Local Dudley residents Zaqirah Mughal and Natalie Cutler came to Parliament this week to shadow Ian Austin MP around the corridors of power, as part of a UK wide event aimed at encouraging more women to stand for election.
The initiative saw more than 250 inspiring women from all parts of the country descend on Westminster to highlight the need for more women in politics. Today only one in three politicians are women.
On 21 November 1918, just days after the Armistice, the Qualification of Women Act was passed to allow women to stand for Parliament for the first time. Today’s shadowing event is a celebration of this Act and a call for more women to come forward.
Since then just we have only had 491 women MPs compared to 4503 men. At this rate it will take another half century before women catch up. Today’s ‘Ask Her To Stand’ event was aimed at closing the gap.
To be truly representative Parliament should reflect the people it serves and at the moment it doesn’t. Laws and regulations will never properly reflect the needs or diversity of our country and communities until the numbers are evened up.
The day was organised by campaigners Frances Scott, 50:50 Parliament, Helen Pankhurst and the Centenary Action Group, the Fawcett Society and the Jo Cox Foundation.
The women spent time shadowing their MP and seeing first-hand what it means to be a Member of Parliament. They were invited to take part in workshops and listen to talks and Prime Minister’s Questions and to get a full picture of what it means to stand for political office.
Ian Austin MP said:
“We need more women to stand for public office. At all levels in politics, from the grassroots to Westminster, we have two men for every one woman. I hope today inspires great women like Zaqirah and Natalie to stand for election to give us all broader and more representative decision making.”