International Women's Day
On the 8th March, it's international women's day.
To celebrate this, we want to introduce you to some amazing Lib Dem Women. Women who are a vital part of our Lib Dem campaigns across the country and women who are making a difference in their communities.
Do you belong on this list or know someone who does? Add them here: digitallibdems.typeform.com/to/nesPGu
Cllr Humaira Ali
Recently elected to Southwark and on a journey to fight for her community and find out if our democracy is actually working for all.
At the core of my beliefs is a passion for equality, liberty and ensuring a fair chance for all: nobody should be disqualified from pursuing their goals because of class, resources, gender, etc. Yet we are facing inequalities in access to affordable housing, opportunities for young people, chauvinism slowly creeping back into the workplace and more. I never knew that politics was something I could get involved with but getting involved with my local Lib Dems matched my desire to serve my community with a way to enable them to be heard - that's why I stood for council and one day hope to stand for parliament.
People are fed up with the status quo of politicians that use lots of words and say nothing/do nothing. In 2019 people are looking to women to lead the way. Look at the mid-terms in the US and the vote share in local elections here last year where women had a resounding increase. With a car crash Brexit looming large, now more than ever we need each and every woman to stand up and... be yourself. I haven't done anything differently than I would do at work, at home or with my friends. I've held firm to my core values, questioned anything and everything that doesn't seem right, listened to my constituents and started projects with them which address their concerns.
Cllr Bridget Smith
Leader South Cambridgeshire District Council. The only female member of the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire combined authority.
As a child I thought of myself as an equal to men and I will never deviate from this.
I lead by example, in as professional a way as I can without compromising my femininity, and never miss an opportunity to point out gender bias and unfairness to myself or my colleagues.
My friend and colleague Cllr Susan van de Ven has been and continues to be an inspiration to me. Susan has experienced tragedy in her life but always demonstrates great humanity, commitment and impressive political awareness. A very strong woman but very much a woman.
Barrister and Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Harrogate & Knaresborough
Every day I work with brilliant women in law and in politics. They come from all sorts of different backgrounds. It's hugely important to me that we make sure girls and young women who are making decisions about their futures know that these kinds of careers are open to them, no matter where they come from
Winner of the Richmond Park by-election and the only female Liberal Democrat MP in the 2015-17 Parliament.
Opportunities exist for women in politics today that could only be dreamed of by our mothers and grandmothers. We need to take responsibility, on behalf of ourselves, our families and our communities, for ensuring that women’s distinctive experiences are reflected in political discussion and decision-making
Cllr Zoe O'Connell
Vice-Chair of Federal Conference Committee and Deputy Group Leader on Cambridge City Council
Politics can never truly be representative when it is made up of people unrepresentative of society at large. International Women's Day is a chance for all women in politics to reach out and encourage others to get involved, by setting a positive example of what women can achieve in politics - particularly groups that, despite 100 years of progress, are still woefully under-represented such as BAME and LBT women.
Liberal Democrat Candidate for Mayor of London in 2020, mum of two daughters and would-be yogi
International Women’s Day is important because we still have so much to do to achieve gender equality in politics and across all other sectors. Our parliamentarians should represent all groups in society, not least because they are responsible for proposing and delivering policies that have real impact on people’s lives. All the evidence shows that increased diversity leads to broader debate and, ultimately, better decision-making. In politics, perhaps more than in any other arena, that’s a critical goal worth fighting for. I’d like to see much more being done to encourage women into politics at a local and national level. Since joining the Liberal Democrats, I've been very pleasantly surprised by the level of support offered to women in the party who are considering standing for election.
Cllr Anood Al-Samerai
Leader of the Southwark Liberal Democrat Council Group
Being a Liberal Democrat Councillor is the best thing I have ever done. It means that I am able to help local residents to have their voices heard. I am particularly proud to do this as a BME woman as our community in Southwark is incredibly diverse and our elected representatives should reflect that. Since becoming a mother last year, I have become even more conscious of the challenges for women in our society and how much more there is to be done to ensure that we have equality of opportunity for all.
Chair of the Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee and Vice Chair for the Campaign for Gender Balance
I grew up with a feminist mother who taught me that I could be anything I wanted and I shouldn’t let my gender stand in my way. I believe that women should be seen at all levels and in all roles so that all girls can grow up thinking they can do anything they want to. Outside the Liberal Democrat’s I am Finance Director for a company in the defence and engineering industry where I challenge gender stereotypes on an almost daily basis in this heavily masculine world.
