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Influencial Women in Parliament

11 Mar 2021
Read: 8 min

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, Alice Pleasant of the Lansons Public Affairs team, highlights seven influential women making their mark in Parliament right now.

Alice pleasant 7289 min
Alice Pleasant
Public Affairs Team
Influential Women in Parliament (2021)

We reflect on the women who are campaigning, shaping and influencing policy to better reflect the need and rights of women, be that tackling sexism and the gender pay gap in finance, advocating for greater equity in women’s football or championing women’s health through open and honest discussions around maternity leave.

Claire Coutinho (Conservative)

Claire Coutinho was elected in 2019 to East Surrey, a Conservative strong-hold seat. After graduating Oxford University, she had worked for Merrill Lynch, wrote financial reports at the Centre for Social Justice, worked at the Housing and Finance Institute for two years before moving to KPMG and leading the national education programme.

In 2018, she then became a special advisor, working in the Treasury and Whips Office. Shortly after her election, Coutinho was promoted to the position of Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Treasury, an impressive step for a new MP. With financial expertise, credentials and past experience as a special adviser, it is no surprise she has risen up the ranks in Westminster.

Sarah Owen (Labour)

Elected to the safe seat of Luton North, Sarah Owen is Britain’s first female MP of Chinese descent and chair of Chinese for Labour. Born and raised in Hastings and Rye, Owen has wide experience in a number of different fields of public service. She was previously a political assistant to Brighton and Hove Council and worked for the National Health Service and the London Fire Brigade’s emergency planning department.

She is a member of GMB union and is their union representative on Labour's National Executive Committee. Well-connected and respected by across the house, she is a member of the influential Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee as well as the Health and Social Care Committee.

Dehenna Davison (Conservative)

One of the most successful of the new MPs at raising her profile, Dehenna Davison became the Bishop Auckland’s first ever Tory MP. A committed Conservative Party activist since studying British politics at Hull University, she once completed a work placement as a junior secretary to Jacob Rees-Mogg.

She is gaining influence within the Conservative Party as a member of the European Research Group, on the board of the Blue-Collar Conservatives, and a member of the parliamentary council of the centre-right think tank The Northern Policy Foundation. She has also been a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee since March 2020.

Fleur Anderson (Labour)

Fleur Anderson has had a fast rise since becoming an MP, currently serving as shadow Cabinet Secretary on the Labour frontbench. Her passion for local politics was preceded by a long successful career leading international environmental and poverty campaigns with Christian Aid, Water Aid and communities around the world.

However, living in Wandsworth for 25 years, she claims she became involved in local politics after becoming frustrated and angry about decisions being made in her community and standing to be a councillor in 2014. A member of the Education Select Committee, she has gained a reputation for being quietly competent among MPs.

Amy Callaghan (SNP)

Amy Callaghan made a splash upon her entry into politics after defeating Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire in 2019. Callaghan gained a politics degree from Strathclyde University in 2015, then went on to work in various roles at the Scottish Parliament, including as a parliamentary assistant to Aileen McLeod MSP, a senior caseworker and office manager to Rona Mackay MSP. After she was elected, she became SNP Spokesperson for Pensions and Intergenerational Fairness.

She has battled severe health issues over the past ten years which has inspired her defence of the NHS, which she credits with saving her life. Callaghan has worked on a collaborative project with Teenage Cancer Trust, CLIC Sergeant and Children with Cancer UK and produced a paper published in the British Medical Journal.

Charlotte Nichols (Labour)

Elected as MP for Warrington North in 2019, Charlotte Nichols worked for trade union GMB before she entered politics. During this time, she was involved in campaigning for workers rights against big companies such as ASDA and Amazon. She used her campaign to speak out for the NHS and workers’ rights. An MP that works hard for her constituency, she has stood up for workers during the pandemic and been commended for her contributions to debates on the impact of lockdown on mental health.

She was the Parliamentary Private Secretary for the Department of International Trade and then Northern Ireland. She has recently been promoted to become Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities. She marked International Women’s Day by stating that ‘my job is to help build a fairer more equal society to allow all women to reach their full potential’.

Siobhan Baillie (Conservative)

Siobhan Baillie won the key swing seat of Stroud from Labour in 2019 and has long been seen as a rising star in the Conservative Party. She was born in Yorkshire and she left school at 17 to work as a legal secretary, studying law in the evenings and weekends to qualify as a solicitor without going having to go to university – exemplifying the qualities the Conservatives want from an MP representing them.

After 17 years, she left this profession to pursue a career in politics, cutting her teeth in a run as a local councillor in Camden. She became the Head of Policy and Communications for national OnePlusOne, before standing down in 2018 to dedicate her career to parliamentary politics. A few months after her election, she became a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and was appointed to the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

First published in Political Capital - our weekly public affairs and polling news drop


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