Interview with Rt Hon Caroline Nokes
On the 27th of September 2022, WFD held a forum of women parliamentarians exploring "Women’s Representation in Parliaments: Prospects and Challenges.” The forum advocated for the establishment of a parliamentary working group or committee dedicated to equity and parity in Morocco. The event facilitated the sharing of the best international practices for the inclusion of women in parliamentary bodies, as well as knowledge about external representation mechanisms.
UK MP – Rt Hon Caroline Nokes – who is also the Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee in the UK Parliament was in attendance at the event. The MP shared her experience in advancing women’s issues through equalities committees. After the event, WFD caught up with the MP and asked her a few questions on women's political leadership.
WFD: What do you see are the main challenges for women trying to ascend to senior parliamentary leadership positions within the Moroccan Parliament and how does this compare to your experience in the UK Parliament?
Hon Caroline Nokes: I think the single biggest challenge [in Morocco] is the limit to a single term on the central list which means that they don’t get the opportunity to ascend to positions of leadership because they are only there for a relatively short time. It would be beneficial to those female MPs if they could serve 2 terms on the list reserved for women which would then give them additional experience and the chance of promotion.
WFD: Why is it important for strong and healthy democracies to encourage more women into leadership positions (including within committees)?
Hon Caroline Nokes: Decisions are always better when they are taken with diverse voices in the room. It’s absolutely crucial that women’s voices are included and committee systems like select committees are a very good way for women to be involved in scrutiny and making recommendations to government. The power of select committees are often underestimated and from my perspective they are a brilliant way to gain influence.
WFD: What benefits do Equalities Committees bring to parliaments and how can the Moroccan Parliament benefit from having something similar?
Hon Caroline Nokes: The Women and Equalities Select Committee scrutinises the work of the Government Equalities office and we get to consider every aspect of Government policy in detail determining our own programme and those areas which are of interest to us. The committee’s only been in existence in the UK parliament since 2015 so it’s only been 7 years and, in that time, we have done some significant work about [...] advancing the rights of women supporting women in Parliament both here [in the UK] and working with partners overseas, looking at the gendered impact on policies including around COVID and considering the impact of Government legislation on disabled people. There is a great deal more to do but I would encourage all parliaments to consider having this sort of committee.