By Shana Roberts
I have been selected to represent the Liberal Democrats as a Parliamentary candidate for Telford. Amazingly, we now have four women standing in Telford & Wrekin for four different parties.
I had the privilege to take part in the Ask Her To Stand Day in Parliament last November. This amazing event showed me that I was not alone in wanting to change our political system.
I met inspirational women from across our country, women of all ages and backgrounds, united in our ambition to help others and change the world for the better.
Political allegiances didn’t matter. Education and income were irrelevant. We stood together to learn about the importance of our own contribution and the importance of the women who came before us.
We heard about real experiences. We heard about real challenges. We were open and honest. It was brutal but beautiful.
Inspired by example
I was invited to this event by my local MP, Lucy Allan, who I am now standing against in my hometown in this year’s general election. I am immensely thankful for the opportunity she gave me and by obtaining a better understanding of her role and responsibilities, I was able to appreciate just how hard our MPs work.
I learned that MPs are not just political mouthpieces in suits, they are human beings with feelings, family, dreams and fears. Something we can easily forget.
Real role models
50:50 Parliament gave me hope for our future, but most of all it made me think about the role models that my young niece and her friends have. It made me want a better world for them, a world where they can speak and be heard, a world where they matter, a world where they are equal.
MP or not, it is my duty to build other women up, to show them that anything is possible and help lead the way for others.
Now I am standing in the next General Election, probably at one of the most contentious times in our recent history. I am apprehensive about the next few weeks, and with each negative comment or insult, I have to push through and tell myself that this is not about me, this isn’t even about Brexit.
Why am I standing?
I believe the true measure of a person isn’t how much you take from the world, but the value of what you give back.
I am standing first and foremost to ensure that no one in my constituency gets left behind. That no one loses out on an education and employment opportunities by virtue of their postcode. I have lived in the most deprived areas of my town almost all of my life, I know what it is like to feel unsafe, ignored and alone. If I can do even a little to safeguard our families, improve our services and point people in the direction of help, then it is worth it.
I never aspired to be a politician. Even now I wince at the word. The connotations of politics have become so negative. We now need grassroots community champions who are an integral part of the community they say they want to represent. This is what I aspire to be.
Now more than ever, we need strong female voices, from all cultures and backgrounds, to speak out against tyranny, corruption and misogyny. Generations of young people need to have positive role models that will represent everyone. Leaders who will protect the vulnerable and be a voice for the voiceless. Much more than just a pretty face.
It’s about standing for what you believe in and honouring the people that came before us to ensure that women can and will continue to stand. To be heard, to be seen and to be part of our her-story.
More importantly, we need to work together to set the standards we expect to see in others. Only then will we be one more step closer to equality.
Brookside Councillor and Parliamentary Candidate for Telford
Twitter – @cllrshana
Facebook – shana4Telford
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About 50:50 Parliament 50:50 Parliament is a cross party campaign taking action to get more women elected to Westminster. With their #AskHerToStand and #SignUpToStand initiatives 50:50 aims to inspire, encourage and support political engagement. Join 50:50 at www.5050parliament.co.uk; 50:50 Parliament on Facebook; 50:50 Parliament on Twitter; 50:50 Parliament YouTube; sign http://www.change.org/5050parliament.
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