The Labour Party hosted a Women’s Political Participation Conference in April 2021, which took place online via zoom.
The conference provided a platform for women politicians and activists from around the world to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on women’s representation and participation, the effect of the pandemic on children’s lives and the increase in violence against women and girls. MP and Labour WFD Governor, Rushanara Ali chaired the conference. Thirty-seven representatives from sister parties and organisations attended and the programme provided an opportunity for the participants to engage with senior stakeholders and politicians through a series of online sessions followed by a chance to discuss and share knowledge and opinions with each other.
The sessions were largely focused on the impact of Covid-19 on different groups of people. The first session was on women’s representation with guest speakers, Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP and Sonja Lokar, International Expert, speaking on how to make women politically and economically independent and how there is a need to be elected on equal terms, not just equal numbers.
The second session was on activism, campaigning and women’s political participation during the pandemic with Sharon Hodgson MP as chair and speakers including, Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Digital, Jelena Mitrovic, International Secretary of the SDP, Montenegro and Nana Yaa Akyempim Jantuah, Secretary General CPP, Ghana, speaking on the difficulties women have faced getting involved in politics during the pandemic.
The third session was on the effect of the Covid-19 crisis on children’s lives with guest speaker, Sarah Brown, Chair of Theirworld, speaking on how the world’s most vulnerable children have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
The final session was on the impact of Covid-19 and ending violence against women and girls with guest speakers, Fatemah Khafagy from the Tha’era Network and Margaret Curran, International consultant on governance, political and women’s equality, speaking on the global increase in domestic violence and the need to look at women’s leadership and connect with women at the grassroots level. The participants had the chance to engage in a discussion after each session and the event concluded with a discussion on next steps to increase political participation for young women and girls.