Vice Chair of The Campaign for Gender Balance and has stood in two General Elections as a Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate
The theme of this years International Women’s Day #BalanceforBetter better the balance, better the world is needed more than ever in international politics.
My ambition is to see a diverse and gender balanced UK Parliament and not let the equality that was achieved by the suffragettes be in vain.
My political role model Shirley Williams inspired me to believe I could be an MP. It was years later when I also saw the work of my then MP Susan Kramer that I knew seeing strong women role models was the key to inspiring other women. Through the fantastic work of The Campaign for Gender Balance I know we are encouraging more and more women to step up and stand.
Cllr Sarah Cheung Johnson
The first Chinese councillor to be elected in Cambridgeshire
Getting more women into politics is important to me - it cannot be overstated the impact a woman can have in fields traditionally seen as being male bastions of power. We are natural disruptors and we are showing every day to future generations - you can do this too. Stand up for your values and be heard. Fight to make this world a better place; less inequality, more compassionate. The world can be better place if we work together and not stand divided.
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Member of Parliament for East Dunbartonshire
Last year was one of celebration for women in politics. In February we marked the centenary of the first UK women being given the right to vote in elections, and in November we celebrated the one-hundred-year anniversary of some women being given the right to stand for election to Parliament.
Celebrating these milestones in equality for women is important. But we must not feel any false comfort about progress. The gulf in political power between men and women is still huge, and we all need to do more to close it.
Much of the responsibility to get more women elected is down to political parties. I am proud that a third of Lib Dem MPs are women, but I know we must work harder still to spot and nurture talented women at all levels in our party.
On International Women’s Day, I want everyone to know that we can ALL do something to make politics more diverse.
Liberal Democrats Spokesperson for Communities, Local Government and Refugees and first female MP to represent Bath
The right of women to vote and stand as Members of Parliament was achieved through struggle and hardship in the early twentieth century. The suffragettes battled oppression and prejudice and won. But just over hundred years on, the fight continues. This country’s future will be strengthened by having many more women involved in the decision making processes. Women bring a different approach to politics, and it’s important that our Parliament is representative of our country.
I first became involved in politics while I was at school. I see part of my role as MP to encourage young people to get involved in the political process. I believe it is essential for young women to have positive role models in public life.
In my first year as MP I introduced a bill to protect the victims of the vile crime of upskirting. I am calling for better treatment for those who suffer from eating disorders and fighting the heinous practice of ‘sex for rent’
The Chair of the Federal People Development Committee for the Liberal Democrats, and is the only woman to have been the Chair of three different Party SAO's
I am only on the Federal People Development Committee because a male friend told me I should stand. Then I only stood for Chair of the committee when another male friend badgered me to go for it. And then when I nearly stepped aside in the election, when I saw so many other talented candidates on the ballot, those two male friends and my husband encouraged me to see it through. It’s not that I doubted myself. It’s just that I didn’t want to take a space away from someone else who was talented. Luckily my friends helped me see that in their eyes, I was the talented one who deserved the seat!
So, men reading this, we need you! Please ask the talented women you know to put themselves forward for things. Even really brilliant women that you know who are full of self-confidence and drive. Ask her to stand. For a Party position, for a Council, for a Parliament. Or suggest that she goes for that promotion at work. And then ask how you can help – what does she need to support her? Be her best cheerleading squad.
Cllr Dr Tumi Hawkins
Lead Cabinet Member for Planning at South Cambridgeshire District Council and the first BaME women to hold this position at the Council
I am an accidental politician, having allowed myself to be convinced to stand for elections in 2010. First I had to get over my negative unconscious bias of politics to see it as the opportunity to get stuff done for my community, to make life a little bit easier, better, and fairer. My engineering training taught me how to find solutions to all sorts of challenges and that has enabled me to be someone who gets things done, one way or another. It also taught me to be confident in my own abilities in what was a very white, male dominated space.
I have found the political space to be similar, but I am convinced that as a woman, I can and am bringing the heart in to the local political space, pragmatism and sense that working together is the best way to make our communities work for us. I want to make the council work better for residents, and I am convinced that I can do that with the cooperation of my community and being willing to think creatively in solving the challenges we face in today’s world.
Mary Regnier-Wilson is the MDO of South Cambs local party and helped to organise their shock victory in the 2018 local elections
I joined back in 2010, but it took me 5 years to do anything other than deliver leaflets. Because I assumed that the men in charge knew so much more than me about politics.
A wonderfully supportive woman convinced me I had skills to offer, and I'm determined to carry on helping others who had never thought of themselves as politicians to see that they are good enough to get elected. Too many council chambers are full of retired white men and we need to make them more diverse. To best serve our communities we need our elected representatives to be truly representative of their electorate.
