Path to parliament led by Inspirational women

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi

First published in

THE first Asian MPs in the House of Commons date from the 1890s – Liberal Dadabhai Naoroji and Conservative Sir Mancherjee Bhownagree.

The first women elected were Countess Constance Markievicz in 1918, who did not take her seat as a member of Sinn Fein, and Viscountess Nancy Astor in 1919.

It was only in 1987 that the first black woman MP, Labour’s Diane Abbott, made it to Westminster.

Today, eight of our 650 Commons representatives are women of Asian heritage: Rushanara Ali, Shabana Mahmood, Lisa Nandy, Susan ‘Chi’ Onwurah, Yasmin Qureshi, Valerie Vaz, and Seema Malhotra for Labour, along with lone Tory Priti Patel.

On nearby councils in boroughs with large South Asian populations, things are little better.

Manchester has four Asian women out of 96 councillors, including Nasrin Ali, who bid to be Labour candidate in Blackburn. Kirklees has just one – Naheed Arshad-Mather, who was shortlisted to succeed Jack Straw.

Bolton has two, including cabinet member Sufrana Bashir-Ismail.

Bradford City Council has six Asian women among 90 councillors but Naveeda Ikram has served as Lord Mayor. Leicester has just two out of 54 councillors, but both them are also directly-elected assistant Mayors of the city.

The most prominent Muslim female politician in the country is Baroness Sayeeda Warsi – a member of David Cameron’s Cabinet.

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