Using my vote and hoping for real change

Generic election image.
Generic election image.

The voting centre was quiet when I placed my vote yesterday, but it was only 8.45am and most people were stuck in their daily commute to work. So I’m hoping the trend didn’t continue.

As a woman, I’m so passionate about using my vote. It was hard won by Emily Pankhurst and the Suffragettes over 100 years ago.

It’s hard to imagine a time when women were considered insignificant and unimportant when it came to politics.

Now, as women choose their political representatives we have as much an interest in the outcome as our fathers, husbands and brothers.

Ultimately though, aside from a good turnout, I’m hoping that promised policies come to fruition.

Like so many living in Derry I’m frustrated at the lack of a decent university and education opportunities. I already have my degree but I had to go to Liverpool to get it, and that’s not the life I want for my two young daughters. If they choose, I want the option of staying at home to study available to them.

Similarly, when it comes to career prospects, I cannot bear the idea of them boarding a plane to Australia or Canada to carve out a new life for themselves, simply because there isn’t a job for them here. Is it too much to ask that our children can expect a decent job when they graduate, and that their degree doesn’t cost the price of a house deposit either?

The lack of decent roads is also a constant headache. As is the lack of expansion at our local airport.

Then there’s the lack of affordable housing, the lack of affordable childcare; the lack of affordable nursing homes.

Consistently, all I can see is a ‘lack of’.

Eighteen years ago, I was 16 when the Good Friday Agreement was signed. I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember thinking that it was a turning point; that there could be a life in Northern Ireland beyond Orange and Green politics.

It signified hope and change.

Yet now as an adult with a husband, two kids, a house and two cars, I look back and realise that I was naive in my thinking.

Green and Orange politics will never change here.

But the ‘lack of’ can.

We need to encourage our leaders to see that daily life, and the policies that make it better, are what matters. Everyone needs to vote, but those elected need to start making real change too.