Politics isn’t just for men. It’s time to take part.
Although I’m aware I may sound like a broken record, ladies, trust me when I say your vote is incredibly important. So stepping away from my comments on the female leaders, it’s time to focus on the everyday woman.
She can come in any shape and size; she can be the career-driven businesswoman, she can be the married mother of three, she can be the single mother successfully juggling a job and childcare, the student who now has her first chance to vote… I could go on. We don’t settle directly into those few categories – we’re just as diverse as men. This is why all of us have our own political preference – some parties match our needs better than others.
However, it is perfectly fine to recognise that each party has a different offering for each person, each member of the electorate, each woman. But what is not fine is that although each party has an agenda for women, they still lack an offer for female equality in politics.
I’d really love if this election could change that.
Let’s focus on the facts and figures. Nine million women didn’t vote in the last election – a higher proportion than our male counterparts. And fewer women are voting now than they were in the ‘80s. Why are less women voting than men? And why the sudden drop? Then turning to representation. Under a quarter of our MPs are female. We have a parliament that is dominated by white males. Where is the diversity?
We’ve come a long way since the first female vote in 1918. But in that time, less female MPs have entered parliament than the total number of males elected in 2010. Change is afoot, and yes, this year has been particularly ground-breaking.
But how can we speed this up? How can we turn this around? What can you personally do to change this?
First off, make sure you visit your local polling station on the 7th May (and I do hope you’ve registered to vote).
Secondly, get involved where you can. There are petitions online; sign to get the party leaders to address the gender imbalance in parliament here. The tampon tax campaign is still in full swing – share it on social media. Help stop women being shamed for their appearance in the media (I’m sure you’re aware of the splash Protein World’s ‘Are You Beach Body Ready?’ campaign caused). Make a stand against violence against women.
These are all issues that affect us as women, and yes, they all do have a political agenda. Start getting us noticed. Let’s prove we’re interested, that politics isn’t a man’s game, that there isn’t some mythical barrier that stops us from taking part.
Make equality a reality not a theory.