This morning my twelve year old daughter asked me if I’d decided who I was voting for and if so which party it would be? Whether I was going to vote or not didn’t enter her head, of course I would be. Even as late as this morning however, I wasn’t 100% sure. It was a choice between two parties but who would I put the cross next to on the ballot paper?
I’ve read the manifestos and re-read the two that I was torn between, I don’t do things by halves and am determined that my vote will count. I am lucky enough to work in an environment where everyone is working towards gender equality and I have access to the latest research on women’s issues in Wales and the UK. I spent yesterday lunchtime at the Senedd, the home of the Welsh Assembly, where WEN Wales launched their briefings on Women’s Equality Now: The Position in Wales Today, which covers issues such as unpaid care, diversity, economic violence and devolution. Women are disproportionately affected by unpaid caring roles which impacts on their education, health and employment. There are more women in poverty than men and childcare and welfare cuts have plummeted more women into poverty. Although the Welsh Assembly was the first devolved government to achieve a 50/50 gender balance representation women account for just over 30% of public appointments.
Women are still marginalised throughout Britain and disproportionately affected by government policy – surely that is a an area that us, as women can all relate to? It is believed that 9 million women didn’t vote in the last election. That’s 9 million voices that were not heard or counted. I for one do not want my daughters or their daughters growing up in a country where she is disadvantaged in life because of her gender. You CAN make a difference. WEN Wales asked all the parties in Wales three questions relating to their policies on women’s issues and you can read their answers here. If you are still unsure of who to vote for or whether to vote at all, I’d urge you to read and consider which party you think has our interests as women best represented.
My great – grandmother didn’t have her say, she was legally silenced and it was her generation that fought this injustice , some like Emily Wilding Davison with their lives, for our right as women to have a voice and a say on how our country is governed. This may sound like my ‘Women’s / Social historian’ head speaking but I take their sacrifice and my ability to vote very seriously.
So, how did I answer my daughter’s question this morning? I told her that I wouldn’t be telling her who I was voting for and that wasn’t me being unfair. One of the greatest things I can do and the best legacy to those women who fought for our right to vote, is to raise our girls to be politically confident and educated women. Not to influence them with our political beliefs but to encourage them to explore policies and parties themselves, develop their own beliefs and take the opportunity to let their own voice be heard.
If you do just one thing today, please vote. Lets make sure that those 9 million lost voices of the last election are heard loud and clear today.
photos from those shared on Facebook, if source is known please let me know and I’ll happily credit them.