Hayleigh is a member of the Wantage constituency local Liberal Democrat party, and joined after the 2015 general election. Since then she has become the Chair on the executive committee for the local party and has stood in local elections twice.
Part of the reason I joined the Liberal Democrats was due to their message on equality. It’s not always easy being a woman in politics, since you are frequently outnumbered and can often have a different point of view, but this just makes me more determined to stick at it. The way to change and shape policy to be more inclusive and to bring equality is to be part of the decision making, which is why I have stood for council since being a member. My message to other members would be keep pushing boundaries, and paving the way for other women!
Almona Choudhury, member of West Berkshire & Newbury Liberal Democrats and approved PPC . Executive Member, Green Liberal Democrats. Formerly Executive Member & MDO for West Berkshire and Newbury Liberals (East Branch), fundraiser and Councillor candidate for Buckelbury’
We should not forget the great historical fight which had to be fought to achieve gender equality. Recent incidents such as the BBC gender pay gap scandal should remind us that inequality issues still cast a shadow. Throughout history women have played a key role in leadership and politics both in the UK and throughout the world.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Baroness Lorely Burt at a function at the National Liberal Club to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage. She delivered an inspiring speech urging women to break down barriers, to seek opportunity and demand better. Her grit, determination and no-nonsense approach shone through. I left the National Liberal Club that evening full of esteem for a Liberal Democrat woman who provides a beacon to women in the Party like me.
Liz Jarvis is a member of Tooting Lib Dems
I joined the Liberal Democrats because I had had enough of Labour and I believe in Liberal values. Since joining last August, I've been involved in campaigning, been selected as the Lib Dem candidate for a possible local by-election, and I am working towards approval as a Parliamentary candidate.
Zoe is a member of the Harpenden local Liberal Democrat party
I've stood as a District Council candidate, and I've canvassed for the party and for a People’s Vote where I live.
I've found that the Liberal Democrats are committed, welcoming and non-judgemental. They believe in equal opportunities for all, and amongst their ranks have some of the most exciting young women in politics today.
Katherine Rose is a member of the Liberal Democrats in Europe Local Party
I joined the party after the 2015 General Election when I lived in South Cambridgeshire, because I realised that it was not enough to just vote but rather it was our duty to fight for the center ground of politics.
In South Cambridgeshire, I rolled my sleeves up and helped wherever was needed.
I now live located in Copenhagen and I am part of the Liberal Democrats in Europe Local Party Executive Committee.
I believe that being a Liberal Democrat is about Respect for the Individual. Man, Woman, Gay, Straight, Rich or Poor.
Tina joined the Lib Dems during the last General Election and enjoys the Lib Dem emails and campaigns on local rail, Clean Air and other cross-party environmental issues.
My mother is Swedish; when I was young I remember many visits to her graceful, humorous and strong feminist friends. My dad was one of the first members of his local Social Democrat Party. I was raised with my twin brother to see myself as equal to him in all respects - academically, as a keen sailor and as amateur musician. Although as a postdoctoral researcher I was constantly made aware of being in a pitiful minority, since living in Bristol and becoming involved in city politics I have worked with many warm-hearted, gifted and visionary women, many who are Lib Dem members (and many in other political parties and campaign groups), as well as many male friends and campaign partners. I have been lucky not to be held back in my career by considerations of gender and the strong sense of partnership between men and women is what I most value about the Lib Dems.
Marie is a member of Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats
I joined the party because this Borough has the worst child poverty rate in Europe yet, we have the headquarters of many global banks and institutions in the world based here sitting alongside this poverty.
Our Labour Mayor & his majority Labour Council give themselves pay rises at the first opportunity but continue to cut children’s and adult support services. I will continue to champion local people’s right until these injustices are put right.
Our local party leader is a woman, our only LD councillor in this Borough is a woman, the heart of the suffragette movement in London was organised from this area - I have great pride in being associated with a party that is so accepting and supportive of all our differences and, diverse community (including having lessons by the chair - in Bengali - so we could speak to residents in the recent local by-elections) - we’re a shining example and long may it continue!
Nicola is a member of the local Yeovil Lib Dems.
I joined because I was inspired by Jackie Ballard, who used to be my constituency MP. I am now the party's training coordinator, and I hope to help others learn to win elections where they are.
I love the inclusion and the efforts of our party in making sure that women have parity. The support I've received from the CGB and other fantastic women within the party has been nothing short of inspiring.
Naomi joined the Liberal Democrats after the EU Referendum in 2016 in order to help fight Brexit. She is now Chair of Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats.
