MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Thu 16-Apr-15 13:57:24

Guest post: "We've set up The Women's Equality Party - and we need you"

Sophie Walker writes on why British politics needs a party focused on gender equality, and urges everyone to stand behind them

Sophie Walker

The Women's Equality Party

Posted on: Thu 16-Apr-15 13:57:24


Lead photo

'I want to give my daughters the chances I thought I had, but didn't.'

When I was 17, I thought the world was my oyster. By the time I hit 37, I felt like a well-worn piece of grit that stood little chance of becoming a pearl, no matter how hard I tried.

These days I look at my daughters and I think about how I can open up the world for them and give them all the chances I thought I had, but didn't.

Today marks three weeks until the general election. Everyone's talking about it being a cliffhanger, but I don't see it that way. To me it seems like a foregone conclusion – a forty-something white man in a suit will be in charge again.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against forty-something white men. I'm married to one, for a start. He's lovely. But I suspect that the reason all the polls are showing a general lack of enthusiasm for the ballot on May 7 may be that many others like me are finding it hard to muster enthusiasm to make a choice when it seems as though we're in for a disappointment, whoever wins.

Quite often I wish I had moved back to my native Scotland, so that I could vote for the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon and a woman's take on politics. Many women I know are considering voting Green because its female leader Natalie Bennett looks like she could also offer a different perspective.

When it comes down to it, I want to vote for someone who I think cares and understands my life. Right now I don't see anyone standing for parliament in my local community who fits that bill. Neither do a great many of my friends.

So we've decided to do something about it. This isn't another ‘if only’ article. This is a call to come with us and help us change things.

We're setting up The Women's Equality Party, and we want you. And the bloke sitting beside you. Because equality for women isn't just a women's issue. When women and girls fulfill their potential, men and boys do too. A system in which 78 percent of MPs are men, and there are more men called John leading FTSE 100 companies than there are women leading those companies, disadvantages men as well as women. They're only seeing half the world and they're only living in half of it. When both sexes can live and work side by side, the whole world opens up. (And there's your oyster, my lovely girls.)

When it comes down to it, I want to vote for someone who I think cares and understands my life. Right now I don't see anyone standing for parliament in my local community who fits that bill. So we've decided to do something about it.

There's a whole bunch of policies to achieve equality that I've yet to see make it on to any manifesto. So the Women's Equality Party is setting out to do something about them.

We want equal pay: an end to the grim reality that because you're a woman you're probably receiving less money from your boss at the end of every month than Kevin and Gary across the office.

We want equal parenting: the opportunity for your children's dad to spend more time with them – whether paternity leave, or just sports day and the nativity play, or that day when they're ill and someone needs to stay home - without being looked at weirdly and cut out of interesting projects at work.

We want equal career opportunities: so that while dads are with the kids more often, both mums and women without kids can pursue a career without bearing the burden of expectation that they're only going to take loads of time off should they get pregnant - and thus miss out on those promotions to Kevin and Gary across the office.

And while we're at it, how about an end to violence against woman? How about an end to the lazy classification of science, building and exploring as being ‘boys' stuff’? How about the creation of an education system that creates opportunities for all girls and boys along with an understanding of why this matters?

Because it does matter. These things aren't just ‘nice to have’. They are not things that we should just get around to once we've sorted out the deficit and the NHS. They are essential.

Take the economy. Numerous research papers have proven that companies whose staff is diverse in gender and race are more likely than those without that to expand market share and capture new markets. It's the kind of performance that any company emerging from our recent recession, and any Chancellor of the Exchequer, would surely want to see.

Take society. When women and men are set up in opposition neither side wins. Instead of grinding along feeling as though the other side doesn't understand or sympathise, we can live as partners and fulfil our true potential.

And take the world of politics. With equal numbers of women and men in parliament, both sexes can govern their country to the benefit of everyone.

We can bring about change by winning – support, votes and seats. Our focus is clear and our aim is to keep attracting votes from the other parties until they embrace and adopt our agenda of equality.

Interested? The Women's Equality Party's mission statement is listed in full on their Facebook page here and they are meeting to discuss the way forward on Saturday, 5.30pm until 8pm, at the Conway Hall. You can register to attend and bring all your own ideas here.

By Sophie Walker

Twitter: @SophieRunning

atticusfinchatemybaby Thu 16-Apr-15 14:29:44

Count me in.

SophRunning Thu 16-Apr-15 15:05:39

Great, see you on Saturday!

fustybritches Thu 16-Apr-15 16:17:46

Amazing! Good for you thanks

Heckler Thu 16-Apr-15 17:55:47

Nice one.

YonicScrewdriver Thu 16-Apr-15 18:45:38

Well done.

alexpolistigers Thu 16-Apr-15 19:31:18

Wow! Good for you for getting up and doing something about it, instead of accepting the status quo and moaning about it with your friends. Good luck.


chocmeup Thu 16-Apr-15 21:22:18

When it comes down to it, I want to vote for someone who I think cares and understands my life... So we've decided to do something about it.

Thank you for taking a stand on my behalf. I think you're incredibly brave and you'd definitely get my vote.

