We need to encourage women with young families to stand in elections

Cllr Peray Ahmet with her 10-month-old daughter, Saffy 

Cllr Peray Ahmet with her 10-month-old daughter, Saffy - Credit: Cllr Peray Ahmet

I was elected as a Haringey Councillor in 2014 and was subsequently re-elected in 2018.

Being a councillor takes time and effort and if you hold an extra position, such as a committee chair, then even more so. Add to that the many hours needed for leafleting and campaigning for the political party you belong to - in my case the Labour Party - then the truth is you are rarely at home.

Last year in May I became a mum for the first time. We were a couple of months into the lockdown and all that came with it. The main issue for me being the inability to see friends and family. The plus points were that I got to spend the year focused on my baby, and I got to attend council meetings virtually from home.

Of the current Labour councillors,  I am the only woman with a child under the age of five. A few of my male colleagues have young children, but perhaps significantly, I am the only woman.

Working remotely under the new Covid rules has enabled my participation as a new mum and councillor, but all this is about to change and the government has passed legislation which means that formal council meetings will once again need to be in person.

Access issues and promoting inclusivity clearly not very high on their list of priorities.

With all of this in mind, we really do need to look at how we can encourage women with young families to stand for election as councillors.

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For many women in Haringey their race, class and gender identities already means they are facing many barriers. If we add to this juggling a young family and work, then the number of women coming forward diminishes further.

Local elections are coming up next year. As councillors we make political decisions that impact on the lives of families in Haringey.

It would be great to see those who experience these services first hand being involved in making the decisions about them. My interest in the early year’s provision we provide in Haringey has most certainly amplified this past year.

The personal is always political. Structural change is clearly needed, but collective voices are more effective at achieving that change then a single one.

  • Cllr Peray Ahmet is a Labour Haringey councillor for Noel Park.