To possibly the surprise of, oh, pretty much nobody, I’ve just joined the newly-minted Women’s Equality Party as a founder member. After a year out of work, I haven’t yet started earning again (that comes next week, when I start my new job) but somehow, paying to support and join a party which has women’s equal participation as its sole manifesto feels likes something that I want to do now that I’m in a position to do so. I felt so frustrated and disillusioned with the way in which the main political parties approached gender issues during the most recent UK election that being a positive part of a different way forward feels like something that I can really get behind.
One of the things that I didn’t predict happening when I moved out of London in 2013 was how very isolated I would feel, politically. I’ve gone from living in one of the most diverse cities in the world, in a Labour held constituency with female and Asian candidates on not only my own constituency’s candidate list but also on the lists of the adjacent constituencies, to being an invisible resident in a location where every single candidate who was fielded here on May 7th 2015 was a white man. My general voting approach, if I’ve been after a tactical plan rather than voting for the majority candidate, has been to consider voting for the female candidate on the docket – but here, for the first time in my entire voting life that I can remember, there was no female. I did get quite excited when I saw that the Labour candidate was called Kim – but no, Kim was a bloke too. I did vote for him, as it happens, along with a few hundred others but it made no difference, either to Kim, the constituency profile or of course, the majority Government.
So. A new way forward. Although I loathe everything they stand for, UKIP have shown us that being a single issue party can be a platform on which to build success and a profile and what could be a bigger single issue than bringing about more equality for 51% of the population?
Repeat after me: “Women are not a minority …”
Here’s the link to the BBC story on the party being set up by Sandi Toksvig in May. And here’s the #WE party objectives:
#WE are pushing for equal representation in politics, business, industry and throughout working life.
#WE are pressing for equal pay and an equal opportunity to thrive.
#WE are campaigning for equal parenting and caregiving and shared responsibilities at home to give everyone equal opportunities both in family life and in the work place.
#WE urge an education system that creates opportunities for all children and an understanding of why this matters. #WE strive for equal treatment of women by and in the media.
#WE seek an end to violence against women.