Author Archives: Meera Chadha

No woman is an island

It seems fitting that this year on 21 November we celebrate #AskHerToStand Day at the same time as Kamala Harris makes history as the first female Vice President elect in the USA.

Whilst the world and our lives have changed so dramatically since our own Parliamentary Election 12 months ago, for me the memories are still very fresh (or is it raw?) as I remember my experience as a first-time candidate.

Deciding to stand wasn’t an easy decision – not only was I standing for election for the first time in the middle of a very wet, cold winter, but I was changing jobs and in the early stages of pregnancy with my second child. I had to weigh up the physical and emotional demands that come with growing a human alongside my desire to stand up for the issues I believe in.

In truth, this isn’t something men have to deal with – even when they do have young families, it isn’t quite the same physical impact and Mummy Guilt is pretty powerful at the best of times! Early on, I enlisted the support of my family, who helped in numerous ways – from cooking meals and doing nursery pick-ups to delivering leaflets and being my test audience for hustings. My partner rallied me when I was feeling unsure or overwhelmed and stepped in to take on my share of our domestic life. It left me feeling loved and incredibly lucky.

My experience is neatly captured in this short documentary, following my eager enthusiasm and the ups and downs of a winter election where the national picture is going against you.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments

Six things I learnt from Lib Dem Virtual Conference

1. Multitasking is a benefit and a hindrance

It was hugely enabling to be able to attend lively, stimulating debates and hear from the great and the good on how we can make Britain better for everyone, whilst in my slippers and nursing my baby. It meant that my other half didn’t have to manage our toddler on his own for a weekend and we could still enjoy our family meals and bedtimes together. The downside was that we still had family meals and bedtimes: my ability to get fully immersed in conference life, meeting people, attending sessions, ruminating on what had been discussed was diminished because in between or even during sessions, I was trying to soothe a crying child or distract a toddler from a tantrum. It felt great to be able to juggle family and political life, but it is a juggle – and there were definitely moments where I felt I was doing neither justice.

My learning: I should treat virtual conference like real conference, and ensure I book out time and space to get engaged rather than seeing it as an opportunity to do it all.

2. Virtual sessions enable the speakers to speak and the audience to listen

How many times at a conference or event does the room get dominated by the loudest voice or someone who pretends they have a question when what they really just want is a mic? The video nature of sessions during online conference enabled us to hear from the panel, and for the chat to highlight the biggest talking points that should be put to the panel, rather than the Chair somewhat rolling the dice based on who put their hands up. The best sessions were ones where there was someone monitoring the chat and able to feed back to the Chair on what common or contentious discussion points were, and then where the Chair made best use of the people and time to field this. I would love to see real life Chairs able to be so strong in managing the room and conversation to keep things on point.

3. Video should bring down the barriers for people to speak rather than put people off.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 1 Comment
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