Yesterday 70 sixth form girls were invited to Parliament to spend the day with MPs and help launch the 50:50 Parliament Ambassador Programme. The programme aims to inspire interest and engagement in politics, and was received enthusiastically by the young women. So much so that these leaders of tomorrow went on to cause quite a whirlwind at Westminster!
After an inspirational pep talk from 50:50 Parliament the fired up sixth formers & campaigners donned the t-shirts and arrived in Westminster Hall to meet MPs, as planned, for a historic photo.
However, the photograph created a collision with convention that was too much for the Parliamentary Authorities to bear, even on International Women's Day. It was probably the unparliamentary slogans, or it could have been our unparliamentary dress and hair, but there was suddenly some hesitation about whether the group photo could be released.
It was hoped that after the Equality Debate in the afternoon, in which Mims Davies MP said that "more has to be done" and Jess Phillips MP listed the 120 women that had died at the hands of men in the last year, Parliament might be moved. But no, the 50:50 campaign could not have the official photo.
Fortunately George Freeman MP saved the day by tweeting his support for the #5050Parliament campaign, including a photo!
So it is with great pleasure that we share this wonderful picture that was taken of 70 girls, newly recruited 50:50 Parliament Ambassadors, and MPs supporting 50:50 Parliament and our petition for parity, in the heart of Westminster on International Women's Day 2016.
It was a fantastic way for Parliament to show solidarity with the 50:50 Parliament Campaign and the UN hashtag #PledgeForParity and a clear demonstration that women are welcome at Westminster!
So, inspite of the little hiccough concerning photographic conventions in the Commons, 50:50 Parliament had a wonderful International Women's Day. It was a real pleasure to be with so many talented young women and future MPs. It was also awesome to hear female MPs speaking eloquently about a range of important, pressing issues that affect women's lives in the Equality debate brought by Mims Davies MP. During that debate several MPs decried the lack of women at Westminster.
To make your own personal #PledgeForParity sign the #5050ParliamentPetition at change.org/ 5050Parliament.co.uk. Currently fewer than 3 in 10 MPs and Peers are women. The 50:50 Parliament Petition asks all Party Leaders to take action for better gender balance in Parliament.
50:50 Parliament want women to be equally welcome at Westminster as MPs and Peers: not just on International Women's Day but every day of the year. 150 years after the Suffrage Petition of 1866 we are still shouting out for equality.
50:50 Parliament is an inclusive cross-party campaign, supported by men, women and people of all genders from across the UK. It aims to inspire interest and engagement in politics and calls upon all Party Leaders for solutions and action to ensure better gender balance in Parliament.
If you would like to become an Ambassador for the cause email Frances@5050Parliament.co.uk . 50:50 will provide training, materials and support to help Ambassadors engage more people across the country in the 50:50 Campaign.
For more information about the campaign see: