Philosophy to Parliament – How Eastleigh student got a seat in the Commons on International Women’s Day

A sixth form student from Hampshire was selected to sit in the House of Commons for International Women’s Day.

17-year-old Nicola Ezekude, a student at Barton Peveril Sixth Form College in Eastleigh was invited to attend the Women and Equalities Select Committee meeting by MP for Eastleigh, Mims Davies.

The first year student studying A Levels in English Literature, Philosophy, Biology, and Psychology joined nine other sixth formers from across the UK for the unique opportunity.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Women and Equalities Select Committee invited young women to swap places with them, putting them on the committee and the MPs on the witness table in a real meeting for #TakeoverTuesday.

The sixth formers were given the chance to ask the panel questions about life in politics, equality, and the things that matter most to them. The official theme for this year’s event was ‘Make it Happen’ with a key focus on making a ‘Pledge for Parity.’

As part of the schedule of events for International Women’s Day, the formal parliamentary proceeding was broadcast live and Nicola’s question to the panel was: ‘Companies with more than 250 employees are expected to publish information on the pay gap. Why can’t we extend this to companies with less than 250 employees?’

Other topics discussed in the debate included mental health, violence against women and girls, female refugees and pregnancy and maternity.

Speaking live at the event, Nicola said: “It’s fair to say I have never been so excited to attend something in my 17 years of existence! Our opinions and questions were taken very seriously by the panel and it’s refreshing to hear how they are planning to improve the society that we live in. I believe that together with MPs, celebrities, the public and young people we can change unconscious and conscious bias about women, and I’m so happy to have been given this opportunity to get my voice heard.”

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Nicola, who lives in Eastleigh was unanimously voted by her teachers to attend the event for her talented academic profile and relentless campaigning with the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee within college.

Principal of Barton Peveril Sixth Form College Jonathan Prest said: “Today marks an amazing achievement for Nicola to be proud of. She has thrown herself into college life and we are delighted that she was invited to sit within Parliament. Her energy and enthusiasm to contribute to the community and her attitude to approaching new things is underpinned by her academic accolades. Nicola demonstrates that you can create opportunities yourself, and she has a passionate belief that all students and their views and voices are fairly represented.”

As well as a presence in parliament, Nicola has also just received four Principal’s Commendations within college for her quality of work.

They are:

Outstanding Work in English Literature – for her excellent work ethic and immaculate research

Outstanding Work in Philosophy – for her engagement in class, understanding and enthusiasm

Outstanding Contribution to Biology – for her extended development within the subject

Student Ambassador for the College – for her energy and passion for equality within the Social Equality Union.

Following today’s event, Nicola will share her experience with other students within the college, so that they can enhance their A Level studies.