Votes for Women

A recent conversation between Deputy Yvonne Burford and myself ………
Yvonne “I’ve launched a campaign to get more women elected as Deputies in the States of Guernsey in the 2016 election called 40 in 16, the target being to have 40 women standing in the election next year. Are you in favour of seeing more women in the States?”
Michelle “Of course! I passionately believe that gender balanced leadership is better for business and better for society as a whole. There has been heaps of research on this subject, showing gender balanced leadership leading to better decision making in terms of both fiscal and social policy. And take a look at what happened in Iceland, after their financial crisis, they elected women. This is why governments around the world are looking at getting more women elected! As a society, I believe we really need the government to represent the diverse nature of the electorate, which is 50% female. To paraphrase Ed Miliband – am I in favour? – Hell yeah!
Yvonne “Great – so are you going to stand then?”
Michelle “What ME! Err no I don’t think that’s a role for me!!!”
Yvonne “Why not?”
Michelle “Well time for a start, I have other work commitments and my family …”
Yvonne “But that’s the beauty of the role – apart the dates of States meetings it can be very flexible”
Michelle “OK, I hear it’s not very well paid then!”
Yvonne “Well, it’s around £32,000 for around 25 hours a week as a back-bencher. Depending on your other commitments it means you could combine it with other flexible work, such as the work you do.”
Michelle “Mmm that doesn’t sound as bad as I thought, but I still don’t think I’m the one”
Yvonne “OK, so what’s the real reasons then?”
Michelle “Well, for one I would hate to have the level of negativity you have had to withstand from the media and on social media directed towards me!”
Yvonne “Well, I have rather stuck my head above the parapet, but generally back-benchers don’t get that much flack.”
Michelle “Mmm, yes I see what you mean, there are politicians in the house who I’ve actually never heard so I get your point, but still ….”
Yvonne “Yes?”
Michelle “It seems so lonely, you don’t have any assistance, no support network to provide practical or emotional support and to do the job you have to stick your neck out – whoa that sounds vulnerable!”
Yvonne “I agree that when I was canvassing I could really have done with some support just to look after my son for a few hours while I went door-stepping, but once elected there is support from other deputies.”
Michelle “So what if that support was available, what difference would that make to a would-be politician?”
Yvonne “I think that would be a huge benefit to anyone thinking of standing”
Michelle “OK – I’m still not at all sure that standing is right for me, but I do really feel like there is something I can contribute here and I imagine there are others out there too, who would like to see and support more women in the States, but are not sure it is right for them either”
Yvonne “I like the idea – people could contribute whatever they could from stuffing envelopes, to emotional support, providing design for manifestos, proof reading, confidence building, to walking the dog …..”
Michelle “What if we took the WDF idea of women helping women into the political arena as a support function for those brave, brilliant women who actually are willing to stand for election, then what?”
Yvonne “Shall we find out?”