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Young women and political participation - a #Notwestminster 208 Lightning talk by Dr Grainne McMahon


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Dr Grainne McMahon from the University of Huddersfield shared some of her learning from young women in Huddersfield about political participation. Find out more about #Notwestminster 2018 at

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Young women and political participation - a #Notwestminster 208 Lightning talk by Dr Grainne McMahon

  2. 2. Learning from (1) day with young women in University of Huddersfield; (2) ongoing project ■ Aim: explore barriers to young women’s political participation (particularly in formal politics) – What are barriers to young women’s political participation? – What would young women like to see (new approaches to gender-equal political participation)? – How might/ should/ could we create a ‘new politics’? ■ Young women’s social and political participation (activism)
  3. 3. Barriers to political participation ■ What? ‘Even by seeing someone that doesn’t look like you, it might make you feel you can’t do what they are doing.’ – Terminology, diversity, gender stereotypes, ‘not being taken seriously’ ■ Why? ‘The system in which we live allowed women to be looked down upon. [That] ideology carried on in most politicians minds.’ – Class, stigma, traditions, privilege, access ■ How? ‘If we go in, we have to be angry and fight, we doubt ourselves.’ – Generational factors, irrelevance, isolation ■ Acute awareness of gender and structural inequalities replicating and perpetuating (also: class, ethnicity, background)
  4. 4. New approaches to gender-equal political participation ■ What? Less adversarial system, less ‘tribal’ leadership, less Westminster-centric, more political engagement as ‘normal’ (and part of education), representative governments, ‘normal’ politicians, women role models ■ Why? Policies for everyone, better ideas, breaking down gender norms ■ Who? Media, public, educators, parents, us, you, everyone. ■ How? Political education, ‘pushing through’, action and not just words (‘deeds not words’), male support (in campaigns), move beyond identity politics, formal checks and balances (AWS)
  5. 5. ‘DEEDS NOTWORDS’: - Challenging normative discourses around women (Corbyn’s activism vs. May’s marriage) - Addressing political inertia (young people and young women) - Focusing (genuinely and proactively) on social justice and women’s issues - All-women representation - More women-only/ women- focused spaces - Self-organising, smaller movements, more movements, more conversations
  6. 6. ‘DEEDS NOTWORDS’: - Biographies of activism (‘grievance mobilization’) - Importance of anger and emotions (‘personal IS political’) - Protests of the dispossessed (Butler, 2013) – and intersectionality - ‘Altruistic’ movements