Achieving for women
Margaret Bondfield was an extraordinary woman. Born into a radical working-class family in 1873, she dedicated her life to trade unionism and the advancement of working women and men in our national politics. And on this very day in 1929, she was appointed to the Labour government’s cabinet, the first woman ever to achieve that office.
While this achievement is remarkable in its own right, the dispiriting reality is that it remains a remarkable exception to the general rule more than 80 years later. Those of us who are politically active are well aware that only five of the current 23 cabinet members are women, and only 145 women currently sit as MPs. Progress feels achingly slow, and I often meet women and men who wonder what more they can do to help bring about change.
Over the past 24 years, the Labour Women’s Network has taken practical action to give women the skills, experience and confidence needed to achieve their political ambitions. Our roll-call of former trainees includes dozens of female MPs and councillors, as well as women who are playing significant roles in all other aspects of our party and the wider movement. We’ve achieved this through intensive training coupled with ongoing support, identifying and then developing women who are determined to overcome whatever barriers may prevent them reaching their full political potential. At its heart, this work speaks to the most stark of Labour’s values: that power (as well as wealth and opportunity) should be in the hands of the many, not the few.
Recently, a number of men have asked me how they can support this work. LWN is a membership organisation for women within the party, but we depend on the active support of both men and women to carry on the work. We welcome men as Supporters – as well as great company at our annual dinner! Indeed, we need your support to continue.
So, on the anniversary of Margaret Bondfield’s extraordinary achievement, please do something which puts our shared values into action – join the Labour Women’s Network.
Kathryn Perera is an elected member of the Labour Women’s Network National Executive Committee.
Kathryn Perera, Labour Womens Network, Margaret Bondfield, Parliament, Women