POLITICS

Meet Preet Gill, UK's First Female Sikh MP Who Just Won From Edgbaston

Making history.

09/06/2017 10:13 AM IST | Updated 09/06/2017 1:33 PM IST
Facebook/Preet Gill 4 Edgbaston
Preet Kaur Gill, 44, was elected as the first female Sikh MP in the UK Parliament on Friday, 9 June, 2017.

A 44-year-old Sikh woman from Edgbaston, Preet Kaur Gill, created history on Friday after she was elected as MP in the UK general elections. Gill, a councillor representing the St Paul's Ward, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough, won over 24,000 votes, easily ahead of her Conservative rival Caroline Squire. She significantly widened the gap between the votes for the Labour party and their Conservative rivals in what is considered a bellwether seat.

Gill was elected as councillor for the Labour Party in December 2012. Even though a quarter of Sandwell's population comprises of Sikhs, she is the only female Sikh woman councillor out of 72 councillors. The party selected her as its Parliamentary candidate for the key marginal seat, replacing their outgoing MP Gisele Stuart.

"The fact that we don't have any Sikh MPs is quite shocking in a way, when you think about how long Sikhs have been here and their contribution," she has said earlier, "but that puts a bit of responsibility on the Sikh community as well, in terms of how they are pushing their young people to get involved and engaged in politics."

Gill, the daughter of a bus driver at the Harborne depot, was born and raised in Edgbaston. She credits her father for her passion for political life, who she said "worked tirelessly for the local community". "He encouraged me to 'make a difference' and to get the new generation to take on the mantle of serving their local community for a better Britain," she has said.

In addition to being a councillor, she is a cabinet member for public health and protection. She sits on the West Midlands police and crime panel. She works in Children's Services the north of the city with families of vulnerable children.

She has had huge support from UK's Sikh community who have also helped crowd-fund her election campaign. "I have known Preet and the family for over 30 years and she will be an amazing representative for those living in Edgbaston," Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), had said earlier.

Gill went to Lordswood Girls school and holds a first class honour's degree in sociology and social work from the University of East London, according to her public profile. She has worked in India for UNICEF and other non-governmental organisations, doing research on street children. She has worked in social care in West Midlands in England for over 20 years.

Gill has six other siblings. Her father and grandfather were both Labour party supporters.

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