Last week I received an email from both the leader of the Women’s Equality Party and my local branch (Lambeth), asking people to consider standing as candidates in the London, Welsh and Scottish Assembly elections in 2016.
It is a unique opportunity to make history and be the first elected representative of this new party. It is also a unique opportunity to take forward women’s equality by influencing policy at a local level. I live in London and am a Londoner by birth. I’ve lived here for 30 years and I know it is the best city on earth. But it isn’t always an easy one in which to be a woman (or a human being for that matter). Could I be the person to make the difference?
I half-made my mind up that I would at least apply to be considered to be a candidate. There is a short-listing and selection process to be followed so it’s a bit like applying for that dream job, because you never know!
Having gone to a meeting of WEP Lambeth to discuss it, my resolve was firmed up. Others at the meeting were also planning to apply and many of us had the same thinking on this: if there is a good range of applications, a wide selection pool, it will be easier to identify the best candidates and to get the best people on the ballot paper. That doesn’t necessarily mean me (my ego isn’t a bad size, but it isn’t that big!) but I might be a useful comparator, a middle ground (I hope) that then makes it clear when someone even better applies. We are very aware in the WEP Lambeth branch that we aren’t very representative in terms of diversity of the local area, so we also resolved to reach out and encourage others to apply to stand. There was no hint of competitiveness, each of us felt that the others who had decided to apply would be good candidates and we were all sure that there would be other people out there (WEP encourages candidates of all sexes) who would be equally good.
I am a little daunted in filling out the application form and wish I could be in London for the drop-in help sessions that the Lambeth branch are running. The timing is tricky but even over the Christmas season I’m hoping to find the time to get my application written up, and maybe I can ask one of my fellow branch members to give it a once over. If I get chosen, I’ll be thrilled, but if I don’t I’ll be glad to know that my efforts, and those of the branch, have brought in better candidates to take those places.
If you are interested in finding out about the Women’s Equality Party or how to apply to be a candidate you can find all the information you need here: http://www.womensequality.org.uk/