“In 2006 I joined my party and was accepted onto the candidates list. In 2008 I was selected to fight a seat. In 2010 I became the first Anglo-African female Conservative MP, then Minister, and in 2018 I was appointed a Vice-Chairman on the Party. If I can do this, so can you, and that’s why I’m proud to back 50:50’s #AskHerToStand campaign. You can make a difference.”
– Helen Grant MP
Helen Grant MP is a Conservative Party politician. She has served as an MP for Maidstone and The Weald since 2010. Helen was not only the first black woman to be elected as a Conservative MP, but also the first black woman to be selected as a candidate to stand for a Conservative-held parliamentary seat.
For our March 2018 edition of 50:50 Voice (subscribe here!) we asked Helen 10 questions about her experience as a women in politics.
1. What was your first experience of politics / political life?
I remember my mother’s positive reaction to Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy policy for council house tenants, which we were at the time.
2. What inspired you to run as an MP?
Having been a family solicitor with my own business for 23 years I was looking for new challenges in my life. Becoming an MP seemed a natural step to take, I believed I had many transferrable skills to bring to the role and I had the unending encouragement and support of my husband.
3. What do you hope to achieve in Parliament?
To provide my constituents with the help they need and to make a difference nationally and internationally in the fight for equalities and against discrimination.
4. What is the hardest thing about running for election?
Knowing how best to deal with nastiness, fake news and mis-information from other parties and social media.
5. What is your favourite thing about being a woman in politics? And least favourite?
I am here at a time when there is real change taking place in the gender equality arena. It is great to be an active campaigner and participant in that mission.
6. What one thing would you change about Parliament to improve access for women?
We need to keep working arrangements under review; sitting hours and the ability to vote by proxy for Members on maternity / paternity leave would, be a good example.
7. Why is it important to have a gender-balanced Parliament?
We must strive for a 50:50 gender balanced Parliament because it should truly reflect the population it represents. It means we would achieve a wider, more balanced range of opinion, approach and ideas. It also means that issues which impact more directly upon women, like women’s health and the gender pay gap, are more likely to be debated and addressed.
8. What has been your proudest moment as a woman in politics?
Answering a desperate call from a local family and taking immediate action to help save their son who was dying in a Balinese hospital after being mugged. He is now home, married and with two little children.
9. What advice would you give women considering running for office?
Once you commit, don’t be put off by naysayers and doubters. Keep you goal at the centre of your vision and aim straight for it.
10. Which woman do you most admire?
My mother and Oprah Winfrey.