Posted: Wednesday 8th March 2017
Be bold for change is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day 2017, and is a message that deeply resonates with me. If I hadn’t been bold back in November 2012 and put myself out there with the vision of making a difference, I wouldn’t be here as your Police and Crime Commissioner today. That’s why this year I am joining the international campaign to call on local people and our wider communities to help create a more inclusive, gender equal world.
As one of seven female Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales, I am familiar with the challenges associated with inclusivity and equality. It’s one of the reasons I ran for the role of PCC, to offer local people something different, someone different to the senior elected officials we are all so accustomed to. Over four years into the role, I am delighted that I was bold enough to put myself forward and am thankful every day for the insight and opportunity this role gives me.
I feel incredibly privileged to have been given the chance to work alongside some great women across Avon and Somerset - women who are working hard to bring greater equality to public life. Improving representation and equality is part of the idea behind a new and exciting scheme that I have recently launched, with the aim of encouraging a greater diversity of candidates for directly elected roles. Now in my second term as PCC, I am determined that I am going to do something about this.
In the 2016 PCC election, just 28 of the 180 candidates seeking election were female and the number of BME candidates had decreased from 21.1% in 2012 to 6.7%. That is not good enough and means that huge swathes of our communities are not being represented in terms of the governance of policing and crime. That’s why I’m offering local people the opportunity to shadow me, so you can get an insight into the role of a publicly elected Police and Crime Commissioner.
People should not be deterred from standing for elected roles because of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. If you love where you live and strive to represent the views of your local community, I believe this is all you need to make a difference. It is these building blocks, which in my opinion, underpin our future leaders who can influence the change needed to better our communities.
The scheme is open to all but I particularly welcome interest from under-represented groups – women, BME, LGBT and disabled people – so that we may see a greater representation and greater involvement from the Avon and Somerset community. If you’re interested in being bold, getting involved and making a difference I would encourage you to find out more about my new scheme by visiting my website – www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk.
Before I finish, I just wanted to mention that I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would appear on a local publication’s ‘Most Inspirational Women’s’ list and this is something I feel completely humbled by. More importantly are the other inspirational women on that list who I would like to take a moment to credit for their passion, dedication and perseverance to their individual causes. Without these women fighting for change, following their beliefs and inspiring others the world would be a very dull and boring place.
So in the face of all of this, my advice to any woman, and something which I remind myself of on a daily basis, is whether considering standing for PCC, going for promotion or trying something completely outside of your comfort zone – is to go for it! #Beboldforchange