After almost four months of research at the Forum’s office it was time for me to leave my desk to meet people all around London! I could not imagine a better start then on the morning of Friday March 7th, in the Churchill Gardens Primary Academy. There I had the privilege to meet, have a coffee and chat with a group of inspiring women.
Maybe a morning coffee sounds like an ordinary experience but actually, spending time with these women is much more than that. I have never been fan of superheroes because in my opinion they’re clearly a product of the imagination. After meeting these women I changed my mind; now I know, superheroes do really exist and they look like a mother with the talent, with the grace and the balance of a juggler. Because you need juggling skills to look after four children, work full time and simultaneously study at the University.
So, I had coffee with 35 super-heroines (that’s the number of women taking part to the meeting) and I was really anxious because I know how precious time is for these everyday-fighters.
The Churchill Gardens Primary Academy is the School that their children attend and it is placed in the southern side of Westminster, in the middle of Churchill Ward. As many other wards in London, Churchill Ward has a really interesting profile from a demographic and electoral point of view. According to the Census 2011 there are around 10,000 residents and 45% of them where born abroad; 12% come from the European Union, 8% from Africa, 15% from Middle East and Asia. The percentages get even more interesting if we glance at the citizenship of the residents in Churchill: in 2011, 68.5% of them hold a British passport and 13% an EU one.
But the biggest surprise for me was to discover the level of civic awareness and the participation these women have: more than 70% of them are in the Electoral Register and most of them who arrived in UK before 2010 took part in all the polls. Why? Because Rūta, Julie, Maria, Tastema, Fatimah, Aisha and many others are concerned about providing adequate housing and education to their children, are eager to see them grow up in a safe neighbourhood, with green spaces and activities useful to develop their capacities and skills.
The concerns of my super-heroines are similar to those of every woman and man who works, studies, raises children and provides an inestimable contribution to UK society. The minimum that this society can do, to pay back these contributions, is to provide best quality public services. By exercising their right to vote, not only do they have “a say” in local issues but they also “legitimise” their demand for these public services. Moreover, they give voice to other “superheroes” that pay their taxes, have the same concerns but who don’t have the right to vote.
This is the reason why most of these super-heroines gathered in that room on Friday morning knew how to register, how to vote and the relevance of postal voting…
What about you? Do you know how to vote? It’s ok if you don’t (maybe you don’t know yet that you are a superhero too!) check out About My Vote website or check my next post on the Forum’s blog.