Earlier this morning, I was idly daydreaming about what the future may hold for me. I wrote a blog post two years ago agonising over what I would do "When I Grow Up", articulating my anxiety at what a career gap would do to my employment prospects and how I felt at odds with my role as a stay at home mother. It suddenly dawned on me that since joining the Green Party, that anxiety has vanished.
The time I commit to the party now is entirely voluntary, but the experience I'm gaining and the skills I'm polishing have given me a sense of empowerment that I thought I'd lost. Politics is traditionally thought of as male-dominated territory - not just male, but white, upper class, able-bodied, public-school educated males. What could an ordinary working class* woman hope to achieve?
*delusions of grandeur and a predilection for reading The Guardian notwithstanding!
Shahrar Ali's rousing speech at Green Party Conference earlier this month spoke of the "Politics of Imagination" and challenged us all to take ownership of ineqality within the party and outwards, in wider society.
"You don't have to be a woman to fight patriarchy, to want to reassure a voter on the doorstep, no she doesn’t have to wait for her husband before talking politics with you. You only need to be Green.
You don't have to be black to want to rail against racial prejudice or persecution. You only need to be Green.
You don't have to be gay to want to march alongside PRIDE. You only need to be Green."
I know I don't speak for all women when I say this; I know that women with a disability, gay women, transgender women, and women of colour experience complex layers of intersecting oppression that I cannot claim to understand - but today I realised what an awesome sense of pride I feel in belonging to a political party in which my gender will never be a barrier to my ambition.
The Green Party's leader is a woman, as is our MP, our peer in the House of Lords, two of our three MEPs and one of our deputy leaders. Six amazing, inspirational women.
I am greatly encouraged that the Green Party is THE future of politics, and represents a truly progressive outlook where equality is the automatic starting point for all people, not just a dream. The people I have had the privilege of meeting and working with so far have restored my faith in humanity and shown that there is a chance for my generation to break away from the oppressive, nasty, divisive narrative that has pervaded politics so far. It is time for the government to stop being the playground for white privileged males and to become representative of our beautiful, colourful, diverse nation.
As today's news is dominated by Scotland's referendum decision to remain part of the United Kingdom, there is a fast-paced undercurrent that sees how people are beginning to reengage with politics and bring democracy home. It is time for us to harness that current and turn it into a tidal wave. It is time to rejuvenate British politics and I am exhilarated to play my part.
|Yours truly with Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett.|