Yesterday John Woodcock and Alison McGovern signed the Labour Women’s Network #PowerPledge on behalf of Progress. We are very proud to be among the first signatories and we will be framing it for the office, but it will not be sitting on a shelf gathering dust. This pledge, as Jacqui Smith wrote on our site on Monday, is not only important in its own right in seeking to protect hard-fought wins like all-women shortlists and a shadow cabinet en route for 50-50 representation, it offers a challenge to organisations like ours to always do better.
As a start, I call on all Progress members, in fact all Labour members, to sign it. Even better would be if some Tories or Liberal Democrats would sign it too. They are both parties desperately in need of AWS systems and a big increase of women in their cabinet-level representation. Saying what we want the world to be like is an important first step, but the action that follows counts tenfold.
This is an obvious thing for Progress to sign – we were one of the first to ban all-male panels and have done lots to back AWS – but it is not easy. Nor should it be. There needs to be a shake-up of the professional and voluntary party in how we treat women in our ranks. Without this we will continue to play our politics in what Philip Gould called an ’empty stadium’. So we have to change too.
We will continue to do all we can to promote women in our party at all levels. We will not organise all-male panels nor participate in them. We will encourage women into council seats and beyond. And will continue our Winning With Women work.
But there is still so much more that we as an organisation and as a party need to do. If there is anything that readers think that Progress could be doing more of to help in this endeavour, if you spot a missed opportunity, or if you think there is something we can change, then get in touch with me richard [at] progressonline.org.uk
As a renewed part of this endeavour, on 12 January we are holding our second Winning With Women event on political writing, Winning With Women: Writing for the election and beyond – please do sign up for your place here.
Richard Angell is director of Progress. He tweets @RichardAngell
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