THE BLOG

We Must Address the Lack of Visible Older Women in Public Life

23/03/2016 16:47 GMT | Updated 24/03/2017 09:12 GMT

all women everywhere

Standing to become a Member of Parliament in my sixties is one of the most challenging and daunting experiences I have ever been through - but it is also one of the most rewarding.

As a women who entered politics later in life I want to encourage other women to realise their full potential and help others to get involved in public life. Women have a wealth of experience and expertise but unfortunately we are less likely to put our head above the parapet.

That's why I decided to set up the All Party Parliamentary Group on Encouraging Older Women in Public Life to raise awareness of the skill-level and experience that older women can bring to organisations and campaigns.

Women over 50 make up 19% of society but this isn't reflected in public life - there is a dearth of older women on TV and radio and we are under-represented on local authorities, in Parliament and in other public arenas. The life skills older women have to offer greatly enrich public life and helping more women into these areas of influence will help to truly reflect our society.

One example of the great campaign work being done by older women is the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign. The women involved in the campaign have worked tirelessly for the hundreds of thousands of women affected by UK government decisions to increase the state pension age without properly notifying those who would be impacted by the change.

It is thanks to the women behind the WASPI campaign that this important issue has been brought to the fore and has been debated no less than four times in the House of Commons. Without their work to promote an e-petition, which attracted more than 140,000 signatures, spread the word on social media and lobby MPs like myself, these women might have been just another group of silent victims of deep unfairness.

When I was elected to Parliament in May 2015 a lot of people asked me if I wished I had become an MP when I was younger and immediately I would reply that I am glad, and extremely proud, of everything I have accomplished in my life so far. My life experiences allow me to approach my work as an MP from a totally different perspective and I feel all the better to represent my constituents because of it. I would not wish to promote older women above and beyond anyone else but we have an enormous amount to offer and we should be recognised for that.

I am a wife, a mother, a granny, have been a teacher, a trade union official, an auditor, a housewife, a student and a secretary of my local community council. These experiences - and others - allow me to serve my community to the best of my ability.

I am very much looking forward to developing the APPG on Encouraging Older Women in Public Life and working with members of both Houses of Parliament to help more women to reach their goals.The parliamentary group will look at the barriers which women my age face. We need to address the lack of older women, and do what we can to improve their role in society.

Marion Fellows is the SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw

HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today. Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com with a summary of who you are and what you'd like to blog about