Women are the backbone of our communities. However, young women are all too often a rare sight at constituency Labour party meetings. We are an even rarer sight in a council chamber, and positively endangered as council leaders, mayors and the party leadership. Yet we have the ability to enrich our communities and party with our unique experiences, energy and ideas. We also have the ability to engage meaningfully with our peers. Women aged 18-24 are an incredibly important group and the Labour party must recognise this if we want to be serious about forming a government.
You see, while women aged 18-24 are the group least likely to vote in an election, they are the most likely to vote Labour. In fact, according to Ipsos MORI, the last general election saw 44 per cent of women aged 18-24 vote Labour. That is significant. If we listen to, create policies that work for, support, and inspire young women, they will turn out to vote and many will join us.
To do this we need to make a considerable effort to break down the barriers that work against young women in politics. When people, including members of our party, dismiss candidates who want to make a difference in their communities as ‘too young’ or ‘career politicians’, is it any wonder that young female councillors are hard to come by? Instead of scratching our heads, wondering why just 32 per cent of councillors are women and even fewer are young women, we as Labour party members must take responsibility for the problem and work to resolve it.
To lead the way, we need to modernise and nurture the talents of our young female members. This includes supporting and encouraging them to stand for elected office. If we do this, we will inspire other young women to join us and do the same. As a young female mayor, I met girls and young women who would tell me that, by seeing me in the role, they believed they could do it too. If we show girls and young women that politicians can look like they do, ultimately our communities and electoral prospects will benefit.
Rosie Corrigan is former mayor of Selby district council
Read Sabrina Francis and Ellie Gellard‘s contributions to this part of the International Women’s Day special guest-edit of Progress magazine
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