29 November 2018
Green Party Women were honoured to be part of an event which saw the House of Commons welcome hundreds of women from across the UK to Westminster to inspire them to stand for political office.
The #AskHerToStand event was held on Nov 21st - the centenary of the Qualification of Women Act when women were first allowed to stand for Parliament or public office. Since then only 491 women have been MPs, compared to 4503 men.
More than 300 women joined their MP for a day in the corridors of power seeing first-hand what it means to be a Member of Parliament. As well as getting a full picture of an MP's day - including Prime Minister's Questions - participants were also invited to take part in inspirational workshops and listen to talks from women politicians such as the Green Deputy Leader Amelia Womack.
Green Deputy Amelia Womack, centre right, with panel host Rosie Duffield, the new Labour MP for Canterbury, Jo Swinson MP (Lib Dem), Maria Miller MP (Conservative & Chair of the Women & Equalities Select Committee) and Phillipa Whiteford MP (SNP), surrounded by women who Phillipa Whiteford MP, along with the women who took part.
Speaking online, Amelia said: "I am where I am in the Green Party because I was asked to stand on several occasions: in 2013 for the European Elections, in 2014 by the Young Greens for deputy leader and in 2015 for Welsh Assembly. We can get more women in Parliament, but women need to be asked - so #AskHerToStand."
Green MP Caroline Lucas was one of the 300 MPs who invited Constituents to join them for the day.
She was joined by Elaine Ortitz (right), a campaigner for human rights, race equality and refugee welfare. In 2015 she set up the Hummingbird Project, a volunteer-led initiative which worked directly with refugees in camps in Calais and Dunkirk. Read more about their day here.
Reflecting on the event, Elaine said: "Politics can feel very male-dominated. As a working class woman I don’t feel properly represented in Parliament – and until today I wouldn’t have known where to start with getting involved."
A room in Church House held stalls (clockwise from us) by the 50:50 Parliament group, the Women’s Equality Party, The Labour Party, The Conservative Party, The Liberal Democrats, The Fawcett Society, and the Jo Cox Foundation with their Great Get Together initiative.
Along with leaflets and goodies to give away supplied by Jean Lambert MEP (including "Why the EU is Good for Women" and some v popular cotton bags which gave 50:50 Parliament a run for their money...!), participants could also find out about the ways Greens support women candidates to run for Parliament, such as the constitutonal requirement to reopen nominations if there are no women candidates.
GPW Committee member RoseMary Warrington said: "It was a really good day, excellent conversations with at least forty women - we were so busy we stayed for 5 hours longer than timetabled! There were women of all ages, from all areas of the country and at least two Green Party members who were with their local MPs. Some women were serious about standing but had not decided on a Party. It was great to talk to them about chosing a Party with one’s heart, what the competition for nominations could be like as well as saying what one could achieve at different levels.
"Representation is an issue at all levels - in local politics only one in three politicians is a women. For women who hadn't experienced election at all, it was important speking to them about how to become a Green councillor at either parish or principle authority level and what support there was available, including the Association of Green Councillors, emphasising that was also for people who wanted to be councillors too, and to engage with their local party for further support and information."
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