• Mariam Gevorkian

From Law Breakers to Law Makers

Updated: Nov 26, 2018

Westminister hosted a conference on the 21st of November in celebration of 100 years since women got the vote in the U.K, The conference involved a panel discussion with influential women who have campaigned to change law and policy. The following article serves as a summary of the topics discussed by the influential women who formed the panel.

Anne Jenkin: co-founder of Women2Win

Jenkin is a Conservative member of the house of lords, a trustee of Unicef, Vice Chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Food Waste, co-chair of the APSRG (Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group) and is Trustee of Feeding Britain, a charity set up to help people in poverty. Anne co-founded Women2Win with Theresa May MP in 2005, the programme has been effectively instrumental towards heading the campaign for greater female representation in Parliament. Through her involvement in various organisations, she voiced her thoughts on how to advance towards giving women a voice to be heard.

She claimed that legislation isn't the only tool and that detailed scrutiny needs to be carried out on women representation in Parliament, instead of focussing solely on introduction legislations with involve women. She stressed on the issue she was aiming to tackle, of men making laws which women instead of women being in Parliament in the first place to make these laws.

Seyi Akiwowo: 'recovering politician', CEO & founder of Glitch

At 23 Seyi was elected as a Councillor in East London, making her the youngest black female in Parliament at the time. Her many achievements have been captured in books such as Slay in Your Own Lane and Misogynation. Seyi is also Amnesty International’s 2018 Human Rights Defender and is part of the #ToxicTwitter campaign to end online abuse against women. In 2017 Seyi became the Founder and Executive Director of Glitch, a growing not-for-profit advocacy, campaigning and training organisation that aims to end online abuse.

Yet there is more to her story! She became involved in politics when she gained the role of engaging the youth with the European Union. Whilst being part of the European Youth Forum, she began to attract a lot of attention on her media platform especially after she gave a speech that became viral. At a European Youth Event during a discussion on the refugee crisis Seyi took initiative and responded to the French Nationale who were being rude and insensitive towards immigrants and refugees. Her courageous move received mixed responses online, with some celebrating her speech and others lashing out death threats towards her. The level of discrimination and offence she was experiencing affecting her mental wellbeing as she was being harrased on media and also online.

It unfortunately led to her stepping down from standing in public office as she did not want to experience further death threats. She explains this is why it says 'recovering politician' in her Twitter bio. Her political experience indeed differs from most, being that young and dealing with death threats is enough to make anyone question their career choice.

Seyi's company Glitch is essentially inspired by her own experiences. "We want to see an increase in digital citizenship across all online users and to instil these beliefs: that our online community is as real as our offline one and that we should all be working together to make it a better place."

Gina Martin

Gina experienced upskirting at a music festival in July 2017. She went straight to the police but was informed that it was not a crime and that no offences were committed against her. Gina spoke of immediately recognising that it was time for her to put her foot down and take matters further. After beginning a petition her issue began getting a lot of attention online. Her attempt to make upskirting a criminal offence came into the hands of MP Wera Hobhouse, who bought forward the proposal to a private members bill, which the Government agreed to back. During the conference Gina revealed that by 2019 a bill will be introduced which will criminalise 'upskirting'.