Jennifer Mein’s political career began in 2005 when she was first elected to represent the Preston South East Division on Lancashire County Council. She went on to serve as the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People before eventually being elected Leader of the Labour Group and then Leader of the Council in 2013. Prior to becoming a County Councillor she has lived in Lancashire for 30 years, working for BT for 16 years before moving to the Probation Service.
“…I want our daughters to see strong positive female role models in business, government and industry and to know that the qualities of a good Member of Parliament or Councillor are not inherently male qualities…”
Women leading in politics
As leader of the Council I hold ultimate responsibility for the strategic direction of the authority and together with my cabinet represent the views and interests of over a million residents in our County. I am incredibly honoured to have been elected leader of the Council.
I am pleased to say that I join a long and proud history of female Leaders of Lancashire County Council including Louise Ellman MP and Hazel Harding CBE before me and, in the days before we had an executive cabinet structure, the now Baroness Josie Farrington and Baroness Ruth Henig.
These women have helped to shape Lancashire to be the County it is today and we stand on their shoulders.
About the network
The Lancashire Young Women’s Network is designed to facilitate and promote an active and supportive environment for young women from across Lancashire who are interested in working to support their communities and becoming the local leaders of this, and the next, generation.
It may be of particular interest to those who would like to explore the potential of working in politics at a local or national level.
Our aim is to build a supportive environment for these young women, to share their experiences and to work alongside female politicians and established local community leaders to inspire confidence and access practical advice and support from local and national female leaders as well as helping to arrange and facilitate meaningful work experience and one-to-one mentoring programmes where useful.
We will be holding regular network meetings exploring different themes throughout the year to bring our young female leaders together as well as helping to facilitate social networking links. I hope that the network will grow and develop as the young women themselves help to determine its direction and future.
Why it is so important to close the gender gap
For me the debate, at least in this country, is no longer about if closing the gender gap is the right thing to do, it is about how we achieve the levels of parity we need. The Lancashire Young Women’s network is designed to be just one way of beginning to help tackle this systemic problem.
We must deal with the unacceptable levels of female-underrepresentation in our country, not just to promote a Parliament and network of councils that better represent the make-up of our communities locally, but because so many of the decisions we make and the services we provide affect women directly.
I want our daughters to see strong positive female role models in business, government and industry and to know that the qualities of a good Member of Parliament or Councillor are not inherently male qualities.
It is not just our daughters who will benefit from these changes, but our society as a whole and our policy making will be enriched by perspectives and experiences that have for too long been unjustly marginalised.
If we genuinely believe in equality of opportunity we must start with an acknowledgement that in this country opportunity remains stubbornly unequal, we cannot overcome this without accepting that treating people equally does not necessarily mean treating them the same.
We cannot make effective policy or commission and develop effective strategic services for our County when the voice and experience of 51% of our population is missing from the room…
In my experience it is much less about any potential inherent qualities that women bring to politics and more about the unique perspectives and experiences they offer that simply cannot continue to be excluded from our cabinets and board rooms.
How can women get involved?
Any young women aged 16-24 living in Lancashire can e-mail me at jennifer.Mein@Lancashire.gov.uk with the subject header ‘Young Women’s Network’ and I will add them to the network mailing list to receive an invitation to our meetings.