A key focus of CPA UK’s work is achieving representative democracies by helping women promote themselves in parliaments across the Commonwealth, and developing the skills they need to succeed in their work.
In the year of Vote100, CPA UK hosted an event in recognition of Parliament Week entitled ‘Empowering Women’s Voices in Parliament’ looking at how women can effectively access, connect with and influence politics both outside and inside Parliament.
CPA UK Deputy Chief Executive Helen Haywood was delighted to welcome panellists Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Baroness Jenkin of Kennington, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Women2Win, and Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee.
The importance of women supporting other women was a key theme of Angela Rayner MP’s contribution to the panel discussion. She spoke about her visit with the CPA UK to Sierra Leone in September 2018 where she met with women parliamentarians as well as women who lost their seats in the last election. Rather than seeing each other a rivals, she encouraged the two groups to support and share their experiences to help one another. Angela commented that women in public life need other women to be sisters, and that they themselves need to help other women when they reach a position of influence.
Our second speaker, Baroness Jenkin, spoke about her great grandfather, Willoughby Dickinson who was elected to the House of Commons in 1906. He introduced a women’s suffrage bill every year until the First World War and his proposal was finally accepted after the rejection of all the proposals for universal suffrage. Baroness Jenkin co-founded Women2Win with the Prime Minister Rt Hon Theresa May MP to encourage more women into politics. She spoke about the value of offering development training and helping women navigate the election process in order to ensure the UK Parliament is representative of the country. She encouraged women to be courageous and have the confidence to put themselves forward or others they know to stand.
Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee and Chair of the CPA UK Executive Committee, spoke about being the 265th woman ever to be elected to Parliament when she stood in 2005. Maria didn’t expect to become an MP as she didn’t see women like her in Parliament at the time. She spoke about the importance of the Women and Equalities Select Committee in scrutinising and challenging the Government on equality issues. She explained how the UK has some of the best equality laws in the world, but it is not good at implementing them in practice. Maria and her committee colleagues continue to pressure the UK Parliament for a better working environment for women using the media to keep issues at the top of the agenda.
It was a real pleasure to have such an engaged audience from outside Parliament asking pertinent questions to the panellists. May we extend a huge thanks to our speakers, Angela, Anne and Maria.
CPA UK hopes the event has inspired our audience to engage to a greater extent with the UK Parliament. If you are interested in finding out more about getting involved in politics, you can visit this website https://5050parliament.co.uk/ and follow #askhertostand.