Oxford University Labour Club’s Women’s Officer has expressed concerns in her Michaelmas report that women’s involvement in OULC is “negligible compared to that of men”.
Anna Coombes, Women’s Officer at OULC, stated in the Michaelmas OULC report that: “Despite the high level of involvement from new women members, attendance of existing women members has declined. And thus, the overall involvement of women in OULC still remains negligible compared to that of men.”
In addition, Coombes noted that they have found it “challenging to find enough women to fill all the mandated positions” in executive posts within OULC, and that they had “not succeeded in the aim of hosting more women speakers who are not party politicians”.
OULC hosted several events aimed at women during Michaelmas term, including women’s cocktails in 3rd week and a women’s brunch in 5th.
The OULC Women’s Caucus, the group dedicated to women within the wider Club, has 30 members on their Facebook group. The main Facebook group for Oxford University Labour Club has 990.
Magdalena Leao, taking up the position of Women’s Officer for OULC in Hilary, commented on behalf of OULC: “It is the case that OULC has been quite concerned with the level of women’s participation in the club. It is because of this concern that OULC has been working hard to promote the interests of women in the club.
“Unlike some of the other political societies in Oxford we have a women’s officer (which is a position elected a term in advance so she can work with any future co chairs) and an electoral system which ensures women are equally represented (due to a weighted caucus). We are also fortunate that despite the worries expressed in our end of term report we in fact managed to ensure that just under half of our exec positions were filled by women. It is also encouraging to note that over the next two terms we will have gender balanced co-chairs.”
Neither Oxford University Conservative Association nor Oxford University Liberal Democrats have a ‘Women’s Officer’ or similar position on their executive.
Other political groups in Oxford have also noted the need for women to become more involved in student politics.
During Michaelmas Term, OUCA invited Minister for Women Nicky Morgan to address women from across political groups on the topic of how to get more women involved in politics. This was attended by members of OULD, OULC and Oxford Women in Politics.
OUCA head, Maryam Ahmed (then Treasurer) chaired the event.
Ahmed commented: “I’m incredibly proud to be President-elect of such a diverse and progressive society as OUCA. We’ve been doing a lot of exciting work to engage women in politics this year, and as a woman of colour I’ve found my fellow members to be endlessly supportive and encouraging.
“Of course there’s a lack of women in politics, but the problem lies with society as a whole. Until the media stops fixating on Theresa May’s footwear rather than her policies, until toy shops stop peddling dolls for girls and Lego for boys, and until our society develops a healthy attitude towards women in all positions of power, women won’t have equal representation in government or any sphere of public life.”