Democracy is not something to believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it’s something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles.
Abbie Hoffman, (1936-1989), American activist
The UK General Elections take place this Thursday, so if you’re registered to vote don’t forget to make time to do so.
You probably don’t need me to tell you why voting is important and why it is essential that you make sure that your opinion gets heard and that you have your say in how you want society to be run, but I do want to mention a few reasons why this election is significant for me as a woman.
- It is less than one hundred years since women were first entitled to vote. In 1918, the Representation of the People Act enfranchised all women over the age of 30 years to vote. In 1928, a renewed Representation of the People Act entitled women to suffrage on the same terms as men (at that time from aged 21 years).
- Women have been able to stand for election in the UK Parliament since 1918, but ninety-two years later women MPs are still a minority in Parliament. Before Parliament was dissolved on April 12th, only 19.5% of the MPs sitting in Westminster were women. This is far from representative of the UK population as a whole. There still needs to be a much greater increase of women’s participation in politics.
- Furthermore, as a female voter I am often targeted by politicians in a Kinder, Kirche and Küche paradigm, i.e. children, church and kitchen. This has been called ‘the Mumsnet election’ by some newspapers, but I resent being defined by biological and traditional roles. Parents can be people of any gender and women participate in all levels of society. Instead of talking down to me, why not simply show me your policies and I can make my own mind up?
With this in mind, I call upon all eligible voters to empower yourself and your society, and make sure you vote this Thursday. If you are still trying to decide who to vote for, there’s still time to look at the policies on offer.
- The British Humanist Society have produced an overview of the parties’ stances on various BHA policies as well as questions to ask your local candidates. Many other charities have produced similar documents.
- There are numerous websites which offer to match your views to the parties on offer after completing an online questionnaire. Such sites include Vote Match, Vote for Policies, Party Picker and Who should you vote for?
- You could choose to watch the Leaders’ Debates online. The last one on the economy is still available on iPlayer.
- Or you can read the party websites.
- I also recommend reading Christian blogger Cath’s account of why she won’t be voting for the Christian Party. An excellent reminder of why one should read the policies and think about how these apply to your views, rather than opting for token tribal allegiance.
Whichever way you decide to vote, make sure that you have your say in how you want society to be run and how you want to change the world for the better.