Diana Wallis
Diana Wallis MEP

Political Development

Party Affiliation

Profession/ Current priorities

Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments




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[ European Commission, DG V ]

© April 2001

European Database: Women in Decision-Making

Diana Wallis MEP

Political Development

1. What made you decide to go into politics?
I always found the idea of Europe very motivating and at the time that I wanted to be more active the Social Democratic Party had a similar perspective.

2. Do / Did you have a role model?
No, not at the beginning, but later I felt that Mary Robinson, who is also a lawyer with an international approach was someone I admired, and might emulate.

3. Is there a tradition of political involvement / policy making in your family?
There was a political tradition in my family to some extent as my mother was a local councillor. Although this was before I was born, there was a political awareness in the house - posters were in the window at election time for example.

4. Were you involved in political grassroots activities before your involvement in party politics? E.g. in a citizen's rights, parents or other initiative? If so, in which function, in which institution and when did your political career begin? What were the most important experiences you had? What made you decide to move from grassroots to party politics?
No, not at all.

5. Were there disruptions in your political career path? If so, what were they?
No, but as a member of a third party in a largely two party country, it was a lengthy process. Though I had stood unsuccessfully as an MP, I started my political career as a councillor for the East Riding on Humberside County Council, when the prospective candidate died suddenly.

6. Were there disruptions in your biography that have had an impact on your political career?
A serious illness soon after my marriage, meant that I could not have children and that had the effect of clearing the path for a political career.

7. How and why did your objectives change during your political career?
They have not changed - I always aimed at becoming an MEP.

Party Affiliation

1. What was your motivation to join a political party?
Because I was very committed to Europe and the Social Democratic Party.

2. Which party do you belong to? Since when?
The Social Democratic Party which became the Liberal Democrats. I joined in 1986.

3. Does your party have en equal opportunities regulation?
Not specifically although it adopted a 'zipping' arrangement as a one-off rule for the last European election to ensure a greater number of women as candidates.

4. Which function/office did you hold in your party at the beginning? How long after your joining the party was that? How did you get into running for office?
Very early on I was a local Branch Secretary, before becoming a Councillor and deputy Chair of the regional party.

5. Did you have mentors within your party?
No.

6. Did you ever change party affiliation?
No.

Profession/ Current priorities

1. How does your profession relate to your political work?
Very strongly. Before becoming an MEP, I worked as a European commercial lawyer. My main committee work in Brussels is the legal affairs and internal relations committee.

2. What kind of vocational training, degrees or other professional qualification do you have?
I qualified as a solicitor and have a law degree.

3. In what kind of jobs did you work?
I worked as a solicitor in commercial law and as a part-time university lecturer in comparative law and business.

4. Do you link your professional and your political career?
Yes - as I have described.

5. In which areas do you see your special competencies?
In law and commercial trade.

6. Which are your political priorities?
Access to justice across Europe, and to make people love the European Union.

7. What are your main fields of action?
In Europe's northern dimension. I am the vice-chair of the EU delegation to Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments

1. Which objectives would you like to achieve through your political work?
Access to justice.

2. How and why did your objectives change during your political career?
There has always been the same thread.

3. Do equal opportunity strategies - in your opinion - have an impact in your country in the promotion of women in decision-making? (quota, EO legislation etc. please specify)
I detect very few signs of progress - in some ways we seem to be going backwards. I felt this very much when I moved north to Yorkshire.

4. Did you benefit from these strategies? How do you judge these strategies?
No, I don't think so.

5. Do you see direct or indirect discrimination in conventional policy making? What is it that keeps women from committing themselves to politics?
I think there is a lot of indirect discrimination. The image of politics is very male and aggressive.

6. What are the major obstacles that women need to overcome in order to participate in political decision-making?
Women need to have a great deal of personal confidence and determination. The political environment is so un-female.

7. What obstacles did you have to overcome in your own career?
The confidence gap.

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