I spent the afternoon & evening at the TUC Women’s conference in Eastbourne today, ahead of speaking at the Electoral Reform Society’s reception tonight. I’ve not spent much time at the TUC Women’s Conference before and I came to the conclusion that it is something we should promote more widely and treasure. The debates that were had in the time I was there were quite short debates, but meaningful and rich with delegates showing their real experience of the issues and challenges. Just some of the issues debated were violence against women, abortion rights, free schools, public services, safety on transport. Issues debated by women from the point of view of women. The TUC brings together working women from a far greater range of backgrounds which made this a people’s debate beyond a political debate, in a conference where people were much more free to connect the personal and political. The discussion at the reception this evening also addressed women’s political representation. I have been making the argument in speeches recently that political equality is not just a consequence that follows from social equality, but in fact is something we must now see as a pre-requisite to social equality. If you don’t have the voices of men and women more equally in political decision making we'll continue to be making decisions from the narrow perspective of a minority.
Seema Malhotra is co-founder and Director of the Fabian Womens Network and a former National Chair of the Fabian Society. From May-Oct 2010 she was Political Advisor to Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP in the Leader of the Opposition's Office. She was the West Midlands Labour Party's regional policy coordinator and adviser to Regional Ministers Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP and Ian Austin MP. She is active in the Co-operative Party and Unite and speaks and writes in national media on gender issues, regional and national politics.
Seema is a freelance business and public services adviser and has over ten years experience with leading firms Accenture and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. She has worked with a range of government departments in the UK including Revenues and Customs, Ministry of Justice and the Home Office. She led the cross-Government programme Increasing Diversity in Public Appointments working with Whitehall, headhunters, business and community groups. She has also advised the video games industry on their child safety agenda.She is a former school governor and candidate for the London Assembly. In 2007 she was shortlisted for the Asian Women of Achievement awards.