Lauren Dobson-Hughes is the first person I met in my work with the NDP. She worked in Dawn Black’s office when I started volunteering there, and she moved to Caucus Services not long after I started working there. Lauren is fascinating. She’s British, and follows both UK and Canadian politics passionately. She is someone who can vocalize her opinions beautifully and I’m very glad to have crossed paths with her. She blogs at A Fate of Possibilities. Below is Lauren’s answer to the question: Why is it important for women to be politically involved?
A political system is supposed to represent the people it serves. It is designed to debate and address the issues we, as a populace, care about. A political system – be it a council, a parliament, an assembly or a committee – is supposed to make tough decisions that keep our city, our nation, or even our school or favourite charity, thriving, productive and successful.
But how can it address our issues and understand our lives when less than a quarter of its members are women?
Women’s involvement is not important. It is vital. A system where 50 percent of the population is silenced is no system at all. We must be involved because we cannot, we simply must not, allow our thoughts and our passions to be drowned out. If we do not raise our own voices and express our own needs, who will do it for us? Because we matter. We are not an optional sidebar to a political system. We are an integral part.
Women are not a monolithic we. ‘We’ do not represent one particular view. Nor should we only address only ‘women’s issues’, like childcare, reproductive rights or equal pay. We have much to contribute to debates on the economy, on secure jobs, on defence and foreign affairs, on the environment and energy policy.
In many ways, I’m involved because I want to set a good example to my future daughter or son. I want them to understand that being engaged, that caring, and caring deeply, is a Good Thing. Working to better someone else’s life is, for me, the pinnacle of achievement.
It can be hard to be politically active. Sometimes, the barriers are enormous and spiky. Often, it takes a role model, a helping hand, a friendly push and a hell of a lot of courage to get involved. Sometimes, it doesn’t even feel worth it.
But it is. It so definitely, absolutely is.