Does the suit really make the MP?
Despite progress, female representations in parliaments across the world remain dismal
According to the World Bank Data website, in 2014, the number of seats held by women in the British Parliament did not exceed the 23. In the last five years, that number has varied from 22 to 23. At the top of the list is South Africa, as well as Sweden, with 45 seats occupied by women, when the number falls to zero in Qatar and only one woman is part of the Omani parliament. The UK has the 15th highest proportion of women MPs out of the 28 EU Member States, as stated in the parliament website. Amy Gray, candidate MP for the Conservative party, is well aware of the situation and wishes to change it soon.
After graduating from Oxford University, where she studied English, she became a teacher in the borough of Hackney. Amy was shocked with what she came across to while teaching. Her 11-year-old students couldn’t read and write. “They were functionally illiterate”, she remembers. However, it was one particular girl that made her change her career views completely. The 12-year-old student didn’t really like studying. The little girl wouldn’t change her mind, despite all of Amy’s efforts. One day, she turned to her teacher and said: “oh Miss, school doesn’t matter, when I finish I can get pregnant and get a house from the Council.”
Amy started thinking about politics more seriously after that day. It was the Conservative Party she felt closer to.“This is where I belong in politics,” she thought. Very soon after, she decided to work for them for a couple of years, holding a bunch of different positions inside the party. Her family was always very supportive. The Conservative Women, as well as the Women to Win Organizations have also played a big role in her progress as a politician. They gave her all the information she needed, through plenty of training sessions, and even fortified her financially.
Politics is very demanding, especially if you are a woman. There are many late nights and busy weekends.But the biggest challenge for a female politician is to handle the negative attention. The attitude towards women in politics, particularly through social media, can be very unpleasant. People will comment on their appearance, or even threaten them. As a result, they deliberately choose different career paths. “I don’t blame them but it makes me sad that we are in a position now where that could be a barrier”, Amy reveals. She is running for her neighbors, for those who feel like they are not listened to. “You will never find a party that you will agree with everything they stand for. I’m trying to vote for women that inspire me.
I would like it a lot if more female voices would be heard inside our parliament”, says Dave, 53. There is a large number of British people, like him, who believe that everybody needs more women in government. On the other hand, for too many people, a politician still looks like an old white man. Undoubtedly, there is more than one image of how should a politician look like. This is exactly why people like Amy Gray are out there showing everyone an alternative image of the politician of today.
This blog was originally published here.