I was 11 when my Primary School teacher said something that has never left me.
Talking about the suffrage movement she said “I hope none of you, but especially the girls, ever forget what others gave up so you would have the right to vote.”
This was the beginning of a love affair with the suffragettes and feminism for me.
So I have been surprised that some of my fellow pupils from that class in 1990 have gone on to be apolitical and others opposed to feminism.
My experience has always been that to mention women and equality is to be met with a accusations of men bashing and to point out the subjectification of women in the media is to be accused of jealousy.
So, despite being a very vocal person I had not always fought as hard as I could on women’s issues.
Over the last six months, however, I feel as if I have found my voice as a feminist.
This has coincided with a few things: firstly Kent’s new Labour MP Rosie Duffield has been instrumental in raising the profile of Kent’s Labour women, and very quickly we have formed a network, or what could be called a ‘sisterhood.’
It sounds corny, but it’s true, I feel supported by my Labour sisters, that we are all routing for each other.
I have also started blogging (http://theavengeruk.com/) and increasingly write about my lived experiences and those of my friends, and so by default these are often experiences that could be deemed women’s issues.
This has brought me into contact with a whole new network of women.
I have got involved with 50:50 Parliament, having met the founder Frances, at an event and it has brought back memories of all the reasons I became enchanted by the suffragettes 28 years ago.
Following on from this, myself and my friend Kate this week ran Women’s Event at Dartford Labour, the first in our time as party members.
I spoke with one veteran member of the party who said her heart leapt with joy’ when she saw the invite because at last the issue is gaining attention.
Armed with the stories about the disparity between men and women at every level of government in the UK we made the case for 50:50 representation.
With our new network of Labour Party women we were able to find four amazingly motivational speakers, who represented the diversity of women in terms of backgrounds (the videos can be found here (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKTFQzBXXEWXQwebXL76jNQ).
Hearing them led to other members telling their stories.
These stories are about lived experiences, and of course, women’s lived experiences are different to those of men, and both need representing.
What the event confirmed is this:
Hearing women tell their stories inspires other women to tell their stories.
When woman speak up it inspires other women to speak up and so it stands to reason that more women standing will lead to even more women standing for election.
For me this is just the beginning of speaking out for 50:50 Parliament and I cannot wait to see where else it takes me and to all the fabulous women I will meet on the way.