#ELLGE2019: Labour candidate wins parental activism award

Olga FitzRoy campaigning. Pic: Olga Fitzroy

The prospective Labour Party candidate for the Croydon South constituency has been recognised for her campaigning work on behalf of working parents.

Olga FitzRoy, a first-time candidate in the upcoming General Election, has worked as a sound engineer on records by bands including Coldplay, the Foo Fighters, and Muse, as well as mixing the music for the 2012 Olympics and working on the soundtrack for Season 11 of Doctor Who.

Her #SelfieLeave campaign – backed by UK Music – urged the Government to update shared parental leave laws and expand them to include self-employed and freelancing parents. Her efforts won FitzRoy the title of ‘Campaigner of the Year’ at the Women in Music Awards held last week and run by magazine Music Week.

Olga Fitzroy with Kevin Brennan, Shadow Culture Minister and Tom Watson, former deputy leader of the Labour Party. Pic: Olga FitzRoy

In 2016, FitzRoy became the first woman to win the Music Producers Guild Engineer of the Year.

According to UK Music, 72 per cent of all workers in the music industry are self-employed. The industry would particularly benefit from this change but FitzRoy wants all self-employed workers to enjoy more parental benefits than they currently do, and to be able to share any burdens with their partner.

Self-employed mothers can currently claim Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks, but it cannot be split into separate blocks and there is no scheme available to self-employed fathers under the current system.

The #SelfieLeave campaign is already yielding change in this area, having been the catalyst of two private members’ bills to date.

FitzRoy, who was born in Berlin and schooled in Scotland before moving to England for university, asked the audience at the awards:

“Are you actively encouraging men in your companies to take shared parental leave, or work flexibly, or is it always the women who need to make changes when they have children? Because if you aren’t supporting men to parent, you’re making it harder for women.”

She told Eastlondonlines: “I’m honoured to accept this award from Tom Watson, who has been a big supporter of equality in the arts in his time as shadow culture secretary.”

“This recognition from my peers shows that I’m a committed campaigner who can achieve real results to make life better for others.”

In Croydon South she is challenging Conservative Chris Philp, who had a majority of 11,406 in the 2017 election.

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