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Being a Female Conservative Party Activist in 2020

I remember when I joined the party in 2017. Lots of my female friends voted conservative, however, I only knew one other party member that was female. I hadn’t been at university very long when a group of us decided to set the University of Liverpool Young Conservatives up properly and I was elected President. There was a lot of surprise that the first President of a Young Conservative society at the University of Liverpool was a woman. Much of that surprise actually came from the socialists, feminists, and Marxists that seemed to inhabit my student Guild.

Any young woman that has; taken up a position on their university conservative society committee, association committee, been part of any form of think tank group or just decided to air her opinion will know that sexist backlash is not far away. In all honesty, I’ve always had more sexist backlash and misogyny from the left than I have from in my own party, however that is not to say I’ve had my fair share from other conservatives.

Lefties of all manners were shocked, that a woman could betray her own kind and be a conservative, let alone take up a leadership position and voice these views. The shock at being a northern woman having the ability to have the confidence to air her opinions confuses many. I’m not the only female activist in this position, with many of my friends who are part LGBTQA+ and BAME communities receiving worse. The words ‘race traitor’ being thrown around like the left have some form of ownership over BAME women. The Labour Party sells themselves as the party for LGBTQA+, women, BAME, etc. but yet the minute a member of those communities says that they are supporting the Conservative Party they are subjected to insane amounts of racist, homophobic and misogynistic abuse. It’s no wonder that the Labour Party is yet to elect a female leader, and it really makes me wonder what is going on inside the Labour Party.

Of course all of the misogynistic backlash that is thrown in the direction of female Conservative Party activists, a portion of this does sadly come from within our own party. This portion comes a very small set of activists and party supporters that seem incapable to deal with young conservative women. Women have had the right to vote and stand in general elections since 1918, and at the last general election in 2019 220 MPs elected were women, making up 34% of the house and the highest number recorded. The Conservative Party has had two female leaders, yet this breed of activist and supporter still exists. Unable to debate women without making comments on how they dress, speak, how much make-up they wear, or their relationship status. With some not having the capability to debate women, some seem to be incapable of dealing with women in leadership positions with responsibility without being condescending, rude, disrespectful or nasty.

I have been asked on numerous occasions by conservative society presidents or chairman what they can do to increase female membership and engagement within their society. In all honesty I’m still trying to work that out for myself. With suggestions of female officers on committees, having socials just for female members, or just having at least one female committee member. I always say to the people that ask, cater for your target market and find the best way to increase engagement that fits your society.

If you ever see any female young conservatives receivingabuse of just general grief the best thing to do is call this out, whether it be online or in person. It doesn’t have to be done by starting a raging argument, but a polite message or conversation can go a long way. Young conservative women can combat this themselves, every time you receive any grief don’t say quiet, keep voicing your views and remain resilient.

We have come a long way and made fantastic progress, however there is still further progress to be made. The Conservative Party has shown that it is the party of hope, ambition and achievement, I hope every female young conservative remembers this when someone disrespects them.

Resilience and dedication is the way forward, and with this young conservative women can achieve so much.

Olivia Lever