to be militant in my point of view. As the mother of a little boy, I want my son to join me when he is older, in helping to heal the divide of feminism, and realise that equality is the responsibility of men and women.

I want women to be paid the same as men.

I want women not feel they have to abandon their careers when they have a child.

I want a 50/50 parliament where women are represented.

I am not just discussing Conservative Women. I am the type of woman in politics who encourages all women, regardless of their background or ideology, to step up and consider public office.

There are only 209 women currently serving in the UK Parliament. Whilst we have taken great steps to encourage women, notably the #AskHerToStand campaign and the tireless efforts of the 50/50 Parliament group, Women2Win and the Fawcett Society, we have a lot more to do, especially reaching out to BME candidates.

Representation matters, especially during this turbulent political climate when many people feel disconnected, disenfranchised, and their views unrepresented.

The barriers to women standing for office often stem from confidence, family commitments, or perceived assumptions that they cannot smash that glass ceiling.

As a One Nation Conservative Woman, I have been pushing for social justice, inclusion, equality, and domestic social policy that is fair and compassionate for years. All women in politics need to help in the fight for compromise and respect.

As Conservative Women, we believe in the freedom and opportunity of free markets and the belief of working hard to succeed, we are also the only party that has ever made a woman Prime Minister.

In fact, we’ve done it twice.

If we are to see more women in office, we must utilise the power of action through language and show solidarity with our female counterparts. If you know a great woman who will be a fantastic local councillor or future MP, ask her to stand, and encourage people in your community to get behind her.

I have always believed in politics as being the process by which we make the rules that shape the lives of all of us, both in this country and far beyond. The Conservatives are the party of opportunity and for many women like me, it is where we can be encouraged and supported in our endeavours.

It’s poignant that some of the biggest fighters for equality are female Tory MPs, such as Maria Miller MP who has continually worked on Women and Equalities policy.

To truly be a representative Parliament, we must all work together to campaign for women’s issues, both here in the UK and abroad, and ensure stakeholders like the Fawcett Society and other third-sector organisations can work with Government to ensure Women’s Rights and a commitment to gender parity are at the top of the legislative agenda.

This should not be a partisan issue, and I hope that the Women and Equalities Select Committee, who are currently following up on their ’Women in the House of Commons’ inquiry, will demonstrate that further action can be taken to support female participation in our democracy.

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