Stories of #WomenForEurope

Sanchia Alasia

"I didn’t come from a political family. My interest was first sparked in my teens studying a political module at College. I was also given an invitation to meet the then new leader of the Labour party Tony Blair but didn’t understand the importance and turned the invitation down.

I was first elected to my local council in May 2010. When I was elected I was the youngest woman on the council and the first of three Black women to be elected. I defeated one of the far right, British National Party sitting councillors, who was also the London regional coordinator. The British National Party was one of division and we gave a message of hope.

The main challenge of being a politician at the moment is the continuing reduction in finances. The systems can be slow and bureaucratic. However there is great joy when you are able to help and make improvements for your residents.

I think women need to put themselves more forward for positions in politics and public life. We need to be at the decision making tables, so that our voices are heard and policy concerns are listened to and taken seriously. However I would urge ALL women and men to campaign for gender equality. The challenges that Europe faces in the years ahead, particularly with Brexit demand a representative cross section of society to be involved in what they want Europe to look like in the future.

My inspiration is my mum. She always told me the truth about being a woman of colour - you will have to work twice as hard to get recognised. However there is nothing you cannot do once you put your mind to it."

In the run-up to the launch of our campaign ’50:50 Women for Europe, Europe for Women’ on June 7, we are publishing stories of women in politics in Europe. Sanchia Alasia is a Councillor for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, she participated in EWL’s European political mentoring project during the European elections of 2014. You can follow her on Twitter.

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