In 2017 Danielle Rowley was elected as the first woman MP of Midlothian, and the youngest Labour MP in Parliament. To celebrate, she is hosting a Women’s Conference at Edinburgh College’s Midlothian Campus in Eskbank on 19 May 2018, which will broadly cover issues affecting women, as well as celebrating what has been achieved by the great women of Midlothian.
Danielle Rowley MP spoke with The Fountain about what inspired her to mark her time in her elected seat with this conference, what we can look forward to and what provisions are in place to ensure that all can go.
TF: You are marking a year as MP with a Women’s Conference in Eskbank in May, what inspired you to do that?
Well since I was elected, obviously being the first woman to represent Midlothian is quite a big thing and I knew that I wanted to do something. Throughout the year I have been working with a lot of different groups and time and time again it’s been shown that Government policy has been disproportionally affecting women and I’ve worked with my local Women’s Aid and Citizen’s Advice Bureau. There is a lot of women in Midlothian who aren’t really not managing to reach their full potential, who have been held back so I thought it was important to mark it for that reason but I also thought it was an opportunity to celebrate the fantastic women in Midlothian as well.
TF: With #MeToo and things such as 100 years of suffrage did you feel like there was a need for this type of event?
Yes, absolutely. So it’s a hundred years since some women got the vote, it’s important to mark that but to look at then what steps still need to be taken and what we still need to do to have an equal society.
TF: What can we expect from the event on 19th May? What kind of topics and issues will be on the agenda?
Well, I am really excited about it because I think there is something for everyone there. So with the workshops we have a workshop on pensions and older women’s issues, we have got a workshop about empowerment for younger women, and we have a parents workshop, and a really exciting panel on women in work. So there is something for everyone and it is going to be really exciting and again it will cover looking at what the barriers are, and what problems women face and how we overcome them but also again looking at the more positive things and celebrating them as well.
TF: And obviously with so many great folks to choose from picking for panels must have been difficult?
Yeah, it was and it has really highlighted all the amazing women that I know. But we have got quite a good mix of voices, we have got Lesley Laird, who is Scottish Shadow Secretary and she’s got a really interesting background in business and things as well, and we have Cat Boyd who is the activist who founded RISE, and there is a Trade Unionist so we have quite a range of different voices and not announced it yet, but we are hopefully going to have some creative and musical voices and that is really exciting.
TF: And what provisions are you putting in place to ensure that women are able to attend?
We thought it was really important that there were not any barriers for women attending this so we have free childcare on the day. We have got a fully qualified child practitioner coming along and they have got some parent’s groups as well that are coming so there will be free childcare all day. There is no cost to attend the event, it is right next to a train station, on a bus route, and it is really central to Midlothian and we have said to women that if there is anything else that anyone needs to be put in place then we will absolutely accommodate that.
The event on 19th May is free but ticketed and to register for tickets click here.