When we created the Women’s Equality Party almost three years ago, we started with a founding principle to collaborate with members and supporters of other parties to achieve our goals. We understand – as do the Greens – that change in this country is too often blocked by tribal loyalties and institutional inertia, and therefore elements of society and politics must work together when their goals align.
We were pleased to work with the Greens in last year’s general election as part of the progressive alliance and salute the inspirational work of Caroline Lucas, who is a constant reminder of the benefits of having smaller parties represented in Parliament and, as the only MP in England not from the three main parties, a reminder of the importance of electoral reform.
The importance of collaboration is evident when we consider the campaign for women’s equality. When, in 1918, the first women were given the right to vote, it was on the back of a campaign that was led by wealthy white women. The next stage in the fight for women’s equality requires a more diverse coalition of voices that cuts across race, class, background, religion, political affiliation and disability to fully reflect contemporary Britain.
There is so much to do before equality becomes a reality. In recent months, we have seen the lid lifted on the sexual harassment that pervades every industry – from Hollywood and Westminster, to call centres and shop floors - and on the scale of the existing pay gap in every industry that reflects womens’ lack of equal opportunity to progress in their careers.
Meanwhile, the criminal justice system continues to fail victims of rape and sexual assault with a shamefully low conviction rate, and government cuts threaten services like domestic abuse refuges (see p.15), which are a lifeline to so many women. Austerity is still hitting women disproportionately hard, while their reliance on state support is fostered by the country’s failure to invest properly in childcare and social care.
The Green Party and Women’s Equality Party agree on a number of principles: radical change is needed in the UK and we are not prepared to wait for it any longer; the political establishment has repeatedly proved itself unwilling and unable to deliver that change, despite having the power and resources to do so; and progressive parties need to work together to amplify each other’s voices and to shake the establishment out of its complacency.
To encourage input from people who already have allegiances to other parties, we have affiliate membership available for those who are already signed up to other parties – like the Greens’ own ‘friends’ offer.
So join us if you want to strengthen the work the Green Party is doing. Together we agree that women deserve equal representation and equal pay; we agree radical change is needed to address the structural imbalances that leave women disproportionately in low-paid jobs. Work with us if you want to make sure that the responsibilities and opportunities of caregiving are shared equally; if you want to create an education system that imbues boys and girls with equal aspirations for their lives; if you want to challenge a media that too often defends and propagates problems in the status quo; and if you want to work to end the epidemic of violence against women and girls. Together, let’s make it happen.