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Women in politics: We speak to women in Whitehall
Lynne Featherstone, Home Office minister
Lynne Featherstone is frank about what drew her into a political career.
“I’ve never been able to see injustice and unfairness and keep my mouth shut.” Perhaps it’s just as well then that this Lib Dem MP was handed the equalities brief when the Coalition government took over the reins last year.
Her portfolio is almost as unwieldy as her title; as Home Office minister for equalities and criminal information, Featherstone is responsible for issues as diverse as sexism, hate crime, domestic violence and, bizarrely, wheel-clamping.
She’s not embarrassed to admit that her journey in politics has been something of a baptism of fire. “Everything I’ve done in politics has been a real learning curve because in a relatively short space of time I’ve been a councillor, leader of opposition, member of London government, MP and now minister. But I think there’s no better way to learn than to be thrown in at the deep end.”
Featherstone believes that many young women are suffering from low self-esteem because they endlessly compare themselves with images of size zero models and airbrushed celebrities, and it’s something she wants to use her political clout to change.
Along with fellow MP Jo Swinson, Featherstone launched the Campaign for Body Confidence last year to try to tackle the ubiquitous images of beauty that women are presented with by the media, advertising and fashion industries.
“The world is full of really interesting shapes and sizes but they’re not represented and it’s making young women unhappy. [It’s not right that] young women are spending their lives feeling uncomfortable or worrying excessively because of this relentless pressure to look fabulous.”