‘Creating gender-sensitive parliaments’

Today I attended a working breakfast to mark International Women’s Day: titled. ‘Creating gender-sensitive parliaments’.

There was a fantastic panel:

Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury: the first female Speaker of Parliament in Bangladesh.

Mona Juul: Norwegian Ambassador to the UK

Maria Miller: MP, Minister for Women and equality 2012-2014

Aloun Ndombet-Assamba: Jamaica’s 12th High Commissioner to the UK

Baroness Williams of Crosby: Ex-MP and appointed to the Lords

Anushka Asthana: Political Correspondent for Sky News

The speakers were incredibly engaging and identified multiple hurdles for women to enter into a a career in Parliament. These were wide ranging issues form cultural, childcare, financial, lack of support for safe seats. A great point was made that Parliament needs to be made ‘more loveable’.

All the women on the panel had obviously managed to achieve interesting and successful careers. They spoke of the good points about the jobs, and the bad points. Such as having to put up with social media abuse.

As normal Norway was held as the prime example of success, 40% of their Parliament is women. Where as in the UK 23% of Parliament is women. The Norwegian Childcare system, parental leave and the cultural acceptance that the father should be equally involved in parenting were provided for reasons for Norway’s success.

Hopefully after the upcoming election will see an increase of women represented in Parliament.

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