Winning with Women

Handing over the reins

First published on Progressonline

Progress has tried to lead the field on the representation of women in the Labour party. We were the first grouping to ban ‘all-male panels’ – long before my time, under the leadership of Jessica Asato – and pushed for the party to limit them at Labour party conference. The Progress strategy board is gender-balanced. John Woodcock, the then chair, was the first to sign the Labour Women’s Network #Powerpledge. When the Labour party has no women in leadership positions outside Scotland, Progress has Alison McGovern as chair. My predecessor, Robert Philpot, did lots of work with fellow thinktanks and party groupings on generating new women writers and speakers at events. We now regularly share the names of excellent writers and speakers we come across. Women-only training sessions on political writing and on standing for public office have become regulars in the organisation’s calendar. The first Winning With Women conference, with all-women speakers, was held in 2013. In recent months, the number of women writing for Progress magazine has leapt. But you just need to look at the gender balance of our staff team to see the distance we must travel. We must all do more. (more…)

Making the PowerPledge a reality

photoFirst published on Progressonline

Yesterday John Woodcock and Alison McGovern signed the Labour Women’s Network #PowerPledge on behalf of Progress. We are very proud to be among the first signatories and we will be framing it for the office, but it will not be sitting on a shelf gathering dust. This pledge, as Jacqui Smith wrote on our site on Monday, is not only important in its own right in seeking to protect hard-fought wins like all-women shortlists and a shadow cabinet en route for 50-50 representation, it offers a challenge to organisations like ours to always do better.

As a start, I call on all Progress members, in fact all Labour members, to sign it. Even better would be if some Tories or Liberal Democrats would sign it too. They are both parties desperately in need of AWS systems and a big increase of women in their cabinet-level representation. Saying what we want the world to be like is an important first step, but the action that follows counts tenfold. (more…)