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OBV launch women’s leadership scheme

Amina-Ishmael-Womens-ShadowThe next generation of local government leaders gathered in Westminster yesterday to take part in the latest Operation Black Vote leadership programme

Dozens of Black women from across Britain are being paired with senior councillors to give them an insight into the workings of town halls, which spend £60 billion of public money each year but tend to be dominated by older white males.

Speakers at the launch included government minister Dawn Butler, who offered some practical advice to the shadowees, saying they should make time to understanding the mechanics of politics. ‘We have to sus the system’, she said.

60 women were picked to take part from over 400 applicants, and will get a chance to see the inner workings of town halls.

Dawn Butler

Dawn Butler MP at the shadowing scheme launch

Amina Ismail, 35, (pictured above) who graduated from last years’ scheme, having shadowed Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley for six months, told the new intake: ‘It’s provided me with skills and it’s been an amazing journey.

‘The road ahead looks like a mountain but I know I have a great support mechanism in the OBV team. One thing I realise now is that before going on this scheme I didn’t give myself enough credit. That’s changed now.’

The shadowing scheme is a partnership between OBV and the government’s Equalities Office. The cross-party initiative, which was recommended by the BAME Women Councillor’s Taskforce, aims to tackle the under-representation of Black women in council chambers.

According to official figures, out of 20,000 councillors around 149 are BME women, representing less than 1 percent of councillors nationally.

Visit OBV’s Councillors Shadowing Scheme website pages here

Tara Ram, 38, a social housing manager from Peckham in south London, is one of the 60 new shadowees.

She said: ‘This scheme gives an opportunity to people like me who don’t have access to the political arena, to get involved and try to make a change to the community.’

Organisers say that participants gain the confidence to stand as candidates, and help to make local politics more relevant and representative of the community, which leads to better decision-making.

Communities minister Maria Eagle commented: ‘Black and Asian women are under-represented in local government. The first step towards addressing this is to engage and interest more women in running for these roles.’

Francine Fernandes, head of Shadowing Schemes at OBV, added: ‘Wasting so much talent is not an option. Our communities, our institutions and wider society greatly benefit from utilising the deluge of BME talent within the political arena.

‘The outcome of these women taking their place in local governance will without doubt, transform their locality and greatly enhance our democracy.’

By Lester Holloway

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2 Responses

  1. Great idea, Please send me information about when the next scheme stars.

  2. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you for your interest, you can add your details directly to the OBV database by visiting the following link:

    http://www.obv.org.uk/index.php?option=com_philaform&form_id=1&Itemid=1

    You’ll be amongst the first to know once any new scheme opens, you will automatically receive information about any new scheme and how to apply.

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