I would have changed the world, only I could not afford the childcare
July 3, 2013 1 Comment
One of the challenges in being a councillor who is not retired is the constant juggling of one ‘s available free time. From my vantage point, all councillors who work manage this balancing act. However, there is a cost, and for me I have to sacrifice much family time. Others make sacrifices too, and often this means one’s career takes a back seat or political ambitions have a lower horizon.
This hurdle must be bigger for women. Not only are there fewer of them in the council chamber (thirteen out of fifty-one), they are under-represented as candidates. It certainly is a barrier to young mums. I can think of a couple of examples where very able women were unable to put themselves forward because of their children (which is less of a barrier to young dads, but that is another matter).
The challenge that faces the Labour parties in Southend-on-Sea in each election year is finding enough women candidates. We always manage to find enough men, but our record in recent years as regards to women is getting worse. In 2010 we fielded 6 for the 17 wards locally, in 2011 we fielded 5, and last year just 4. I really hope this trend does not continue. On a positive note we have gender parity in the Labour Group on the council, and depending on how the local elections go next year we think we can maintain this. However, if we do not find and encourage more women to come forward we will struggle to retain gender parity in the years ahead, as is the case in so many other local authorities.
Whilst Labour’s record is better than all of the other parties in Southend-on-Sea I take no solace in this. We should be better, and could be better still. As we begin the selection process for next year’s elections I will be watching the comparative numbers for men and women.