How 5050 Parliament is talking about gender politics and why we should listen.

50/50 parliament, kettle mag, sian bradley
Written by sianabigail

Politics drives this country through giving MPs the power to change laws, hold debates and make campaigns. The most important decisions of our country are made in the Commons, decisions which change the course of our lives. The question therefore remains; why are these decisions made predominantly by men? 

50:50 Parliament campaign

Frances Scott asked this question, and decided enough was enough and set up the the 50:50 Parliament campaign with a petition at change.org/5050Parliament.

This activist has a strong and well-founded desire for better gender balance in Parliament and wants Party Leaders and Parliament to debate this historic problem and sort it out. She says “It’s strange that we have only ever had 450 women MPs [historically],when there are 459 men in the Commons right now. 50:50 want Parliament to come up with solutions. I would like a more gender balanced Parliament which includes the best of both, men and women, working together in order to build a better society for everyone.”

50:50 aspire to a Parliament where women and men legislate the laws of our land together in roughly equal numbers. Women have experience and opinions concerning many aspects life and some topics affect them more than men. The work that women do and the roles that women have in society are relevant and important.  

Scott says  “Women have a wealth of experience, expertise, skills and talent. Parliament needs them.”  

Dubbed the “21st century Suffragettes”, this movement echoes a lifetime of women’s struggle for equality, and it’s really gaining momentum. 

Scott said: “I think the Suffragettes were fighting a much bigger cause than ours, but I feel like we’re trying to finish the job.”  

The time for change is now

The time for change is now, as we live in a democracy where men outnumber women MPs more than 2:1. There are 268 more men in the Commons, they occupy 459 (71%) of the 650 seats, whereas women have only 191 (29%) seats. I believe this echoes the political struggle women have always faced. Cast your mind back to 1918, when women were finally granted the right to vote. Women died for this right, and now we need to continue this fight. The 50:50 campaign is supported by all genders, men and women have united in this together because better balance benefits everyone. The first MP in the campaign t-shirt was Ben Bradshaw

The validity of a politicians view is not based on their gender, and I’m not stating that more women means better decisions. Nor do I believe that equality can merely be based on the ratio. I do, however, feel strongly about how presence can equal power. As Prof Joni Lovenduski observed ‘ Evidence from more balanced legislatures than ours shows that as membership of women increases so does the sensitivity of male MPs to the range of women’s concerns. So men can act for women, but they may  be more likely to do so when there are more women around.’

The more we expose and allow women a podium to share their opinions, the more we move towards a society in which their opinions are valued. 

Miss Scott, whose passion for fairness is instantly apparent, said: “Women sitting on the front benches provide role models but we need women on the back benches as well. It’s good for women to seen to be playing a part in Parliament and public life. ”

Visibility of women in a range of careers is beneficial to all of society. If there were more women in Parliament newspaper coverage and the public perception of women would become more balanced, it would be necessary to report their opinions, ideas and actions. It’s important to share political power because we need to smash the glass ceiling which holds so many women down, and allow them to flourish in a job which has been so out of reach. 

I’m tired of gender being the how and why we decide whether someone is suited to a job, how well they will do it, how they should think act and breathe. We should be concentrating on combining all individual and unique ability. 

Scott said: “50:50 is about harmony, not division. We are talking about women and men working together.” 

50:50 Parliament is a cross-party non-partisan organisation campaigning for a principle. Famous faces from all sides of the political spectrum agree with their aspiration, there are many photographs of MPs in their campaign t-shirt on www.5050Parliament.co.uk.

The All Party Parliamentary Group Report “Improving Parliament” July 2014 states  “All parties are united in their belief that gender parity is critical to having a modern aspirational and representative Parliament.”

However, the Suffragette saying we need “Deeds not Words” is still relevant. Recently labour leader favourite Jeremy Corbyn, also says he wants to front a cabinet which is 50% women and wants to “work towards” an even balance across Labour MPs. Both the granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, Dr Helen Pankhurst, and Philippa Bilton; an ancestor of the famous suffragette Emily Wilding Davison who died on Derby Day, support the campaign. 

Miss Bilton signed the petition “so that ancestor suffragette did not die on Derby Day for women to be still fighting for equal representation 100 years on”

50:50 is here and rightly so, because without it, at the current rate, it could take over half a century to achieve equality. 

Frances Scott is the founder and director of 50:50 Parliament, and she is working hard to raise awareness of this aspirational campaign. 

To be part of this historic movement for change: Sign and share the 50:50 Parliament Petition at change.org/5050Parliament

Like facebook.com/5050Parliament

Follow twitter @5050Parliament

Become a 50:50 Ambassador and help spread the word of inclusion in politics email : 5050parliament@gmail.com 

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