Tag Archives: campaign for gender balance

Equal Power, and how you can make it happen

I think Equal Power is the first book I have ever pre-ordered. I started reading it the day it came out. When I tweeted about that, Jo Swinson replied, and I promised her I would review it as soon as I finished reading it.

Several months later…..

My post hoc justification for my tardiness is that, to coin a phrase, a review is something best tasted cold. And I find that my opinions about the book have not changed since I first read it.

I found “Equal Power, and how you can make it happen” very powerful indeed. Not because the material was new to me – most of it was not – but because of the way Swinson treats it. She combines statistics and research evidence, other people’s stories and her own experience in a compelling way. The trick with such material is always in the way the combination is made. Statistics are devoid of life and stories lack width in applicability. Swinson combines the two admirably well in a very readable style. She then delivers much of the punch in the book through recounting her own personal experience. And, very importantly, every chapter ends with a summary of actions that everyone can take to improve gender equality.

She gives herself the space to lay out more than simple arguments. She discusses some of the underlying ideas and languages behind many of our attitudes. She notes in particular (around p31) the use of the word “illiberal”, something I have experienced myself, particularly in discussions about gender issues, being used with the evident purpose of closing an argument. “I’m against all women shortlists because they are illiberal.” Of course they are, but you cannot end it there. You have to show why they are more illiberal than the current system which routinely and significantly discriminates in favour of people like me.*  (Jo does not favour all-women shortlists, but for better reasons.)

Posted in Books | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

Have YOU joined Liberal Democrat Women?

Liberal Democrat Women will formally come into being on 8 June, the culmination of 18 months’ work bringing together the party’s existing women’s organisations: Campaign for Gender Balance and Women Liberal Democrats. In launching Liberal Democrat Women we want to create a more powerful platform for all Liberal Democrats – male and female – who want to see gender equality in Westminster and beyond.

Liberal Democrat Women will focus on 4 core areas of activity: policy, campaigns, women’s representation and networking. It will do everything its predecessor organisations did, and hopefully much more.

To realise this bold ambition we need YOUR help. We need new talent for the first Liberal Democrat Women Executive, which will …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

Final Call – Applications For Campaign for Gender Balance’s “Future Women MPs” Weekend

This has already been widely publicised through CGB’s mailing lists and at joint WLD/ CGB events in Brighton, but, for any LDV readers who may have missed it, here are details again. Please note the deadline for applications was today but has now been extended until Monday 22 October.

FUTURE WOMEN MPs WEEKEND

23rd – 25th November 2012

London

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Opinion: Cross-Party Support for Job-Sharing

What do Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, the Conservatives’ Peter Bottomley and our own Jenny Willott have in common? They’ve all signed up to this Early Day Motion tabled by Liberal Democrat MP for Ceredigion, Mark Williams.

Mark’s motion welcomes a recent report, Job-Sharing at Senior Level: Making It Work, highlighting that job-sharing can stem the ‘female brain drain’ by enabling more women to progress into senior roles while combining work with family. It notes a striking finding that 80% of highly qualified women wish to work part-time and calls on the Government to consider the implications of this in the context of …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Opinion: “I don’t like them, you don’t like them… We have to have them”

This Saturday, Conference has the opportunity to show that Liberal Democrats are genuinely committed to achieving gender balance in our own distinctively liberal and democratic way.

Conference will debate an amendment which Jo Shaw and I have put forward to Mark Pack and Paul Tyler’s Lords reform motion. Our amendment builds on the approach taken by our party in the late 1990s, when one-off zipping was used to deliver a gender-balanced cohort of Lib Dem MEPs in the first PR elections to the European Parliament.

In an ideal world we wouldn’t need these kinds of measures. But with just 12% women …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 14 Comments

Dinti Batstone writes… If not now, when?

Notice anything about this 5-minute BBC report on House of Lords reform? While it talks of ‘revolution in the air’, every interviewee is a white middle aged man.

Yet House of Lords reform could – if the Coalition chooses to make it so – prove a game-changing opportunity to promote the cause of gender balance at Westminster.

Our Commons party consists of just 12% women and the Commons as a whole barely 22%. The reasons for this are complex and different in each party, but electoral volatility and a leaky pipeline of female candidates are two major factors for the Liberal …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 13 Comments

Opinion: Where are the girls?

There are more Labour MPs called Ann than women Lib Dem MPs. There are more ‘David’s in the coalition cabinet than women. How can we dare to call ourselves a progressive party whilst continuing to operate tacit acceptance of male domination? And, just as importantly, why are more women not banging on the doors of power, trying to become PPCs and councilors? Why is the organisation I intern for, Women Liberal Democrats, limited to one part-time staffer and a fast-diminishing grant? Virginia Woolf famously wrote that women needed independent means in order to pursue professional careers – “a room of …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 27 Comments

The party’s diversity dilemma

The party’s efforts to have a more diverse Parliamentary Party have long suffered from the historic legacy of an all white and all male House of Commons Parliamentary Party. Whilst the gender balance amongst newly won constituencies has vastly improved, the overall balance of the party was kept heavily male by the party’s failure to ever select a woman to succeed a retiring man in a held Parliamentary seat. For the 2010 general election the party had finally cracked the problem – with half the retiring male MPs succeeded by female candidates.

But in a cruel twist, all of these women …

Posted in News | 30 Comments

Female MPs: how’s the party doing?

We’ve twice covered the question of gender balance in (Westminster) politics in recent days with the challenge from the Fawcett Society What about women? and Dinti Batstone’s call to Make politics fit women’s lives, not vice-versa.

With party conference in Birmingham about to start, we now have the latest figures on how the party is doing at getting a less male-dominated Parliamentary party. The Campaign for Gender Balance reports:

  • Winnable seats: approximately 40% of our most winnable seats have women PPCs.
  • Held seats: 4 out of the 8 seats that have MPs standing down have selected women.

The last point is particularly important as, …

Posted in Selection news | Leave a comment

Opinion: Make politics fit women’s lives, not vice-versa

For today’s women “motherhood, not sexism, is the issue”. So says The Economist (“We Did It”, 30 December 2009), noting that “women who prosper in high-pressure companies in their 20s drop out in dramatic numbers in their 30s and then find it almost impossible to regain earlier momentum”.

Could the same be true in politics?

Nearly 80% of current male Lib Dem MPs first entered Parliament in their 30s and 40s. Yet our female MPs were overwhelmingly elected in their 20s or 50s, and not one was first elected while raising young children. Achieving the same age spread as the men could …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 9 Comments

Opinion: No to All-Men Shortlists‏

At our 2001 party conference I donned a shocking pink t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “I am not a token woman” and spoke in opposition to all-women shortlists.

Eight years on, I am still opposed to the use of single gender shortlists, but I wonder if I was then taking aim at the wrong target.

Research done by the party in advance of Nick Clegg’s recent appearance before the Speaker’s Conference showed, as I argued back in 2001, no evidence that our party discriminates against women in candidate selections.

Far from it: analysis of 237 selections shows that two thirds of the time where a woman is on the shortlist, a woman is selected.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 57 Comments
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