Women in Politics: My Experience of Lobbying at Parliament

On February 12th, 2020, I travelled to the Houses of Parliament to lobby as a Youth Ambassador for the ONE Campaign, an international anti-poverty organisation. I met with Leeds North West MP, Alex Sobel, to spread awareness of GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance. Being vaccinated has meant that I could go to university and achieve my academic goals. As a result, I am due to graduate in July with a Politics degree. However, whilst lobbying, one striking theme was going through my mind all day: the issue of gender inequality. 

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During my time at uni, I have studied the effects of gender from sociological, political and philosophical perspectives. But, actually being in Parliament showed how gender disparities manifest in real life. As I met MPs from constituencies across the country, it was clear that the majority were male. While a few women entered the space, such as a past leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, I was reminded of how Parliament is a traditionally male domain. This reinforced my intersecting fear and panic regarding the job market. While I felt inspired to break through the glass ceiling, I also felt like an imposter.

 

When looking at the figures, the British Parliament currently has the most significant number of female MPs in British history at 34%. This marks Britain's position globally as 39th for female proportionality. As someone who is generally politically active, I find this figure disheartening. Whilst it does reflect a broader achievement of gender equality throughout our society, with women gaining the top positions, it also highlights the further battle that women must fight. These fears are shared by many women in similar situations. But, on a positive note, being vaccinated has meant that I have had the opportunity to try and reach my dreams of getting a degree, and one day achieving a top position in Parliament.

 

woman in a gray sweater taking notes on white paper

Despite my angst for the future of females in the political sector, and somewhat feeling out of place when being in Parliament, lobbying on behalf of ONE for GAVI was a move in helping others to achieve their goals. At the heart of both GAVI and ONE's ethos is that no one should have their life chances disrupted by avoidable infectious diseases, no matter where they live. Through spreading awareness and upholding the Government's commitment to GAVI, it boosts the economies of low-income societies. 

 

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Immunisation gives children the chance to get an education, contribute to their communities and have opportunities that are otherwise prevented by infectious diseases. This is something many of us take for granted due to the mere fact that we were automatically vaccinated when we were children. By making sure the government maintains its involvement in international development, people’s opportunities don’t become affected by where they were born. As British society, and respectively, the world, is experiencing a panic regarding the outbreak of Coronavirus, this is a stark actuality for many living in some of the world's most impoverished countries. Rather than their fear being Coronavirus, like ours, it is illnesses such as HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Diseases which many of us don't even have to think about. 

 

 

As we celebrate International Women's Day, please take a moment to check out the work that ONE does and find out how you can show your support. 

 

Words by Nicole Greene.

 

Edited by Dasha Pitts.