Over in the United Kingdom, a new political party is making headlines. The Women’s Equality Party, formed in March 2015, officially launched its policy and ideology on October 20th, bringing some much needed discussion to the table.
The party hopes to list candidates for all elections in the upcoming year, and among its blueprints for a more progressive and equal country are six stated goals for the party. The six, which were first listed for the party this summer, consist of equal representation in politics and business, equal representation in education, equal pay, equal treatment of women by and in the media, equal parenting rights, and an end to violence against women. Founder Catherine Mayer said in a radio program with BBC, “We’re not looking to be a party that can answer questions about what should be done in the Ukraine, or trying to have a platform on the environment or anything else, we are focusing absolutely narrowly on that equality agenda.”
Led by former journalist Sophie Walker, the party has accumulated more than 45,000 members since its inception in March, and has already faced criticism for unveiling its first major policies. The document, which can be found here, is a call to action for the women of the UK that seeks to turn one of the world’s most economically resourceful and powerful nations into a leader in changing the roles that women play in society. It highlights many of the issues that they see and provides potential solutions.
With their stance on equal pay, they stated in the document that not only are women paid less on average than men, “they are more likely to sacrifice the opportunity to earn a wage for the sake of their family. The contribution of women to our economy and our society is undervalued, both in paid work and at home.”
In response, not only do they support the act to make pay more transparent via annual reports from companies (already in place via the current political system in the UK) but they are also pushing for a more equal pension to better financially support retired and disabled women. They are also pushing for equal leave between parents, which would not only support fathers taking care of children, but same-sex partners.
The Women’s Equality Party is also taking a more progressive stance on educating young adults about sex and relationships. In the UK, the government mandates that students from age 11 onwards must be taught about reproduction, sexual activity, and health, but only parts of it are compulsory. They intend add age-appropriate relationship education, especially at the college and university level, to teach students about respect and consent.
In its provided document, it lists off some statistics about the status of women in the UK. One in three women are turned away from refuge in shelters or safe spaces because they lack space to house them. About 74% of lawmakers in the UK are men. This party is trying to change that.
However, they are still the recipients of criticism over their introduced policies and how they are marketed towards the general public. For example, they aimed to introduce gender quotas to elect women as half of Parliament, which has left some with a bad taste in their mouths. Some folks over in the UK also think that it’s too exclusive in terms of accepting people of different genders. Interestingly enough, though, this is the first party of its kind to make a foray into specializing in gender issues, and it has some fantastic ideas and brainpower behind it.
Cover image courtesy of The Guardian.