To me, being a Liberal Democrat is all about equality, and that of course includes gender equality. Lib Dem policies such as shared parental leave and free nursery hours really help to break down gender stereotypes and support women in the workplace.
I have enormous respect for our women MPs, particularly Jo Swinson and Layla Moran, and their example has inspired me to consider stand as a PPC myself. We need more liberal women in parliament!
And I've made some wonderful female friends in the party, who helped encourage me to stand as Chair of Waltham Forest. I feel very lucky to have such great support around me.
Kate is a member of the Chiltern local Lib Dem party
I've been looking into what it would take to stand for office, after hearing Sal Brinton and others speak at the #PregnantThenElected panel event in October 2018. As a mum of two, I want to do something to make my children’s lives better.
I have been encouraged to get more involved by the formidable Vera Head, who is on the Chiltern Exec Committee, an amazing lady and a true stalwart. Since becoming a mum I’ve realised I need to be the one to make the change I want to see for my son and daughter’s future - and I’ve been inspired by the words and actions of New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern - especially when it comes to moving away from productivity and towards societal wellbeing as a measure of success.
Katy has been a parliamentary candidate in a key Lib Dem seat three times, and was Jo Swinson's campaign manager in the 2015 and 2017 general election.
My burning sense of injustice and desire to right wrongs and stand up for those who cannot get their voice heard is what drives me, both in my professional and political lives. I have found so many like minded people in the Liberal Democrats, so it is my natural home.
I have been inspired by so many women in the party but the 2 who made the most difference to me have been Isobel Nelson in Glasgow South, who first got me active in the party, by persistence, friendliness and making it sound easy. The other is Jo Swinson, who has been a political mentor, source of practical campaign advice, fellow campaigner in Scotland and friend. There is no other party I could join that would give me all this.
Flora joined the Liberal Democrats as a new year’s resolution in January 2018.
I felt politically homeless after watching the polarisation in politics since the referendum, and I wanted to start building my home in a party that has tolerance and openness enshrined in its core.
Women in the Liberal Democrats should take the party forward to the point where we know that it will be tolerant of everything except intolerance and hate. Misogyny and sexism is not gone but it is on the way out.
Hannah is a member of the West Norfolk Liberal Democrat party, and joined because of Brexit.
In the Liberal Democrats, I have found a party that really seems to treat women as equals, and supports women, especially young women, as political equals. It supports young, female, political ambition and nurtures those wishing to pursue such things. I have also found a party that, in the light of the ongoing crisis of Brexit, supports Britain's membership of the EU and continues to fight for that, and what is right and good in modern Britain. I have also found that the party supports young LGBT+ women, and am proud to be a young, female, bisexual Liberal Democrat.
Jilly is a feminist, producer and manager of small boys, and is member of the Cheadle Liberal Democrats.
I got invovled because I needed to act in the face of the lack of inclusion and engagement in British politics right now. In that spirit, I recently became the Diversity Officer for Cheadle.
Humanity needs Feminism. A truly inclusive society values all contributors equally, and having a voice isn't dictated by how deep your pockets are or which academic institutions you've attended. The Liberal Democrats are the only political party in which I have seen that principle echoed.
The world post-Brexit has shown itself to be divisive, and so many are profiteering from that fracturing of otherwise warm and open community. That's not a world that can sustain, and I believe passionately that we all have a role to play in creating the future that we want to see. Within the realm of gender equality, there is still a phenomenal amount to be done, and it's wonderful to be a part of a party that is making real strides in that regard - acknowledging there's still a way to go!
Jennifer is PPC for Walsall North, councillor candidate for Streetly ward and training coordinator for her region.
I joined the party after seeing the lovely Norman Lamb performing at Question time in my home town of Sutton Coldfield. I am passionate about protecting our NHS, positive mental health, equality and fairness.
I've found a home in the Liberal Democrats. I am recognised and appreciated for what I bring to the table, positively encouraged to get involved at all levels, and supported by so many experienced people. What's more, I work alongside people I respect and admire. When you work in teams that embrace Liberal values, anything is possible! I'd love to see more women in the party in future representing a broad array of ages, interests, preferences, beliefs and ambitions. Diversity brings strength, knowledge, ideas and wisdom.
Channelled correctly, we can get serious competitive advantage. Success is within our grasp!
Hannah is the Chair of Sefton Central and Bootle local Liberal Democrat Party. Under her leadership she has made the Local Party compliant, led campaigning activity in a target ward and encouraged lots more members to stand as candidates and become active in the local party.
