Thoughts on equality

Why Don’t We Have Political Equality when Equality is better for everyone

When you vote 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 of people and that the weakest – including women and children have been ignored by our political system?

We have a women prime minister, but do we really 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

Why Don’t We Have Political Equality when Equality is better for everyone

When you vote 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 of people and that the weakest – including women and children have been ignored by our political system?

We have a women prime minister, but do we really 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.

Over the course of this decade more than 66 billion pounds 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 contribution to the economy as carers has never been recognised and as the health and social care systems are consistently underfunded it is women who are bearing the burden. Women – an unacknowledged army of grandmothers – provide the majority of childcare to support working parents.

Women also provide the backbone of the voluntary sector filling many of the 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 too often seen as a profitable investment whilst women’s jobs are an expense to be cut.

Brexit too further disadvantages women by removing employment rights and cutting funding for vital social projects.

Politicians talk about GDP, trade deals, government expenditure and tax regimes – not about the impact of these decisions on households – on cuts to Women’s Aid leaving victims of domestic abuse with nowhere to turn, to Sure Start which ends help to families and to pubic sector employment which impacts women disproportionately. Millions of pounds are spent on building new roads, whilst public transport becomes increasingly expensive.

The Women’s Equality Party asked women what they wanted and we listened, it is time that the political system met our needs – young and old, rich and poor, disabled or able-bodied, regardless of our race or sexuality. We can only achieve a better society by working together.

We believe in a fairer society for everyone – 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 not just for women but for everyone. Our leader Sophie Walker is standing against Philip Davies in Shipley and if you live in one of the constituencies where WEP has a candidate we would ask you to support us.

The statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in St Peter’s Square recognises the achievement of women in gaining votes, but our history has shown that gaining the vote was only the beginning of the struggle for an equal society for all. Ask your candidates what they are doing to achieve equality, campaign, vote and join us in the Women’s Equality Party in building a better, fairer society.

My thoughts in the Big Issue of 15 May 2017 in light of the General Election.