Lee Chalmers, Founder & Director of The Parliament Project.
People often ask me why I am interested in politics. It doesn’t have the best reputation, people love to moan about politicians, but I can’t stop thinking about and focusing on politics because it matters so much. Politicians are our leaders. In a functioning democracy we elect the best of us, the people we want to lead us into unknown futures, in peace time and war time, in times of plenty and times of less. With the UK in political turmoil never has that been truer and we can’t wash our hands of our choices of leaders. We also can’t pretend that we are not involved.
So I come back to politics, as leadership, and see women’s role in this so clearly. We are the grafters, the doers, the ones who care for the young and the old. We do so much unpaid work for the good of our families, friends and communities and often don’t receive even respect in return. Women are more than capable of leading us and I refuse to believe it when people say that women simply don’t want to engage in politics. We are all over politics, in campaigns for health care, for schools, in the IndyRef, for the environment, for gender equality, for country and town. We are on the PTA’s, we volunteer in the rape crisis shelters and the charity shops. We listen, we learn and we know how to fix things and soothe pain. Now, 100 years since women got the right to stand for election, I believe the time has come for women to move into politics in even increasing numbers.
This is why The Parliament Project exists and why the #ScotWomenStand campaign launching on Nov 21st 2018 is so important to us. And why it is especially important to be working with The Young Women’s Movement to inspire a generation of women and girls to step into the political leadership positions that will determine our future.
Though there are many known barriers to women’s participation, there are also women in Scotland working on overcoming them, like COSLA focusing on what Councillors can do to help other women into Council seats, to the Equal Representation Coalitions tool to assess what political parties can do to unblock their processes to women, to Women 50:50 working tirelessly to make the case for quotas for women’s representation on boards and in Government. Scotland has never been better placed to push up our women in politics and we must all work hard to ensure our elections in 2020/2021 are the most gender equal ever.
The #ScotWomenStand campaign will focus on the information women need to understand political process and include a diverse range of political women’s voices as they share their inspirations, journeys and advice for women wanting to take on a political role. Topics will cover the basics of being registered to vote, to understating our democratic processes and institutions, choosing a party and a political goal, finding a voice online and off, building a team and running a campaign.
This year marks 100 years since women got the right to vote and the right to stand for election. Much has been made of the voting, not much of the standing and this needs to change. Your Country needs you. #ScotWomenStand