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Media: A message for London from Women in Politics

They may make up about half the population, but women don’t have the voice they deserve.

That’s what a new London group, Women in Politics, is saying. And its members are out to redress the balance, encouraging more women to get involved.

Starting as an offshoot of the engagement group Pints and Politics, they’ve already had one meeting and are looking ahead to next year’s municipal election. So if you’re a politician, get ready to be scrutinized through a “gender lens.”

“We’re going into an election, but how many women are going to run?” asked Women in Politics coordinator Shawna Lewkowitz.

She added: “Women’s voices aren’t being heard and valued as strongly in the community.

“We’re looking for women to step forward and be engaged and to be acknowledged in their engagement.”

Just weeks ago, the United Nations said that 30 per cent of candidates need to be women before their views can be represented properly.

London already has five female council members out of 15, but the London group wants to keep it that way – and improve the figure if it can.

There are three goals. They want to increase the representation of women during and after elections, but also their participation in politics at all levels, including behind the scenes on campaigns. There’s also a need to make political issues more accessible to women, because often there are barriers to them taking part.

So that’s where Lewkowitz’s “gender lens” comes in. Political issues will be examined from a female point of view.

For example, take transport. Lewkowitz said the debate doesn’t always emphasize women’s needs, like access at the right times, space for strollers or safety late at night.

So the members of Women in Politics want to make it easier for women to speak out. They plan meetings with female politicians as guest speakers, visits to campaigns and to city hall and a “citizen kit” which explains issues and how to have a say.

If you want to get involved, look for the Twitter hashtag #fempoliLDN or email Lewkowitz at shawna@lewkowitz.com.

Originally published in: Metro London on November 25, 2013 by Mike Donachie

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