Project aims to encourage Wigan women to enter politics

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall

A project aimed at encouraging women to run for political office is holding an event to inspire Wiganers.

More than 25 women have already booked to attend the Parliament Project’s first workshop in Wigan, which will be held on Thursday.

Leigh MP Jo Platt will share her experiences of standing for election and working in the House of Commons.

The Parliament Project is a non-partisan initiative that seeks to inspire, empower and encourage women to run for political office in the UK.

It runs information and skills building events and offers peer networking to support women to get elected.

Since summer 2016 the Parliament Project has delivered workshops to more than 1,000 women in England and Scotland and aims to hold events in every town in the country.

Vicky Booth, co-director of the Parliament Project, said: “We know that there are huge numbers of women out there with the skills, talent and ambition to stand for elected office – but yet women made up only 29 per cent of candidates in the 2017 general election.

“The Parliament Project creates a space for women to explore their political ambition, understand what the roles involve, get inspired, and network with other women doing the same.”

The borough’s three MPs are all women – Lisa Nandy for Wigan, Yvonne Fovargue for Makerfield and Jo Platt for Leigh.

But only 30 per cent of the elected members on Wigan Council are women, with 23 women compared to 52 men.

Eve Holt, who will run the workshop and is one of the Parliament Project leads for the North, said Wigan was chosen for the workshop because of the council’s Believe In Her campaign and the efforts of chief executive Donna Hall, but also because of misogyny aimed at the borough’s female leaders.

She said: “That happens everywhere but there have been some particularly bad instances recently.”

The workshop will be open to all women, from any background and from across the political spectrum, including those not already involved in a political party.

They will be able to share their experiences and find out more about becoming a councillor or an MP.

The session will look at some of the barriers to women entering politics and how to tackle them.

Ms Holt said: “They are fearful of social media, of sexist and misogynist behaviour that people face. Our MPs and councillors have said

unfortunately there is a high level of abuse.

“Another barrier is around childcare and around the demands of being a councillor with lots of evening meetings, weekends of campaigning and the difficulties that can bring in balancing that with family life and the extra demand women can take on in a domestic and family role.

“There is also people’s own voice. Women need to be asked to stand three times before they will feel comfortable to come forward.”

The workshop – named Explore Your Political Pathway – will start at 6pm on Thursday in the council chamber at Wigan Town Hall.

Places should be booked in advance at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/exploring-your-political-pathway-wigan-tickets-43977795771.