Cllr Jane Urquhart, Nottingham City Councillor for Sherwood ward and Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Heritage, writes about the significance of #Vote100 and the work we still have to do to achieve gender equality in politics…
Democracy and the right to express your view on who should govern are basic rights that all of us are entitled to. I remember casting my first vote in the general election of 1987, a vote that some might have seen as ‘wasted’ living then in a Tory stronghold, but knowing clearly where my allegiance lay. I voted, and I felt it meant something, to know that when the votes were counted there would be some that did not endorse the government of the day. Voting itself and being registered to vote are so important, women should be heard, their voices counted and their views known, which is why when I am talking to women on the doorsteps in the city and further afield I always encourage participation.
As a woman politician I have spent a lot of time in rooms full of men, rooms where getting my voice heard has been difficult, and where a woman’s perspective has (even in the 21st century) been missing. As the politician responsible for the tram, and now for housing in the city I can think of scores of occasions on which I have had to wear a hard hat and protective boots to a site visit, and there has been a scramble to find something small enough, women’s sizes are not that well catered for on construction sites! Our political model still favours masculine forms of oppositional debate, women have a role to play in changing that mode of discourse to a more inclusive, participatory one. Passionate about the issues that impact on our lives, and driving change through democratic engagement, rather than reliant on old models of power and influence.
I have been a voter for 30 of the 100 years that women have had the right to vote, so much has been achieved, but so much more remains to be done to ensure that our democracy reflects all of its citizens. I am proud to be part of that drive for continuing change.