The Parliament Project: Why we need YOU to consider a political future

Hannah Stevens is the programme manager of The Parliament Project. Here she explains why we need more diversity in politics and how you can learn more about getting involved.

Talat Yaqoob Director of Equate Scotland leading the Equate Scotland team speaking during the Scotland's Women Stand event The aim of the event was to bring together women of all ages, backgrounds, political affiliations and none, to a day full of inspiration, information and motivation, to explore their political purpose and path.  The day is part of positive change towards the goal of gender equal political representation. 07 September 2019. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

We look at images of MPs in the House of Commons and don’t see a reflection of ourselves. At the last election, 220 of the 650 MPs were women, that is a lousy 34%, up from 32% (208) at the 2017 election. At this rate, it will be another 32 years before we see gender parity in Parliament. 

The picture is the same at local level with women representing just 35% of local councillors. In a country where women make up 51% of our population, this just isn’t good enough. The poor representation of disabled women, young women, working-class women, LGBTQ+ women, deaf women and women of colour reflects the reality of our communities even less. We want our political landscape to represent that broad diversity of our population in all its glorious forms.

Read more: What it’s like to be a politician

BAME women in politics

Diversity in politics

If we’re serious about making our politics represent the communities that we live in, then we need people with a rich variety of lived experiences sitting at the decision-making table. At The Parliament Project we are committed to encouraging women to stand for elected office across all spheres of government in Scotland and England. When we talk about women, we aren’t talking about one homogenous group: we are talking about a rich variety of women with intersecting identities and lived experiences. 

A Parliament Project event encouraging more women from diverse backgrounds to get into politics

What is The Parliament Project?

The Parliament Project is a non-partisan project to inspire, empower and encourage women to run for political office in the UK. Focusing on practical, hands-on training and support, we run workshops to demystify the process for women wanting to get involved in politics and online peer support circles to support women’s political ambitions more deeply.

Active across England and Scotland, nearly 3,500 women have attended our workshops in the last three years. We are creating a groundswell of women entering political parties to ultimately achieve 51% female representation in all spheres of politics.  

Online workshops

As the COVID pandemic has impacted the way we all live our lives, we have had to cancel the city-based workshops that we had planned for this year.  In its place, we have curated a programme of online workshops that we hope can give women across the UK the knowledge and information that they need to move forward on their political pathway.

We’re delivering sessions around four key themes; Why Politics?, Exploring Roles, How to Stand and Life as a Candidate. These are FREE workshops for women with some political experience or none. We are also collaborating with Muslim Women’s Network UK to deliver a series of conversations about Getting Into Politics as a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic Woman

Making an impact

There are so many women demonstrating leadership in their communities at the moment, coordinating Mutual Aid groups, volunteering in foodbanks, raising funds for NHS Charities Together.. the list is endless. People doing that work wouldn’t call it politics, but it is. Politics is taking care of our communities so that their people can live their best lives. If you have the generosity of spirit to spend time investing in your neighbours, then why not consider doing that for slightly more people?  The sooner we see a greater representation of all people in our elected offices, the greater the impact will be seen across our society.

To find out more about The Parliament Project and its free online workshops, visit: www.parliamentproject.co.uk

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