Just a third of council candidates in Norfolk are women
- Credit: PA
Could online meetings help get more women involved in local politics?
Less than a third of the candidates standing in this week’s local elections are women, with just 100 running in Norfolk, versus 223 men.
Analysis by this paper found that of the four largest parties, women make up 40.32pc of the Green Party Candidates, 38.55pc of Labour’s, 30.88pc of the Liberal Democrats and 20.48pc of the Conservatives.
None of the four candidates for Norfolk police and crime commissioner are women.
“The women on the council in my day packed a massive punch,” said Baroness Gillian Shephard, former South-West Norfolk MP and councillor.
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“I think local government is challenging for men and women, it’s time-consuming and it’s difficult for people who have a day-to-day job.
“The problem more for women is if they are juggling a family, a lot of the meetings are in the day time and if you are coming from far away it’s a big commitment.”
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While geography may make council life difficult for women, Baroness Shephard, who served as secretary of state for employment and women's issues in the Major government, thought a transition to more online work could help.
“I think the experience of working over lockdown will cause our councillors to look at making council work more user friendly,” she said.
“I expect councillors will have found it very effective working by Zoom.
“It could help advantage working women and it would be something positive to come from the pandemic.”
Encouraging women to get involved, Baroness Shephard said: “I think local government is absolutely as interesting as national politics.
“You see the result of your policies much more quickly and there is room for much more influence - it’s the sort of work where women excel.
“If they get involved, they will enjoy it and make a difference.”
The Fawcett Society, a leading UK charity campaigning for gender equality, has said more needs to be done to encourage women into politics.
Speaking about the national picture, Felicia Willow, CEO of the Fawcett Society said: “We need to see more women encouraged to get into politics – for many this begins at the local level. It is vital women are represented.”
Ms Willow agreed that remote working could help women get involved, making councils more flexible and accessible.