Julie Ward is a Labour MEP (Member of European Parliament) for the North West of England. She is also a writer, theatre-maker and cultural activist who began her working life on the factory floor before becoming a community arts worker for Mid-Pennine Arts in Lancashire and then a Community Drama Worker for Contact Theatre in Manchester. In 1984 she was appointed director of a regional arts and disability organisation covering five counties in the North of England and in 1986 she co-founded Jack Drum Arts, a rural artists' co-operative that continues to provide a wide range of activities for all sections of the community with a focus on people with mental health issues and disadvantaged youth.
Motivated by the appalling level of violence against women and girls and the growing inequality in society, Julie entered politics for the first time as a Labour candidate in the May 2014 elections, achieving a high position on the regional list which assured her of electoral success. She is a member of the parliament’s committees on Culture and Education, Regional Development as well as the Women Rights and Gender Equality Committee. She is a member of the parliament's Delegation for Relations with Bosnia, Herzegovina and Kosovo, and the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries). She is also a board member of the European Internet Forum, and a founding member of the European Caucus of Women in Parliament - a global forum.
Julie is a children's rights champion, having co-founded the European Parliament cross-party and cross-committee intergroup on Children's Rights. She is also active on a number of other intergroups including Disability, Youth, Common Goods & Public Services, Creative Industries, LGBTI, Anti-Poverty, Trade Unions and Social Economy. She is now on the Labour Party’s Children and Education Policy Commission as a European Parliamentary Labour Party representative, as well a Culture and Education committee representative to the inter-committee network on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
She was named North East Woman Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003 and has served on the board of Culture North East and Arts Council England as well as being a school governor and a member of Durham University's Citizen's Panel. In 2009 she decided to go to university and study for a Masters in Education and International Development, graduating in 2012. Julie is a Churchill Fellow and has travelled and worked all around the world with a particular focus on Europe and neighbouring countries. She sits on the executive board of National Drama and is a volunteer for the Institute of Ideas national youth debating competition. She is also a patron of Dance Syndrome, a disability-led community dance enterprise, and PANDA - the Performing Arts Network Development Agency.