Courage calls

Women politicians from 86 countries gather in U.K. to discuss forming a ‘giant sisterhood’

Female MPs from around the world sit in the chamber of the House of Commons in London. (U.K. Parliament / Jessica Taylor)

Some 120 Women MPs from parliaments across 86 countries gathered in London this week to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage in the U.K. — and to consider a proposal to forge a “giant sisterhood” that would serve as a resource and support for all women in politics. Speaking before the giant gathering of international women politicians at the Houses of Parliament in London, British international development secretary and minister for women Penny Mordaunt told the crowd that more needed to be done to help women overcome systemic obstacles such as sexual harassment, intimidation, and the risk of “constantly being patronized” or having to fight just “to be heard.”

Such challenges, Mordaunt said, were far easier to navigate with the support of other women who had dealt with the same problems. To that end, she proposed, women parliamentarians across the globe should be given access to a “giant sisterhood WhatsApp group” to provide them with the connections and information they need to help them succeed in the face of opposition.

“The margin of success is in this room,” said Mordaunt. “Because courage calls to courage everywhere. Because without women’s rights, there are no human rights.”

A record number of women are currently serving in Britain’s parliament, but women still make up less than a third of all Britain’s MPs. Internationally, women make up just 24 percent of all elected parliamentarians in the world.

“More women in elected office means a greater voice speaking out on issues that affect women,” added British Prime Minister Theresa May in a speech made before the gathering on Wednesday. “It means a greater focus on preventing gender-based violence, on girls’ education, on childcare and on women’s health … But the benefits are also felt more widely. After all, if half the population is systematically excluded from politics then you’re also excluding half the talent.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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