Melanie Howard

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Melanie standing for election


Former Walthamstow Hall Head Girl, Melanie Howard (1967-74) is standing as a Women’s Equality Party candidate for the Greater London Assembly elections in May 2016.

Melanie says: 

‘I am thrilled and honoured to be in a position to apply the leadership skills and commitment to women’s advancement that were first nurtured in my years at Walthamstow Hall all that time ago. It is a very exciting time for the Women’s Equality Party which was formed a year ago by Sandy Toksvig and Catherine Mayer and now has some 50,000 members across the country. We are putting up a mayoral candidate and a party list for London as well as candidates for the Scottish and Welsh assemblies on 5th May. The master stroke of becoming a party rather than being another pressure group is to force the main political parties to take the issue of women’s equality seriously. Progress has been so slow in so many areas after 40 years of the Equal Pay Act that the party is determined to work to accelerate transformation and change for women across the social spectrum and make life better for everyone. Amazingly, because of the proportional representation system, if we get just 5% of the vote in London we will have a representative on the GLA holding the mayor to account on behalf of women in the capital. It is really worth going for and would be a powerful reminder to politicians of all parties about what a vital issue this is.

Looking back I realise that it was in those hectic and fun years at school when the seeds of these long term themes in my life were sown.  Beyond my life as  an employee and mother they were further developed through becoming an entrepreneur and setting up on-line social and consumer trends consultancy the Future Foundation; and then by specialising in research and forecasting for the future of women. In 1997 I co-authored a report with think-tank Demos Tomorrow’s Women, that identified how women were becoming increasingly divided by uneven social and economic progress and that we need to make sure that women of all classes and ethnicities can progress together. Inspired by that work, I then studied for an MSc in Gender, Society and Culture at Birkbeck – becoming an academically qualified feminist at least! After several more reports and many opportunities to promote the careers of women in my own business and by mentoring others, including as a Visiting Business Fellow at the Royal College of Art’s Innovation department – I am relishing the opportunity to learn how to turn my business experience and knowledge into policies and effective action. I am delighted and proud to have this chance to enter the political arena for something I really believe in at this stage of my life as I am about to turn 60. 

Women’s Equality Party is a non-partisan party (which means we don’t mind if you belong to another party too) and are only focusing on areas that we believe we can make a real difference for women, but in ways that will make life better for everyone. These include equal pay; equal representation; ending violence towards women and representation of women in the media amongst others.  There are three areas that I am focussing on in my campaign - flexible working and job shares to facilitate work-life balance and equal caring; campaigning for the rights of older women to work and supporting them in setting up enterprises of their own and also, as a Trustee of Women in Sport – helping women and girls in London to participate in health enhancing sport and fitness activities on a regular basis.'

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