Ruth: parties must do more to promote women

POLITICAL parties must redouble their efforts to ensure more women are involved in front-line politics, Ruth Davidson will say this evening.

Speaking at a Women2Win fundraising event in London, the Scottish Conservative leader will warn that the sexual harassment scandal of the last few weeks could deter women from entering politics.

“We need to flood the dark corners of parliament – and politics in general - with the disinfectant of sunshine,” she will say.

Greater gender equality in politics will lead to “a more balanced culture, one where sexual harassment and bullying are challenged, not wished away,” she will add.

Women2Win was set up by Prime Minister Theresa May in 2005 to ensure more women were selected by the Conservatives in winnable seats across the UK.

Last year, Ruth launched the group in Scotland with the aim of recruiting more women for future elections.

Since the launch of the group, the number of female Conservative MPs has risen from 17 to 68.

However, in her speech this evening Ruth says far more needs to be done, starting by reforming workplace standards in politics.

She will say:

“Let me make my position plain – we need to throw open the doors on what has gone on in the past. We need to flood the dark corners of parliament – and politics in general - with the disinfectant of sunshine.”

“It is not acceptable for power to be abused; for people to be harassed or for the deck to be stacked against those who report wrong behaviour.”

“We ask our political representatives to do a professional job; the very least they should expect is a professional workplace with decent HR practices in which to function.”

“We need to address those misdeeds because we cannot let them put off the next generation of lawmakers.”

On Women2Win, she adds:

“In truth, my party is behind the curve. With a third of female MPs in the Commons, less than a quarter of the Conservative group are women. While this may constitute a significant improvement - in 2010 it was less than a sixth - it shows how far we have still to go.”

“That’s why the Prime Minister helped set up Women2Win a number of years ago to identify, recruit, assess, support and mentor female candidates. And why I’ve adopted and developed Women2Win for the Scottish party  - and invited Theresa May to help me launch it last year.”

“The organisation provides practical help and information for women who want to get involved in the Conservative party.”

“Most importantly, it provides a supportive community of experienced women who can answer the questions and sometimes, concerns, of women seeking a career in politics.” 

“It doesn’t focus on targets, or quotas, or short term fixes.”

“Rather, Women2Win focuses on the long term solutions to the problem of helping women enter and prosper in politics.”