I was out canvassing today on the final weekend of the local election campaign, and took the opportunity to visit the blue plaque put up recently in honour of one well-known former resident of Trumpington – Dame Millicent Fawcett.
The plaque on Brookside acknowledges this incredible woman and her fight for votes for women, on the centenary of some women getting the vote – but I never forget that not everyone gets to vote, even today.
I grew up in a place and at a time when none of the adult members of my family had a vote – Hong Kong when it was a colony – and even now their votes count for little now that it is a special administrative region of China. Perhaps that’s one reason why I value my own vote and have impressed on my daughters and all the young people I know how important it is to use their vote.
It’s not just about voting, it’s also about who you can vote for. In democracies it is important that we have a diverse group of elected representatives – not just women but people from different class, ethnic backgrounds and social groups, of different sexual orientation, with varying pasts and aspirations and ideals and interest, so that the discussions at councils and in parliaments and assemblies can reflect the glorious variety of the world and not just the views of a bunch of like-minded lucky people.
We need diversity so that people can bring a different perspective, one that is grounded in their life experience and valuable wherever it is heard. That’s why I’m standing, along with the other women candidates: we want to bring that perspective to Cambridge City Council.
And I hope that all women will consider standing for other things, because nobody is going to ask us to take over from the men – we have to stand up and fight for it just as we women candidates are doing this time around.