5 questions with... Julie Ward
Julie Ward (S&D, UK) is a member of Parliament’s culture and education committee.
Julie Ward | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual
1. How would you describe your political/leadership style in three words?
Grassroots - I am an activist and a campaigner, so I work closely with NGOs and civil society, and try to ensure the voice of citizens - particularly those that are marginalised and vulnerable - is heard in Parliament.
Empathetic - I founded an artists’ collective that used theatre for personal and community transformation so I learned to stand in other people’s shoes. It is important to listen and learn, and not simply make grandiose speeches.
Fearless - I am not a career politician looking for the next step. I am forthright, for example taking on the Iranian foreign minister regarding his country’s appalling human rights record. I am also prepared to challenge and expose the racists, xenophobes, misogynists, and Brexiteers who stir up hate.
2. Is there anything you have personally achieved or done that would surprise people?
I didn’t go to university until I was 52, as I failed all my exams as a teenager, which meant I went to work in a factory. I ended up doing a Masters in education and international development as a mature student and I remain a passionate advocate of lifelong learning.
3. What one item would you save from your home in the event of fire?
A leather document case discovered after my grandfather died, which contained letters, newspaper clippings and documents. It detailed a family tragedy in western Australia in the 1920s when my grandfather’s brother accidentally blew up his wife and mother. My grandfather never talked about the incident. I made a visit to western Australia to unravel the mystery and found the unmarked grave of my great grandmother.
4. What do you do to relax and unwind?
I love to swim - indoors, outdoors, in rivers, lakes, the sea and swimming pools, in all weathers, all year round. I use the outdoor public pool opposite the Parliament in Strasbourg during plenary week and I recently had a dip in the frozen Baltic in Helsinki. I also love to dance, for example at the ILGA Equality Gala every year.
5. What is the most humbling thing you have experienced in your career?
Last summer I spent 12 days in Amazonia volunteering with a community arts project. I met with several indigenous tribes that are victims of state repression and corporate greed. I was given an Amazon name and spoke in the Brazilian Parliament giving testimonials. As a result, 30 Xikrin people are coming to press their case in the European Parliament in June.
Schools are central in the fight against child inactivity, writes Maxime Leblanc.
Cities are strongholds of sedentary behaviour and unhealthy lifestyles, writes Maxime Leblanc
Chance to position Europe at the forefront of global digital economy, says GSMA's Daniel Pataki.