It is no secret that politics has a women problem. We may have a female Prime Minister but with 29% of Members of Parliament being women, equality has a fair way to go – and the Labour Party is still finding itself behind in this regard too. Much has been written about this, including by me in the last edition of this magazine, but it needs to be spoken about and challenged again and again. To end the Young Fabians’ executive year, and in time for party conference, I therefore wanted to put an issue I feel strongly about front and centre. So this edition of Anticipations is about looking at women in politics and in positions of power leading in their field.
In my very first editorial I set out that I wanted to ensure that every edition of Anticipations would be gender balanced. Two years down the line, and having received dozens of amazing articles and pitches, often making me think about different things in different ways, I’m pleased (and relieved) to say that this has been the case.
That said, what I have learnt is that achieving gender balance is not something that you can just wait for, but something that needs to be actively cultivated. For almost every edition, I have initially received fewer pitches from female writers than male ones. However, I have found that this is not because they do not want to write - when I have spoken to women about contributing they have enthusiastically come back with interesting and thoughtful ideas and articles. Creating a space for women to be heard is not simply enough – sometimes you have actively to ask or encourage. This isn’t a suggestion that fewer men should pitch by any means, but that we should ensure that more women’s voices are heard through asking and encouraging them to put themselves forward.
In this edition I am so thrilled that not only is the theme about the wonderful women we have in this country and around the world, but that it is also full of women’s voices as well as amazing men – so thank you all for putting yourself forward. The Young Fabians should always be a space that encourages and amplifies women’s voices, so please women do continue to pitch and to write over the years to come.
For the time being, the country is going through a period of turbulence. ‘Brexit means Brexit’ seems not only to be a catchphrase, but, indeed the plan. The Labour Party has fought two bitter leadership elections in the space of as many years. And across the Atlantic, the possibility of President Trump still looms large. In this atmosphere, the Young Fabians are needed more than ever to be a voice of careful thought and a space for open debate.
I have edited Anticipations for two years, the first in a general election year when the hope, and indeed received wisdom, was for a Labour-led Government, and in a second, following a crushing election defeat and in the midst of heated anguish about what the future direction of the party should be. But throughout the ups and the downs, I have always been impressed with the members who pitch, who write and who have so many fantastic ideas even in these difficult times. Over these two years I have gone from receiving a few as six pitches at the first request, to getting in 25 for this last edition - so thank you to all those who have written, who have read the magazine and to all those who have offered constructive guidance on how to make it better. I hope you all enjoy this edition too.