Casting a vote for women in politics: POLLfest

Polly Checkland Harding

The People’s History Museum strikes a blow for women-led political activism – through Pecha Kucha, stand-up comedy and parody.

Manchester’s People’s History Museum is showing its support for Parliament Week by doing more than marking a ballot paper. POLLfest, a series of talks, debates, Pecha Kucha and even stand-up comedy, has been curated around Parliament Week’s theme for this year, women in politics. The activities on offer all seek to kick-start debate on the subject – a good thing, as debate is very much what we still need. While women make up approximately half of the population, for example, there are currently only 147 female MPs in the House of Commons (compared to their 503 male counterparts). It’s an imbalance that prompts the question as to why such a discrepancy continues – a conundrum that POLLfest’s Q&A with MP Lucy Powell (2pm-2.45pm Sat) may well explore. Powell was the first female Labour MP for Manchester and will be speaking to the museum’s director, Katy Archer, about being a woman in parliament today. The event is free, but advance booking is recommended.

Both funny and serious, go along to ensure there’s a majority vote

By contrast, the intriguingly named Pecha Kucha (6pm-8pm Sat) – a series of casual presentations each built around twenty slides, with every slide shown for twenty seconds – opens out the floor to Manchester’s constituents. Bringing politics to the people, Pecha Kucha is visually inventive and has a reputation for being quite comic. Extending this humorous approach is Sunday’s Comedy Showcase: there’s the open mic session Politics Show Off, where each hopeful gets seven minutes to canvas a laugh, along with an improvised performance from amusing troupe Do Not Adjust Your Stage. Closing out the weekend’s events is comedian Gráinne Maguire. We won’t see another general election until May 2015: in lieu of this Maguire recreates the best bits of election night with gentle parody and exaggeratedly complicated graphics. Both funny and serious, POLLfest’s range of events for Parliament Week offer a more active way to be counted in favour of women in politics. Go along to ensure there’s a majority vote.

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