A statement from Frances Scott, Founder and Director of 50:50 Parliament. In conjunction with the 50:50 Diversity Team: Nanda Manley-Browne, Yemisi Akindele, Fatima Joji, Dipa Vaya and Sonul Badiani-Hamment
Like many I was disgusted by the footage of George Floyd’s death. Watching his life slip away on the asphalt for over nine minutes as he called out “I can’t breathe”, I felt outrage and anger. All over the world people have been reeling from the incident – but this example of systemic racism is just the tip of the iceberg. Most racism goes unrecorded, seeping secretly through our society.
As a white woman I realise that I too can act complacently on the issue of racism. This can no longer go on. Racism cannot be ignored. This is a turning point. Complacency concerning difference and diversity is not acceptable. It is not enough to just say “Well I am not racist” we all have to take action to fight this inherited system and it’s historic roots.
Our mission at 50:50 Parliament is to build a better democracy, one in which women have equal seats and equal say. As a proudly intersectional campaign, we are here to help ALL women. We salute Rosa Parks, the mother of the Civil Rights Movement, who took a stand when she occupied her seat on the bus. At 50:50 we recognise that BAME and many other women face multiple hurdles and more than double discrimination. We recognise that the fight is not won if all women do not have a seat at the table. We need a diverse, truly representative democracy that draws upon the widest possible pool of talent and experience.
We are working towards this goal and are proud that 50 women who were selected to stand at the last election were part of 50:50 and 20% of those women were from minority groups currently underrepresented in Parliament.
But we want, and need, to do better.
As Maya Angelou said:
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
Around a year ago, we started to recruit a diverse range of women on to our #AskHerToStand Teams to support women from minority groups. Now we have created the Diversity Team who will start to build better systems of support. We want our campaign to be more inclusive and accessible. We are setting up special Diversity Networks to offer additional help to women from different minority groups, reaching out to women of differing ethnicities, sexualities and physical abilities. Over the next few weeks we will be sending out a Diversity Survey so we can identify who might need the additional support of our Diversity Networks.
I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Nanda Manley-Browne, Yemisi Akindele, Fatima Joji, Dipa Vaya and Sonul Badiani-Hamment for being part of the new 50:50 Diversity Team. They are giving their time and experience to 50:50 and have each written below from their own experience about why now is the time to breathe more diversity into our democracy.
As Michelle Obama once said, “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for a world as it should be? As women, we must continue to stand up for ourselves, we must continue to stand up for each other and as women, we must continue to stand up for justice for all.” Therefore, let us use the recent events, as a catalyst for real and meaningful change. One that involves all of us reflecting, and each one determining to change, in line with our shared values. I am delighted to be part of the 50:50 Parliament Diversity Team and I look forward to supporting the organisation in becoming more culturally intelligent.
About this time last year, I was frustrated about an incident involving race, this had me asking myself the question; “Where is your voice?”. I turned my frustration around; I made a decision; I joined a political party; I went to #SignUpToStand via 50:50. The 50:50 team inspired me through the discussions and workshops on our various platforms. This gave me the encouragement I needed. Within a year I have offered to help 50:50 as a member of their Diversity Team and will be supporting other women. I have been inspired to believe that I too can stand to be an MP. I am standing! Of course “Black Lives Matter”. One way of getting that message across is by being fully and appropriately represented. We need more women from diverse backgrounds to stand for Parliament, diversity is a beautiful thing. We need more women from diverse backgrounds to be in those corridors of power, lending their voices to decisions and policies being made.
Come join me as a 50:50 supporter as we mentor, inspire, nurture and transform women to stand for Parliament.
Multiculturalism and diversity is a huge part of Britain and we want to build a better democracy through our actions and policies. Many of Britain’s diverse voices are absent from the decision making table across all sectors. With voices absent we are seeing policies and solutions conceived from conjecture and guesswork. BAME women have multiple hurdles to overcome. There are misconceptions and prejudices about capabilities and culture that leave many BAME women struggling to access jobs or make progress in Britain today. We need to understand the harm ignoring this problem does. Embracing diversity means we can enjoy the rich policy solutions diversity brings. Only then will we build a better democracy and society for us all to enjoy.
Justin Trudeau once said “Diversity is the engine of invention. It generates creativity that enriches the world.” Therefore, we should all seek to have a better understanding of the communities we live in and strive for diverse representation in our democracy. I’m delighted to be part of 50:50 Parliament Diversity Team and look forward to working collaboratively to seek the change that we all desire.
Diversity of thought and leadership, and a Parliament that accurately reflects our country and the society it serves, are not merely desirable goals but are necessary cornerstones of democracy. I am proud to join the 50:50 Parliament Diversity Team and look forward to working in collaboration with you all to help build a more inclusive and representative future.