When you vote on June 8th what issues will influence you? Brexit, war with North Korea, terrorism, immigration – or austerity, child care, education, the NHS, social care and the basic unfairness of our society. Will politicians be campaigning on ‘women’s issues’, recognising that the economy does not work for the majority, and that the weakest – including women and children – are ignored by our political system?
We have a female prime minister, but do we have equality? For decades, female MPs have made up less than 5% of the total seats and today we have only 191 women MPs out of 650. And whilst women aren’t making political decisions, we’re definitely feeling the impact of them.
Over the course of this decade more than £66 billion will be taken from women’s pockets in tax rises and cuts in social security. Austerity has hit women hit twice as hard as men. Women pensioners will be 20% worse off as their rights are specifically targeted and women will retire on an average income of £14,300 a year compared with £19,100 for men.
Women’s contributions to the economy as carers are not recognised and as health and social care systems are continually underfunded, women are bearing the burden as their caring provision increases. An army of grandmothers provide childcare to support working parents. Women provide the backbone of the voluntary sector, filling roles which have been the victims of austerity: they staff the food banks and work for underfunded charities.
‘Women’s jobs’ have been consistently underpaid and women are further penalised for taking time out of full-time unemployment. It is time to recognise the economic contribution of women both paid and unpaid, visible or invisible.
Men’s jobs are seen as a profitable investment whilst women’s jobs are an expense to be cut. A hard Brexit threatens to further disadvantage women by removing employment rights and cutting funding for vital social projects.
Politicians talk about GDP, trade deals, government expenditure and tax regimes rather than the impact of these decisions on households; on cuts to Women’s Aid charities leaving victims of domestic abuse with nowhere to turn and to Sure Start which ends help to families and to public sector employment which impacts women disproportionately. Millions of pounds are spent on building new roads, whilst local, public transport becomes increasingly expensive.
The Women’s Equality Party asked women what they wanted and we listened: a political system that meets all needs – young and old, rich and poor, disabled and able-bodied, regardless of our race or sexuality. We can only achieve a better society by working together.
We believe in a fairer society – equality for women, not at the expense of men, but to build a better country for us all – where women and girls can live in safety, where social media is no longer a dangerous place, where caring is valued, a truly equal society.
The Women’s Equality Party is an important new voice in fighting for equality – for a better society for all. We care about electing politicians who listen to all. Our leader, Sophie Walker, is standing against Philip Davies in Shipley who just a few months ago hit the headlines for trying to talk out a bill that will implement a ‘gold standard’ framework for eliminating violence against women and girls. Our Withington candidate Sally Carr MBE has worked for equality in LGBT communities throughout her career as have our other national candidates.
The upcoming statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in Manchester’s St Peter’s Square recognises the achievement of women in gaining votes, but history has shown that this was just the beginning of the struggle. Over the next month please ask candidates what they are doing to achieve equality; join the Women’s Equality Party in campaigning for a better, fairer society.
Make a difference this general election and give your voices and votes to equality.