In celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom, female politicians from 5 continents and 100 countries sat in the House of Commons on November 8th. This event was known as the Women MPs of the World Conference.
Women from all over the world have fought their way into almost every parliament. Even with this major accomplishment, women are often not on equal terms with men in politics. Not only do female politicians want to have equal power with their male colleagues, but they want to make change for the women and girls in their own counties.
The Women MPs of the World Conference allowed female political figures to gather together to share their experience, successes, and setbacks within parliament. The event also helped to promote a powerful global network between women.
This historic event was the first of its kind and co-hosted by the Labour MP Harriet Harman and the mother of the house and the international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt. A few of the attendees of the event included:
- Shireen Sharmeen Chaudhurya, a speaker of the Bangladeshi parliament
- Clarice Modeste Curwan, Grenada’s health minister
- Janete Capiberibe, a member of Brazil’s chamber of deputies and indigenous rights campaigner
- Marta Lucía Ramirez, Colombia’s vice-president
- Bassma Kodmani, a member of the Syrian opposition
The morning of the conference focused on the challenges that female politicians face worldwide. Different MPs shared their experiences and what they have found to help counter sexual harassment and other challenges such as the balance between parliamentary and family responsibilities, and how to get more women involved in politics.
Nafisa Shah, a member of the national assembly in Pakistan, spoke on the matter of men’s perception of women in politics. She explained that even when women become prime ministers, male colleagues often don’t consider women as real representatives and call their seats “charity seats”.
In the afternoon the discussion explored how women parliamentarians are leading and creating policy change. The conversation focused on the following four policy areas that affect the lives of women and girls:
- Promoting women’s economic empowerment
- Ending violence against women and girls
- Increasing women’s access to voluntary family planning
- Breaking the barriers to girls’ education
Overall, the event aimed to inspire the next generation. Having many women of political power under one roof highlighting their achievements and plans helps to demonstrate to the younger generation how elected women are shaping the political agenda.