Being a women can be difficult, particularly in the male dominated world of politics. But I believe it is crucially important to use the skills that we each have to empower and motivate fellow Lib Dem women to become politically active; whether that is by standing for election, by getting involved in local campaigning or by helping to run the Local Party. Everyone has something to offer, and I am incredibly grateful that I have the chance to lead such a brilliant team and watch it grow.
Hannah was elected to Barnsley Council as the first and only Lib Dem for 8 years, and is also the PPC for her home constituency of Penistone and Stocksbridge.
I have been active in the party since 2017, managing campaigns and organising volunteers. I know how hard it is to get women involved, and struggle to get a better gender balance on our campaign teams. I know there are some fantastic women in this party and I want to say - please get involved. From delivering leaflets to standing for Parliament, we need more fabulous, ambitious, innovative young women at every level.
Irina von Wiese
Irina is a member of the Hammersmith & Fulham local Liberal Democrat party and a candidate for the 2020 London Assembly elections.
I've been a Lib Dem supporter and civil rights activist for over 30 years and I've stood in a number of local elections. I'm a dual German-British citizen and care so much about helping refugees who come to the UK looking for a better life. For the past 2 years, Irina and her teenage daughter have been sharing their home with young refugee women from Africa.
As a compliance lawyer in a global technology organisation, I often find myself the only woman in the meeting room, having to stand up to some very powerful men and tell them what they can't do. Being a Liberal Democrat has strengthened my belief in equality and empowerment, and enabled me to help other women to step up.
I am very happy to have passed on my passion for politics to my teenage daughter who joined Liberal Democrats (and I only found out by chance!)
Sinéad is an Action Day Coordinator, Candidate for St Albans DC, Therapist and mother of two girls.
All my life I have been passionate about equality. These days I am inspired by my two girls Lyra age 8 and Sanna age 7. I want them to grow up believing they can achieve their dreams and that all opportunities are open to them. Introducing them to politics will hopefully inspire them to develop a passion and show them how important it is to have women fully represented across politics.
My own political inspiration is Daisy Cooper, parliamentary candidate for St Albans. Her passion, honesty and determination has moved me to want to become a councillor in the hope that my contribution will get Daisy elected as our MP.
Amy is a member of the Windsor and Maidenhead local Liberal Democrat party, and co-founder of The Baby Bank Charity
I joined the Liberal Democrats after the EU referendum as I saw Brexit as something that would create inequality and limit horizons; the opposite to what I tried to do as a teacher. I wanted all my pupils to have the opportunity to achieve their goals, knowing that many would still have to overcome the barriers that remain in our society, due to gender, race or poverty.
In the Liberal Democrats, I’ve found a group of open, tolerant people who work tirelessly towards the same goals. I’ve been encouraged and supported to get involved through campaigning and standing in local elections as well as fighting against Brexit. Seeing women like Layla Moran (a fellow teacher) and Jo Swinson (also parenting small children!) has inspired me to see my place in the world of politics.
Izzy is a member of South West Birmingham Liberal Democrat Party and joined because of the party's policy on fighting Brexit and championing local issues. Since joining in 2017 she has stood for local election and become the chair of her local branch.
As a retired Police Officer I have witnessed for myself the injustices and inequalities in life over many years and have never tired of fighting for people who cannot always help themselves. I believe passionately that no person should ever be held back from their potential due to gender, race, background, resources or from just being different. Living in Birmingham I celebrate every day the amazing diversity of wonderful people I share my city with. I have always loved working in the community but since joining the Liberal Democrats, with the support of new like minded friends, I have taken my campaigning to another level - both against the car crash that is Brexit and getting things done in my local community. And I love every minute.
Mel is a member of Worcester City Liberal Democrats. Mel stands as a candidate for Claines Ward and is looking to win in 2019 (lost by just 62 votes in 2018). Mel is also Treasurer and cook for the party.
A member of Liberal Democrat Women, the party does genuinely care and act upon, gender equality. I celebrate Jo Swinson's victory on the year-long proxy voting trial.
Rebecca is a member of the Cotswolds local Liberal Democrat party, and joined because of the 2016 Referendum. She has been a member of the local executive and is currently running for Town Council in the May 2019 elections.
In my professional life it doesn't occur to me to think that there's something I can't do because I'm female. I'd like to see this concept applied more in politics, generally, and Parliament becoming not just more representative of the population as a whole - there's still a lot of work to do there - but also aligned to the realities of modern life with, for example, hours that would suit families. The Liberal Democrats are the party that I see having the most even handed approach to all members of society, and I appreciate that.