When Jessica invited me to contribute to this blog I like many others was stuck thinking about what to write. Having largely avoided the world of blogging before I was unsure about which issue to concentrate on, what aspect of my experience of being a Labour woman I wanted to draw on. Should I list the numerous times I have had to justify all women shortlists to my male friends, should I recall the horrific displays of sexism from those who claim to champion equality, or should I convey my frustration at the continued under representation of women within our decision making structures.
I could write something on all of these points, but then I know I am not alone in experiencing those feelings or situations- and instead I wish to use today- International Womens Day to talk about the positive aspects of being a woman within the Labour party, and the real benefits a blog like this could have on our movement.
As a young member of the party I have women to thank for my first exposure to the party and my involvement to date. It has been my fellow sisters who have explained the acroynms, pushed me to stand for positions and inspired me to get more involved. From the female MP I worked for right to my fellow Labour student feministas I have seen what a difference a supportive womens group can have on my experiences as a member, and the strength of our party as a whole.
But as many will no doubt highlight more needs to be done. This week at our NUS womens conference we highlighted time and time again the continuing barriers to female participation in politics and political life. Even within the student movement we see the traditional gender divisions continuing with high proportions of female welfare officers, and men continuing to dominate the roles of president and treasurer.
Of course more prominent women at the top isnt going to prevent the scenarios I highlighted at the start, plus we cannot expect all women to share in our own perceptions of feminism or sexism. However this blog and others like it is a welcome way of helping each other to share our experiences as female members of the party, as women who want to change the potrayal of women in the media, and as ultimately people who share a desire to see issues that affect women remaining or increasingly being represented within political thinking or discourse.
My own feminism has changed rapidly over the years from initially not associating with the term right through to today being active in NUS womens campaign. So whilst I am new and inexperienced blogger I look forward to reading and contributing to this invaluable page over the coming weeks and months.