It’s been about seven weeks since Theresa May called for a snap election – much to the surprise of the entire country. Since then, our televisions, radios and social media have seen been back-to-back campaigning from each of the main parties.
Some of the women I coach have no problem deciding who to vote for and they made their minds up long ago. Some women have been voting the same way since they were 18. But some women are disenchanted with politics altogether. This article is for you.
I am not going to talk about my own political preferences but I am going to talk about why you should be heading to the polling station today (Thursday 8th June 2017).
Firstly, we should not take democracy for granted. We are fortunate in the UK to have the privilege to vote. Sadly, millions of men and women around the world do not have the power to create change in any way, shape or form.
In our own country, many women died to fight for our right to vote. Those women were our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. We owe it to them to make use of the right that they fought for us to have.
Last year, I was lucky enough to meet Dr Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, who you will know as the leader of the British suffragette movement, which helped to win women the right to vote in 1918.
My own grandmother was born in 1902 so she was in her teens when the suffragette movement was at its peak. My grandmother’s selflessness, as well as her non-judgemental and gentle ways, were humbling. I never heard her complain or cause a fuss. She simply wanted to enjoy the simple pleasures in life and so she appreciated everything. I think we could all take a leaf out of her book.
Emmeline Pankhurst has shaped the idea of women and without her, it’s probably fair to say that women would not have the rights we have today. Women’s issues are talked about more often than they ever have been before. Sexism is becoming less and less acceptable and awareness of sexism is growing – it’s starting to be recognised for what it is.
Voting is your chance to get politics working for women. Do your research. You can vote for policies which create an educational environment in which young girls and women are encouraged to dream big and are no longer pushed towards traditionally “female” degrees or careers.
You can vote for policies that believe in flexible working for mums. You can vote for equal pay. You can vote against sexism. You can vote to protect women against rape and domestic violence. If you don’t vote, you cannot get what you want. Staying at home makes you another statistic but a vote gives you a voice.
By Topical Press Agency, photographer unknown – Hulton Archive – Getty Images, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5034831