Interview with Frances Scott, from 50:50 Parliament Campaign.

50:50 Parliament; a campaign so simple, that I almost can’t see why some may not support it. Essentially, it is calling for MP’s to debate calling for a halfway gender divide, whilst not implementing the use of female candidate lists. They started following me on Twitter, around 2013.. I had a chat with Frances Scott, the founder of the campaign, back at the beginning of March. Due to some time constraints, some of the following information may be outdated:
Credit: Twitter.

Credit: Twitter.

Why did you decide to found 50:50 Parliament?
Because I think that it is crucial that our country values and draws upon the wealth of women’s skills and experience.
I took inspiration from Malala. I thought that if a young girl is brave enough to stand up for her right to education, in spite of all the dangers she faced, then surely we can call for equal representation. 
Women make a massive contribution to society with their paid and unpaid work. I want our Parliament to draw upon the widest possible pool of talent including the 32 million women that live and work in the UK. Women’s lives have changed radically over the last 100 years and it is essential that women are equally involved in running the country and planning the future. 
Was there any specific moment that sparked the idea?
Yes, when my daughter was elected to her school council, she was so excited. I congratulated her and asked if she was representing the class. She said “No not just me, there is always a boy and a girl from each class, because our experiences are different.” At that point I thought wouldn’t it be great if our Parliament and democracy was as equally gender balanced.
Women make a massive contribution to society with their paid and unpaid work.
Some years later, towards the end of 2013, there was a lot of discussion on the radio concerning politics. I heard two professors of politics from Oxford and Cambridge (both men!), saying that there was a need for more women at Westminster and better gender balance in Parliament. They were discussing solutions to the historic problem. It was at this point I felt compelled to do something.  
How did you set the campaign up?
 Very easily. My daughter showed me the No More Page 3 campaign. I thought that it was brilliant and decided to do the same. So I put up a petition on Change.org.The 50:50 Parliament Petition is a bit like a referendum on gender equality at Westminster – if people want it they it they have to say so and sign at (Click here to open URL.) 
This is what it says: 
“Dear Mr. Cameron and All Party Leaders,
 We need a more gender balanced House of Commons, around 50:50 men and women. Please collaborate and do something: debate and take action to make Parliament more gender balanced, like life.”
At around this time (2013) Vince Cable was Business Secretary and was asking companies to include more women on boards, because of the financial and economic benefits that diversity would bring. He was not prescribing the solutions but just asking that it be done. It is the same with the 50:50 Parliament petition, it has a clear aspiration, more women MPs and Peers at Westminster. It is the responsibility of Party Leaders and Parliament to address this problem, they have the knowledge and power to sort it out. 
Do you have any future events upcoming?
 
On 8 March, International Women’s Day, 50:50 Parliament were invited to Westminster to run a workshop for 70 sixth formers. The UN was calling for a #PledgeForParity! We had fantastic support from many MPs, see this little video:

 We used this opportunity to launch the 50:50 Parliament Ambassador Programme which aims to inspire interest in politics and encourage engagement – see this film : 

Anyone interested in joining the campaign as an Ambassador can apply here. (Click here to open.)
Prior to that, on 5 March to mark International Women’s Day we walked with Helen Pankhurst. It was mothers day and 50:50 Parliament campaigners were there loud and proud asking why the so-called Mother of Parliaments was still predominantly made up of men: {Moderator note: at time of posting, the video was taken down, and was not able to be displayed.} In July we plan to have a 50:50 Parliament Pankhurst Picnic to commemorate Emmeline Pankhurst birthday on 15 July. And on 1 Dec we will have another occasion in Parliament to mark the anniversary of Nancy Astor taking her seat, the first woman MP to do so in 1919. Watch this space.
How can we become member?
 The key thing is to sign and share the petition at (Click here to open.) and become part of the 50:50 Parliament movement.It also really helps fund the campaign and raise awareness if people buy our t-shirts or tote bags from the 50:50 Parliament Shop. (Click here also to open.) 
At around this time (2013) Vince Cable was Business Secretary and was asking companies to include more women on boards, because of the financial and economic benefits that diversity would bring. He was not prescribing the solutions but just asking that it be done.
We are recruiting 50:50 Ambassadors to inspire interest and political encourage participation on a cross-party basis, email: Ambassadors@5050Parliament.co.uk. Ultimately we want women to stand as MPs for whichever party appeals to them, see our website for information (Click here again to open!)
 
 Did you at all take inspiration from the women’s rights movement, in terms of history?
 Yes. I took inspiration from Malala. I thought that if a young girl is brave enough to stand up for her right to education, in spite of all the dangers she faced, then surely we can call for equal representation. The No More Page 3 campaign was an inspiration, as was the Everyday Sexism Project. And of course the Suffragists and Suffragettes were awesome in their struggle pushing for political equality. It is ironic that 150 years after the first Suffrage Petition on 1866 we are still having to campaign hard for women to have more seats in Parliament.
Thank you Claire for taking the time to talking to us!
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