In which former Medway councillor Anne-Claire Howard ponders why female MPs are stepping down in this General Election..
The first question is, are many women MPs standing down? More than men? If that’s the case, are they long standing MPs? And what reasons are they invoking? And are they of all parties, ethnic origin, or ages? It’s a little easy to make all-encompassing statements like this, so I did a little research.
First of all, of the 58 politicians who are stepping down, 18 are women. “Well, that’s not so bad”, I hear you say. No, that’s not so bad. It’s basically the same proportion as there are female MPs in the house. This in itself is an issue, but not the topic of this piece. So proportionally as many women are standing down as men. But many of these women are relatively young and relatively recently elected compared to their male peers. That is more of a concern.
Is being a local councillor compatible with being a working mother? This is a question I get asked a lot along with “why on earth would you want to be a local councillor?” and “how could you be a Tory?”
And the truth is that it is extremely hard to be a working mum and a councillor. It’s hard because you have a full-time job on top of being a councillor and most people tend to forget that, and it’s hard because – let’s face it – misogyny is still prevalent. As for being a Tory, well suffice it to say that the current Conservative Party is most certainly no longer in line with my core beliefs and that’s without even mentioning the “B” word.
I decided to run for local election because I believed that my professional expertise could be put to good use. I wanted to give back to my community by using my skills. I wanted to help people improve their lives by providing a link to an authority they are often too distanced from, or don’t understand the dealings of. I naively believed that I would be taken seriously having spent over 15 years working for large multinational corporations, that my voice once elected would be equal to that of all the other elected councillors. But most naively of all, I believed that we would focus our time, effort and attention to local issues and would focus on what was best for Medway and Medway’s residents. Suffice it to be said that this was not the case.