MrsToddsShortcut Thu 16-Apr-15 21:36:33

Sadly can't make Saturday, but so up for this! Have linked to FB page but is there anywhere or way that we can register interest? Sign up? Volunteer etc?

Thanks so much for doing this.

Movingonmymind Thu 16-Apr-15 22:59:58

Yep, great idea.
As i ponder my 3 decades buying "luxury" female hygiene items (not sure which is most offensive), not reacting to the occasional, low level was it/wasnt it grope... Not questioning the lack of a p/t train season ticket, why i had to breastfeed in a dusanled loo at uni whereas the orange-allergic person got posters splashed around pleading for no oranges to be eaten in the entire building- an orange policy but not a bfing policy? hmm
Doing several washes, cooking and hiusehold admin while working from home because the au pair thought as it was me I didn't need help. But when it's dh he does hmmhmm
Oh and a fucking pink bus!!! Thank you Labourhmm

SmirnoffVice Thu 16-Apr-15 23:07:32

"And while we're at it, how about an end to violence against woman?"

Sorry but this all reads like Feminism Lite, and what are you hoping to achieve exactly? It's too late for the Election and you seem to be discussing nothing that it is not covered eg by the Fawcett Society. Is this not just another of those strange Guest Posts?

SmirnoffVice Thu 16-Apr-15 23:09:36

Do you have policies on how to go about ending violence to women for example? That is something that would actually be of interest.

Romeyroo Fri 17-Apr-15 04:34:23

I am in Scotland and just to add a positive voice for Nicola Sturgeonsmile; she is one of a number of women doing good things in politics and on the ground here.
Agree entirely about thinking you had equality but not; in many ways, the inequality is more nuanced now which makes it harder to fight.
Good luck to you all, even getting some recognition for the issues would be a good thing

Singsongsung Fri 17-Apr-15 06:58:05

I think it's important to remember that when you vote, you don't just vote for the man in the suit but for the whole party and their policies!

ChopperGordino Fri 17-Apr-15 08:02:54

What an excellent thing to do. I look forward to hearing about discussions from Saturday

GuiltyAsAGirlCanBe Fri 17-Apr-15 09:43:03

How represented are you in the south west? I would be interested in getting involved.

wonderstuff Fri 17-Apr-15 10:00:42

The Green Party do have a strong feminist group and policies. In Basingstoke they stood two candidates wanting to job share and are now seeking a judicial review into the legality of their application being rejected. If they win it will open the door to Westminster for people with disabilities and caring responsibilities. I'm standing as Green candidate in my ward for local elections. So I can vote for someone like me. grin

Forming your own party sounds fab, and I wish you well, but it may be more practical to push your agenda through an already established party?

sunbathe Fri 17-Apr-15 12:37:07

Having a woman leading a political party does not guarantee policies I'd vote for.

SophRunning Fri 17-Apr-15 13:42:38

Hello all and thanks for all your comments. Please come if you can tomorrow and bring all of these thoughts. We want you to help us write these policies fully and by that we mean coming up with practical suggestions/aims/targets which would indeed relate also to ending violence towards women. As far as this election goes, yes, we won't be able to stand. But we aim to stand at the next one, which may come around more quickly given the expected stalemate result on May 7. Yes, we know that it would be better that mainstream parties took our policies on board, but we don't think they will do that until they start losing votes to us. When that happens, we will consider our work done. We don't have groups set up outside London but we'd LOVE you to work with us on doing that. You can contact us at Cheers, all.

CloserToFiftyThanTwenty Fri 17-Apr-15 18:59:01

Why not just "The Equality Party"?

SophRunning Fri 17-Apr-15 19:34:00

Because that covers race, religion, sexuality and a whole host of other possibilities, while we want to focus, for now, on women's equality.

HeeHiles Sat 18-Apr-15 01:21:31

When The Women Went On Strike

Perhaps this could be your first course of action?

Jackieharris Sat 18-Apr-15 12:17:05

The Conway hall?

hmm are you aware of the hoo-ha surrounding them and a certain feminist conference a couple of years ago?

Tbh, and I've spoken to many women of different parties with political experience about this, setting up a new party takes decades. You can spend the whole of the ready of your life doing this only for any real impact to not come for a couple of generations at least.

Getting the existing parties to be more feminist is a more effective way to achieve more in our lifetimes.

But I do wish you well with your project.

Thetruthshallsetyoufree Sat 18-Apr-15 14:12:16

Because that covers race, religion, sexuality and a whole host of other possibilities, while we want to focus, for now, on women's equality.

Ahh! Thanks for the clarification. Let's not face the fact that white women are part of the oppression of Women of colour, let's all pretend we're starting off on an equal footing(all in it together!) fighting for our equal rights, whatever they are. Good luck!

houseofnerds Sat 18-Apr-15 21:29:27

Nice effort at belittling someone fighting for equality, truth. Perhaps less condescension and some sharing of that superior intellect you believe you have, in the form of concrete ideas, would further the feminist cause better.

That said, the OP does read as though it has been dumbed down for a parenting audience. You might want to work on the voice if you want the more die-hard and cynical (see above) feminists to step up and get involved.

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