Well over 200 women turned out for the Fabian Women's Network in Westminster this evening, to mingle, chat, hear a few politicans and plot how they can change the world. In large and small ways. What was remarkable was not just that women turned out en masse for such an event, but the small details that became apparent. People turning up for their first Fabian/FWN event. Some people standing for council in their areas for the first time - and standing for Labour. People joining the Labour party and the Fabians - all during one of the worst times our politics has seen. One could almost start to feel the wall of resistence that was starting to form in defence of politics, and indeed a bigger sense that now was not the time to walk away; now was the time more than ever to come into politics and help change it for the better. In such a time we also see the Downing Street Project building a coalition of women to think about the brand of politics in a new way; not to react against politics, but for women to engage more strongly with it. It is almost counter cyclical - happening at a time of low public confidence. But it is another sign also that there is more to politics than expenses, and in dealing with the crisis and issues around expenses we must still defend politics and, when necesary, stand up and be counted.
Seema Malhotra is co-founder and Director of the Fabian Womens Network and a former National Chair of the Fabian Society. From May-Oct 2010 she was Political Advisor to Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP in the Leader of the Opposition's Office. She was the West Midlands Labour Party's regional policy coordinator and adviser to Regional Ministers Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP and Ian Austin MP. She is active in the Co-operative Party and Unite and speaks and writes in national media on gender issues, regional and national politics.
Seema is a freelance business and public services adviser and has over ten years experience with leading firms Accenture and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. She has worked with a range of government departments in the UK including Revenues and Customs, Ministry of Justice and the Home Office. She led the cross-Government programme Increasing Diversity in Public Appointments working with Whitehall, headhunters, business and community groups. She has also advised the video games industry on their child safety agenda.She is a former school governor and candidate for the London Assembly. In 2007 she was shortlisted for the Asian Women of Achievement awards.