Thoughts on National Women’s Conference
By Arielle Bennett (Stevenage CLP Women’s Forum Delegate )
One of the best aspects of Women’s Conference was the opportunity to get to know women from across the party and across the country. Without the media hype which often surrounds much of the National Conference, Women’s Conference felt like a place to connect more deeply with our socialist sisters, despite being on my own! Everyone was helping everyone else, whether it was insisting on grabbing someone else a drink from the bar, helping someone sort out their hair, or support dealing with accessibility issues. The atmosphere was one of positive determination to sort the world out.
It would have been good to have more explained about how the motions submitted would be used ahead of the conference(i.e. that they would either be submitted to NPF or taken forward to National Conference) as I don’t think there was much explanation of this at all before the morning of the conference. In the future I would also welcome a broader variety of motions which address more general issues rather than those “traditionally” associated with women such as childcare – I’d like to hear women’s voices shaping Labour Party policy on industrial strategy, innovation and technology or international situations, for example.
However, I am also very proud that the motion I voted for on Rights for Migrant Women will be put forward to National Conference. I voted for this based on the steer from the Women’s Forum – this was the highest voted for topic in the CLP section – and was glad to do so. The stories from migrant women were extremely moving and many people shared stories across the weekend which had some of us in tears.
The training provided was angled towards practical support and best practice sharing. Longer training sessions would be beneficial at future conferences, as the hour allotted for each one this time simply was not long enough to really dig into the topic and get detailed plans.
Similarly, I look forward to having a larger variety of fringes with better advertising, but I am optimistic that this is something which will develop over time for Women’s Conference.
Overall, Women’s Conference was an extremely positive experience with a different vibe to that of previous years events, which have felt more like a rally than a serious forum for women’s voices, and I am excited to see this approach continue and develop in the future.