As I write this, it’s a strange and difficult time to be a woman. The headlines are full of #MeToo and #TimesUp, while reports of sexual harassment continue to pour in. There is both an empowerment to speak out and a weariness that we are still fighting these battles.
Now more than ever, it highlights the need for a political party that is serious about addressing the systemic inequalities that underpin all the abuses of power we have been hearing about, from rape to the insidious pressure of a hand on a knee. The actions might differ, but they all arise from a culture in which women’s worth is systematically undermined.
While British politics can feel inherently hostile towards anyone who isn’t a white, middle-class man, the Green Party breaks the mold. It stands out as a party that consistently provides platforms for women, works to advance gender equality, and is streets ahead of other parties in its efforts to provide a political space that is genuinely inclusive of all.
In recent months, Greens have pushed for gender equality in a range of areas, recognising that we need to change the society that has bred abuse as well as addressing the abuse itself. Amelia Womack’s push for misogyny to be made a hate crime and Caroline Lucas’s continued leadership on tackling sexual harassment in Westminster are vital.
As this edition demonstrates, patriarchy takes many forms, from the withdrawal of support for refuges to the abuse women face when expressing our opinions online. As we process the events of the past months, we cannot simply isolate a few offending individuals; we as Greens need to continue advancing gender equality in all areas, acknowledging how power imbalances and abuse are intimately linked.
Our starting points in the march to equality are different: it remains easier to speak out as a white woman, an affluent woman, a woman who does not need to worry about her health or accessibility. Being a woman is apparently enough to earn a lifetime of #MeToos - let alone a trans woman or someone who falls outside society’s gender binary altogether.
We must continue to look to our own policies and conduct to ensure that the Green Party is a political home where all feel welcome, safe and represented. In moving on from #MeToo, it is crucial that we are willing to listen, to respond, and to continue to campaign for change at all levels.