In this blog young activist Rox writes about our pre-election panel event. She shares what attending this event meant as an activist, young Disabled woman and a voter.
The elections happening on 6 May are some of the most important of the last decade. Not only because they are the first since the start of the pandemic, but also because of the current discussions around racism, benefits, and women’s safety.
The Young Women’s Trust hosted an online pre–election event and invited panellists from political parties and young women associated with the Trust, including activists like myself. This was a chance to hear from politicians and to ask them about their plans to ensure, that as the country rebuilds, no young woman is left behind.
It was chaired by Maya Oppenheim, the Women’s Correspondent at The Independent. This for me as an aspiring female writer was an experience within itself.
This event was not only about meeting the people behind the politics but ensuring that they saw the faces of the young women they may impact if successful. Events like these are important for lifting policies and statistics off the page and bringing them to life.
How this event impacted me as an activist
The event was very eye opening for several reasons. Not only because of the individuals who attended and spoke, but also those who did not. Prior to the event we were told the Conservative Party would not be attending as they were “unable to find an available representative”. I considered whether to include this in my write up, but I feel it did impact what I took from this event. However, I hope this has no reflection on the party’s prioritisation of young women’s issues going forward.
As to the people who did attend, not only from the political spectrum but also the young women who spoke – the passion for change was evident and empathic. The grounded nature of the stories shared made me feel that panellists had people at the heart of their intentions.
The Women’s Equality Party representative, Mandu Reid’s words resonated with me. She stated that we need to make a change in politics as to how we measure success. That we should stop investing in concrete and “manly structures” and invest in social structures and people like carers who support them.
Labour Party candidate, Charlotte Nichols spoke to her own experience. For me it was aspirational and reassuring to see a young woman, who is also a frontbencher for a major party, taking time to speak to other young women, and clearly wanting to learn from our lived experience.
Nadine Marshall from Plaid Cymru shared personal tragedy and portrayed real emotion and motivation for improving policy to benefit young people and families going forward. Nadine showed true vulnerability in an environment where other politicians traditionally would not, this was refreshing and valuable.
Liberal Democrat Claire Bonham echoed the need and willingness to assist in positive change, taking onboard young women’s experience with genuine interest.
Amelia Womack from the Green Party whilst committed to the event previously, apologised for her absence due to unexpected circumstances.
How the event impacted me as a voter
For me it highlighted the importance of my vote as I am hoping it did for others. There are people out there who want to act on our behalf and our vote is a way for us to help them do this. Those who want our vote must consider us as we consider them.
I think this event helped to do this and this is why there must be more like it.
1.5 million young women have lost income since the start of the pandemic with many claiming benefits for the first time.
Now, young women are calling on the government to permanently increase Universal Credit, not just for 6 months, and to increase Carer’s Allowance permanently too.