The Women’s Equality Party (WE Party) came to life in the United Kingdom in the spring of 2015, and has not looked back since. The party, with its self-explanatory name, is saying, “WE are not going to wait for equality, WE are going to make it happen — now.”
The party was co-founded by author and journalist, Catherine Mayer, and broadcaster and author, Sandi Toksvig. The party is currently led by former Reuters journalist, Sophie Walker. Walker participated in the London Mayoral elections in May 2016, and was able to gain 5.2 percent of the vote. She is adamant to continue as an active politician.
While women make up 51 percent of the UK population, they are still a minority in terms of voices heard in political, judicial, and business spheres. Even in the UK, one of the most developed and progressive regions of the world, women only comprise a sliver of representation, at only 28 percent of Members of Parliament, 25 percent of judges, and 24 percent of FTSE 100 directors. It is not difficult to see how a party giving a spotlight to women would be necessary.
The Women’s Equality Party has focused on creating solutions for the obvious gender equality gap, which has been extensively discussed with few substantial gains to show for it.
The feminist political party demands equal representation in politics, business, and industry. They press for equal pay, and also for equal parenting responsibilities, standing for equal opportunities both at home and in the workplace. The party is also pushing for a massive change in the education system for girls and boys to learn about the discrimination females face, and the importance of facing these issues head-on. Finally, the WE Party has complete intolerance for violence against women and seeks its termination as a priority.
“With our policies, we could have an equal parliament in just two elections. We could ensure every woman fleeing abuse was safe and got justice. We could ensure every working woman had access to childcare. We could ensure dads no longer felt stigmatized for looking after their children. We could ensure that every child grew up thinking gender equality is normal,” the party’s official website states.
So, why a political party focused strictly on gender equality instead of working within other parties? Walker argues that while the UK has established the Sex Discrimination Act, legally mandating equal pay and shared parental leave, these are only statuses that do not work so well in practice. In a previous interview, Walker stated, “We very deliberately set out to adopt the same model that was used so effectively by the Green Party and by UKIP, which is to put a political party around our goal; to use it as an electoral force. Because when you start threatening the vote share of the other parties, that’s when your agenda becomes their agenda.”