International Women’s Day: Chloe Hutchinson on the difference of having more young women in politics

Chloe Hutchinson is one of the brightest talents in our party. She heads up the South Wales West list for the Senedd elections this year. She gave a keynote speech to Welsh Conference yesterday about the difference Welsh Lib Dems can make in May. Let’s hope Chloe is elected because she would be a powerful voice for liberty and equality.

We have just 8 weeks left in what is one of the most important, and probably strangest, elections that many of us have fought. COVID 19 has had a devastating impact on our communities and it is essential that the next Welsh Government puts recovery first. From calling people across your communities to check in, to supporting local foodbanks and leading volunteer groups – thank you for everything you have done.

Thank you too for everything you have done so far and are continuing to do to help us get our message out to voters and rebuild a liberal base, offering real choice to our communities ahead of this election.

It is a privilege to be standing for this party and to be supported by so many of you here. That support means even more to me as a young woman engaging in politics when the average politician does not look like me. Now things have been getting better, slowly. Following the 2019 election 34% of the MPs elected to parliament were women, the highest ever. In Wales, we were ahead of the curve – in 2003 50% of Senedd members were women. However only 28% of councillors in Wales are women, and a woman of colour has never been elected to the Welsh Parliament, and we are at real risk of electing even less women this May.

Whether you want to run for a parliamentary seat or local council, campaign to get others elected or on an issue you are passionate about – get involved. 

This May, we will also see 16 and 17 year olds in Wales being able to vote for the first time, something we have long campaigned for. Now, I first got involved in politics during the 2014 European election, researching the issues and debating with my friends. I decided that I liked what the Liberal Democrats stood for. It just made sense. Unfortunately, I was just 6 days too young to vote. 

A few months later, angry at the number of UKIP MEPs I was now represented by and inspired by a campaign run by fantastic young woman, I decided to go to a youth conference and quickly got involved in Young Liberals, or more specifically IR Cymru.

From campaigns for cheaper bus travel, a youth parliament, more inclusive and cheaper school uniforms, and a new relationship and sexuality education that is inclusive to LGBT+ people, includes consent, and empowers young people to have healthy relationships, it has been fantastic to see young Liberal Democrats bring these to conference and even better to see them put into practice by Welsh Liberal Democrats in the Senedd. 

This weekend we have debated and passed policy that puts recovery first.

From introducing a right to adequate housing, in a time when a safe and decent home has never been more important. To investing in our mental health services, better linking up our mental health support and other public services enabling us to tackle the root causes of poor mental health.

These ideas, and others debated this weekend, would make the world of difference to people across South Wales West and the rest of Wales, where too many people are stuck on long mental health waiting lists for, living on the streets or living in poor quality housing that does not meet their needs. We can do better.

We have seen how ideas proposed and passed at our conferences can be enacted in the Senedd. But that will not happen without electing more Welsh Liberal Democrats. So, let’s get out there and fight for a fairer, greener and more caring Wales

Diolch yn fawr

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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