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Women and Mothers in Politics

Women political leaders key to ‘more equal and caring societies’ – photo Jessica Taylor / UK parliament

UK Politics “Ruthless, Rich and Male”

We at Mumsnet have not been shy over the years in highlighting what our users think about the “ruthless, rich and male” nature of UK politics, and how misogyny and sexism put women off from getting involved. More women and mothers in politics are the key to a more equal and caring society.

Our latest survey revealed that even the most politically aware mums are reluctant to stand for election. Although 88% of you are interested in politics, only 7% would consider becoming a candidate at any level, with issues like public scrutiny, misogyny, and the incompatibility of politics with family life coming out as top reasons. Nearly half of you agreed that you would rather “give birth again without drugs” than get involved in politics in any way.

Need to Empower Mothers

Stella Creasy and Caroline Nokes MP joined us last month to answer questions on this issue, and it’s something we’re going to keep banging on about. If mothers don’t have a seat at the table, then the issues that affect them will continue to be overlooked by the men in charge. Political parties must take action to empower more mothers to get involved at every level.

We’ll be talking to officials at Conservative HQ later this month about how to get more women selected as candidates, and we’re hoping to speak to other political parties as well. Watch this space for updates!

Need for More Online Participation

On a not-unrelated note, we’re also continuing to push the government to allow local councils to hold their meetings remotely. This vastly increased democratic participation last year, and was great for parents of young children and those with other caring responsibilities.

Since councils have been forced to return to fully in-person meetings, there’s been a drop in attendance, especially during the first wave of omicron. You might have seen Jackie Weaver talking about this (in a way that wouldn’t be out of place on AIBU?):

“It is completely unreasonable that we are having to cancel council meetings or hold them only in emergencies for goodness knows how long. Where is democracy?”

Jackie Weaver

If you want to tell the government YABU, add your voice to more than ten thousand others calling for emergency legislation to solve the problem.

Domestic Abuse

Our first guest post of the year was by Police Sergeant and Mumsnet user Sharon Baker, who talked about her own story of domestic abuse and Mumsnet’s role in her finally breaking free. It’s fair to say that Sharon’s post resonated with users, with well over 30,000 views. We know that around 6,000 women have been helped out of violent relationships on Mumsnet – and Sharon’s story shows just what a difference the support of other users makes.

#CountDisabledChildrenIn

The Disabled Children’s Partnership are calling on local councils to #CountDisabledChildrenIn during their annual budget-setting. Vanessa, mother of five-year old Edith who has Down’s syndrome, explained in this post how services like speech and language therapy – absolutely key to the development and future independence of children like Edith – have suffered during the pandemic.

You can email your local council leader to call on them to take disabled children into account here.(Some councils have now already set their budgets but it’s still worth dropping a line to show support for these programmes).

Telemedical Abortion

Following a poll of over 8,000 Mumsnet users, we wrote to Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Vaccines & Public Health Maggie Throup, urging the government to continue to allow women to take early abortion pills at home.

Introduced in 2020 due to the pandemic, this has been proven to be safe, effective and a preferred option for many women. Removing it would be a step backwards for women’s health. Sadly the government announced last night that they’d be axing this provision in six months’ time, but we and many other campaign groups are hopeful they’ll reconsider. Here’s our tweet from this morning and BPAS has more actions you can take here.

Come and talk to us in the Mumsnet Campaigns forum