Tag Archives: #choosetochallenge

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. 

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International Women’s Day: Beatrice Wishart on gender balance going backwards at Holyrood

Today is International Women’s Day. And if you are one of those people who find it necessary to ask if there’s an International Men’s Day, it’s 19th November.

So today, I’ll be making the occasional intervention on Mark’s day to report on what senior Liberal Democrats are saying about International Women’s Day.

Beatrice Wishart, Lib Dem MSP for Shetland got in early with her speech in the Holyrood International Women’s Day event last Thursday. She highlighted the problems women were facing juggling work and caring responsibilities during the pandemic. She also spoke about the exodus of young women MSPs who  have found it too difficult to combine raising a family with their parliamentary duties. One of the women stepping down is Gail Ross, the SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross. If the Parliament had got its act together on hybrid proceedings before the pandemic, maybe she and others might have felt able to stay. Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

Equality is one of the four founding principles of the Scottish Parliament.

It should be at the core of everything we do here.

And yet, 20 years into this Parliament, so many challenges remain. We undoubtedly still have work to do.

In November we spoke about problems around violence against women. The life ruining crimes. The hideous harassment. Problems that just have to be addressed, globally and closer to home.

Of course, those are not the only challenges women face.

Many have said that the pandemic “turned back the clock” on gender equality.

It is certainly true that negative impacts have fallen disproportionately on women.

Job losses and income reductions have been widespread. An International Monetary Fund report highlighted how women are more likely than men to work in social sectors including retail, tourism, and hospitality where lockdown has been most widely felt.

The true value of care has come into the limelight, both professionally and domestically. 

And the responsibility to manage home schooling all hit women harder, without question.

Many people found themselves between a rock and a hard place, juggling impossible burdens and expectations. 

These problems are not new. There is nothing unfamiliar in what I’ve just described.

The relationship between women and work has always been fragile.

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