Empowered and mobilised through her extensive work in Scottish communities and organisations, Lauren Bennie sees the full potential of women to take up space, and make real positive change for all a reality. Lauren addresses us all as members of the #ScotWomenStand campaign and movement, with encouraging and supportive words.
We need more EVERYONE in politics. We need elected members who have lived experiences like knowing what it means to rent homes on insecure tenancy agreements for decades while saving for a home deposit, or those of us who have been made redundant and had to return to the job centre week in week out to face a different work coach on every occasion, or those of us who understand the pressures of travelling to work on delayed trains and infrequent rural bus services to be faced by an unforgiving employer. Very often it is our experienced care-givers and our home-based family project managers who live closest to the everyday politics, and are best placed to represent us at every tier of our country’s government - from the school PTA, to the village’s Community Council, to a city’s Area Partnership and local authority, or the chambers of our Scottish and UK Parliaments.
We especially need more women in politics. #ScotWomenStand together.
We support one another, we work across party divides. In my Community Council we work on consensus and if we don’t get that, we move to respectful compromise. We don’t need to be bogged down by overtly bureaucratic and archaic voting systems or secret ballots when we can listen to one another and find our own ways forward in the interest of the communities we serve.
#ScotWomenStand up for our rights to be recognised and equal.
I’m a Girlguiding volunteer working with girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 18. As young women, our focus is often steeped in compassion, with care and enveloped in a fairness for all. Every week I see the power of girl-led campaigning and community action. From addressing period poverty in our local village, meeting volunteers from Scottish Women’s Aid or challenging the idea of “women’s jobs” by meeting female vets, entrepreneurs and formula 4 racing drivers, political discourse will always be more vibrant and all-encompassing when we engage with it through our own diverse lived experiences in Scotland.
#ScotWomenStand in line to file important paperwork!
An early step in all of our political journeys is to register to vote. This isn’t just about being able to mark your ballot paper. Being on the electoral register could be your first step towards elected office. To become a Community Council (the most local form of representation), you, your proposer and seconder must all be on the electoral register. The Parliament Project helps you to #GetReadyToStand and part of that journey is being ready at a moment’s notice for a by-, general or even snap election! So get yourself on the electoral register pronto. That’s an easy first step.
Why I want to be a #ScotWomenStand / Hopes for my political career.
I knew I wanted to explore how to become more politically engaged long before I attended a Parliament Project workshop in Edinburgh in 2017. I’ve always had the itch to speak up in meetings to represent those with quieter voices, to share an alternative view or play devil’s advocate when a discussion was overtly one-sided. I was often labelled opinionated, feisty, a busy-body…all the usual adjectives used to devalue women. I used them as positive reflection and my own personal power up.
I was the first student (and female) to Chair the Student Representative Council at Dundee Uni, after graduation I went on to work in Westminster as a civil servant and followed that up with a stint working with the national body for local government in England & Wales. When I moved to Glasgow, after attending a couple of community councils I put myself forward for election and have worked my way up over the last few years to become the Chairperson. I’m the third female in succession as Chairperson of my community council. It is a well-known fact that there are more women in these community-led volunteering roles than men. And yet, we are few in numbers in elected capacities, held back by numerous barriers which our male-counterparts are privileged enough not to face. We must not forget that we are phenomenal multi-taskers in our personal, professional and community lives. A perfect quality for future elected members.
What I didn’t know back in December 2017 at the close of the Edinburgh workshop was how the Parliament Project would accelerate the pace of my political journey. As a member of their 2018 Peer Circle Cohort, the team would go on to help me articulate my strengths, commit to my personal pledges, push me towards completing weekly goals and supported my political ambitions by helping me map out my political pathway towards becoming an approved parliamentary candidate for my party. This journey took less than six months.
I love helping people. I fill my month running Guide and Ranger unit meetings, chairing my local Community Council, running several community-based social media channels, volunteering at Parliament Project events and working for a member-led organisation in a professional capacity. My hopes for my political career is simply an extension of this. To help more people in my community have a voice, to act with integrity and strip away all the negative, defensive and unnecessary political posturing I witness day in and day out locally and nationally. If we want to get anything meaningful done, we need to listen to one another, we need to use our lived experiences to work together through consensus and respectful compromise. And…we need more wummin in every tier of Scottish politics!
If I was brave enough I’d keep the Parliament Project’s mantra close to my heart and get, A women’s place is in… parliament, politics, power tattooed across my chest. The Scot in me wants to be a tad more crude in my encouragement of #ScotWomenStand... A woman’s place is wherever the f*** she wants it to be. I’ll see you there.