Tag Archives: equal power

Jo Swinson’s book nominated for an award

Jo Swinson’s Equal Power was one of my best reads of this year. I have now bought or won four copies of the thing – one on my Kindle, one real one and two to give away. Last weekend, I spent a small fortune on yet another at the Edinburgh West dinner. It is a book that everyone should read. It’s not just a book, it’s an action plan. Jo is never one to underestimate anyone’s capacity for work, so she shows us how we can be the change we want to see.

So I’m chuffed to see that Equal Power has made the shortlist in the “Best Non Fiction by a Parliamentarian” category in the Parliamentary Book Awards 2018. The awards ceremony will be held on 4th December and the winners will be chosen by parliamentarians themselves.  The 11 shortlisted books are as follows:

Best Memoir by a Parliamentarian

  • The Power of Politicians by Tessa Jowell, and Frances D’ Souza, edited and with an introduction by Claire Foster-Gilbert (Haus Publishing (published with the Westminster Abbey Institute))
  • In My Life: A Music Memoir by Alan Johnson (Transworld)
  • Confession of a Recovering MP by Nick de Bois (Biteback)
  • Confessions of a Political Maverick by Austin Mitchell (Biteback)

Best Non-Fiction by a Parliamentarian

  • Equal Power: Gender Equality and How to Achieve It by Jo Swinson (Atlantic)
  • Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice is Failing Women by Helena Kennedy (Random House)
  • Yes She Can: Why Women Own The Future by Ruth Davidson (Hodder)
  • Adam Smith: What He Thought, and Why it Matters by Jesse Norman (Penguin)
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Jo Swinson on leadership, the importance of humility and meeting a hero

This afternoon, Jo Swinson will be speaking at the “Aye Write” book festival in Glasgow.

Ahead of that, she gave a long interview to the Sunday Herald. Here are some of the highlights:

She talked about how the author of the book she had requested as a prize at school had got in touch with her:

When Jo Swinson was a teenager, studying at Douglas Academy in Milngavie, she was awarded the Senior Dux prize for achievement, and was given a trophy plus a book of her choice. What she opted for, as she describes in her book Equal Power: And How You Can Make It Happen, was a popular title by Kate White, a journalist who would later go on to edit Cosmopolitan. It was called Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead But Gutsy Girls Do.

Swinson croons her enthusiasm when I mention the book. Recently, she tells me, she gave it a mention in a World Book Day article and as a result the author got in touch with her. “I’m just so over the moon about this,” says Swinson. “I got this email from her last week, out of the blue, saying I’m so touched that this book made such an impact. She said she’d like to meet up for a coffee. I’m so beside myself with excitement that I’ll have to try not to be a dreadful fan girl.”

She also explained why she had not gone for the Lib Dem leadership last year.

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Jo Swinson MP writes…Wringing our hands or shrugging our shoulders isn’t enough to fight discrimination

Editor’s Note: Out this month is Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson’s book Equal Power. Here she writes about the battle for equality and you can get her new book yourself from Amazon, Hive or The Guardian bookshop.

With rampant sexual harassment at a corporate charity dinner, the BBC accused of breaking equal pay law, and Easyjet’s new male CEO admitting he was offered £34,000 more to do the same job as his female predecessor, you don’t need to look far to find gender inequality in the news. And that’s just stories from one week.

When I was the Liberal Democrat Minister for Women, I learned that many seemingly different issues – the gender pay gap, violence against women, workplace discrimination, body image, division of caring responsibilities, gender stereotypes, women’s under-representation in politics – are all different parts of the same fiendishly difficult jigsaw. Tackling the problem of gender inequality means chipping away at all of these issues simultaneously because together they reinforce the entrenched power imbalance between men and women.

The backlash in the letters page of the Financial Times last week showed what we’re up against, as writers bemoaned the FT even covering the issue of sexual harassment, and referred to the women groped in their workplace as “silly young girls”. When I spoke out on television – albeit colourfully – against the everyday sexism and misogyny that sees schoolgirls sexually harassed, I was called a “little missy”.

It should be a core mission for us as liberals to challenge concentrations of power, including the power hoarded in the hands of rich, white men.

Gendered assumptions are everywhere. While women bear the brunt of these injustices, rigid cultural expectations about gender also harm men, not least in terms of their mental health. Men are also undervalued in their role as fathers, something I started trying to change with the introduction of shared parental leave.

Our party is not immune to the sexism that permeates through every part of society, but we can all act – individually and collectively – to be part of the solution. We need to recognise the nature of the problem: it is structural and ingrained in each and every one of us, absorbed from the surrounding culture. Changing it takes constant attention and proactive effort. Wringing our hands or shrugging our shoulders when few women ‘come forward’ won’t cut it for our party in 2018.

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