Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Women Are Worthy of So Much More

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Women Are Worthy of So Much More

Article excerpt

Byline: GILL HALE

HOW many women, reading this column today, know that last year marked the 90th anniversary of women winning the right to vote and the right to be elected to Parliament? Yet over these 90 years, only 291 women were elected to the House of Commons compared with 4,363 men.

Statistics show that women are still woefully under-represented in public life and elected positions. In this country only 20% of MPs are women and this figure drops to 16% for Members of the European Parliament.

A mere 30% of councillors are women and only 15% of council leaders.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission, in its report Sex and Power, calculates that it will take 200 years for women to achieve equal representation in Parliament. When it comes to comparisons on the world stage the picture is shameful.

The United Kingdom ranks 70th and who would believe that we are outperformed by Rwanda, Afghanistan and Iraq? There appears to be a perception that politics is something that men 'do'. That it's about sitting around in endless meetings discussing the finer points of a book by Marx. What woman, busy juggling work, caring duties and running a home, would be tempted to spend precious time in this way? But, of course, that's only a small part of the story. Politics isn't just about dry debates: it's about real issues that matter to real people.

Women care about their children's education, about making their neighbourhoods safer, about local health services and about the health of the planet. And that's politics too.

In all of these areas women can make a difference by becoming involved. Worried about education? Become a governor at your children's school or join the parent-teacher association. That's politics.

Concerned about healthcare? Your local involvement network can help you join with individuals and community groups to improve local services. …

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