Growing up I didn’t really care/know much about politics. All I knew was that my dad would watch a lot of news and Prime Ministers Questions, etc, and it looked really boring. People kept talking over each other yet no-one was really saying much of anything. What was it all about?
Fast forward to the age of 18 and I was able to vote for the first time. I knew straight away who I was voting for – the Liberal Democrats. I was about to start university and it was the year that tuition fees were increased to £3,000. The Lib Dems promised to change that. My education was everything to me.
Skip forward to the end of my degree. I’ve graduated with a First in Writing for the Media, I’m 22, living with my parents and working part-time in retail. Not what I had anticipated as a wide-eyed, 18-year-old Fresher. I’m more jaded and disillusioned, no longer trusting of party politics. What could politics do for me?
Having worked in further and higher education for the last six years, I’m aware of how young people have been screwed over by the government. There’s the removal of EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance to all you youngsters who missed out – I had £30 a week towards travel and course materials throughout my A Levels), cuts to student finance (bye-bye maintenance grant – I used to live off this and it meant I didn’t have to work to support my studies), plus tuition fees are three times what they were just a few years ago – and set to rise even higher. Good job on making education accessible for all!
Of course, my priorities have changed as I’ve grown older. Now I’m a working mum and I rely on the government funds that allow me to work part-time and spend as much time as possible with Jenson. In a few months’ time I’ll also come to rely on the financial contribution to childcare that we’ll receive for Jenson to attend nursery part-time. As a child I was entitled to free school meals, as I imagine Jenson will be too. Many families rely on this service to give their children a hot meal every day. Why are so many people hell-bent on taking away essential support for young families?
Young women have one of the lowest voter turnouts and it’s not hard to see why. For the longest time I thought politics didn’t matter to me because I didn’t understand it. But it’s all around us. It affects all of our day-to-day lives. In fact, I think this year (and Trump!) has shown just how involved women are becoming in politics. The hundreds of international Women’s Marches* had fantastic turnouts and made global news. Women of all ages were marching for what they believe in. Not all that long ago women died so that we could have a voice; so we could vote. Isn’t it time the government started catering to women’s issues? Isn’t it time we made them listen? Isn’t it time we actually turn up and vote?!
66% of registered voters voted in the last General Election. That means a third of people didn’t. And only 43% of 18-24 year olds voted – more than half didn’t vote! Plus the turnout gap between men and women is getting wider. Why?
Don’t feel like you know enough about the parties to make an informed decision? Take two minutes to complete this quiz. All you need to do is mark how strongly you agree with the manifesto points from the three main parties and it will show you who you align most strongly with.
To not vote because ‘politics doesn’t matter’ to you is ridiculous; I guarantee there’s at least one issue that affects you. Whether it’s the NHS, education, the living wage, Brexit… You care about something. This is your chance to make a difference. PLEASE VOTE.
*Abrams + Chronicle sent me a copy of Why I March and it inspired me to write a post on women and politics. It’s a truly beautiful publication and a welcome reminder that politics matters to everyone and women are becoming more engaged than ever.
Also pictured: Bad Girls Throughout History flexi journal.