Women remain woefully under represented in many industries, none more so than British politics. Specifically local politics.

As a young woman, running for election in Mile End, Colchester, this has become abundantly clear.

Moreover, as a mother with a young daughter and son, I don’t want my daughter to be under represented, whilst her brother is arguably over represented.

If we look nationally momentarily, the 2015 General Election marked a historic moment for women in politics.

An unprecedented 191 women MPs were elected to the House of Commons, an increase of 48 from the 2010 General Election.

Yet the stats still make depressing reading. Women makeup more than half the population, but less than a third of MPs.

At the current rate of change, a child born today will collect her pension, before she has an equal say in the government of her country. That is madness.

Locally, the number of women councillors isn’t any better.

In Colchester, out of 51 councillors, only 14 are women or 27 per cent. Over two thirds are men. So why is this?

It is likely to be a combination of issues. Sexism and abuse (particularly online), perceived lack of flexibility or parent friendly hours and disengagement due to national issues such as Brexit, are all likely contenders.

Personally, I don’t believe in All Women Shortlists (AWS), as some of the larger political parties have done, such as Labour.

That is equally discriminating towards men.

Diverse parties will appeal to larger swathes of the local population, as well as bringing different and fresh perspectives on local issues.

However, this doesn’t mean we can’t learn from national initiatives and adapt locally.

For example, the Conservatives’ Women2Win initiative, which aims to elect more women to Parliament, is very positive. I’d love to see a local version.

Other ideas include gender quotas, which are being considered and in use in a number of political parties and private companies.

If well designed and properly implemented, they are an effective and rapid way of ensuring increases in women’s representation.

That said, quotas are controversial and unpopular with voters.

Like the company I work for, I’d also encourage political parties to publish data on the diversity of their candidates.

It brings the issues sharply and publicly into focus with swift action often made. Personally I believe nothing should ever come above merit, regardless of your gender and we mustn’t lose sight of that.

There is no silver bullet for women’s under representation in politics, but more women stepping forward would make a big change.

As human beings we probably need to be less combative when it comes to debating local services and call out online abuse, often conducted by anonymous trolls. This will foster a more constructive discourse.

I’m proud to be part of the only party that has had two women prime ministers, but this cannot be a one off.

I urge more women to be involved in their communities and become a councillor.

There is a serious political gender gap that must be closed.

With your help, we can make that change. To find out more, please get in touch with me or your local councillor.

  • Other candidates in the Colchester Council elections on May for the Mile End ward are Phil Coleman (Liberal Democrats), Amanda Kirke (Green) and Sarah Ryder (Labour).

READ MORE: Elections May 2019: Full list of candidates