Local Representation of women in the Labour party

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2018 National Women's Conference
27 September 2017

It was reassuring to see in the 2017 general election that there was the highest proportion of female candidates ever contesting parliamentary seats which stood at 29%, with Labour leading the way at 40.4%.

We welcome the steps the Labour party have taken so far committing to having at least 45 per cent of candidates standing in local and national elections to be women by 2020. However, women still remain under-represented in politics at all levels and the future significant developments that are likely to happen within the political arena make it essential that this number continues to grow and this needs to happen a lot quicker than by 2020. To be truly reflective and representative of the population of the UK, which currently stands at 51% female, we need to take action now. In order to reach true proportionality it is essential we work with the Labour Party on a bottom up approach.

At a national level, Labour is increasing training and support for women through initiatives like the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme and by extending the use of all-women shortlists. At a local level, constituency Labour parties are working hard to engage female members.

As a union we can support the Labour Party to fulfil this goal by jointly hosting local engagement and education events throughout the country.

For example: Increasing participation of women in politics, was an event successfully held recently within the Northern Region which was aimed to encourage participation and engagement with over 150 grass roots women in attendance.

We would encourage this to be replicated across all regions with a view to developing a plan to support Unison women who want to participate in the Labour Party at all levels.

As a union we need to recognise the additional pressures that UNISON women face when holding positions such as Local Councillor and the conflict this can cause engaging in activity with the union particularly at a time of austerity which can often lead to disengagement from one forum or even both.

We are asking National Women’s Committee to:

• Encourage Regions to work with Local M.Ps to highlight these barriers.

• Encourage Labour Link and Regions to work together to develop a plan which will support UNISON women in Labour Party activity.

• Encourage Labour Link and Regions to hold similar events to that mentioned above which was held in the Northern Region.