Why the WOMEN’S Equality Party?
Why not the Equality Party?
So, I wasn’t going to do this, as I think it’s self-evident, as I think many of those un-persuaded are often not interested in being persuaded (ie, are asking it merely to barb), as I find it quite painful that anyone might not have noticed there is a case, specifically, for the as-yet-still-unachieved equality of over 50% of the world.
Last night I was asked again, by someone I respect, so here’s my answer.
It’s not WE’s standard answer, which is, usually, “It was debated and discussed at two public meetings. And decided upon because equality for women is better for everyone”.
It’s a true and accurate answer, and also brief. Which is great, because it states a truth: a thing didn’t happen yet, a thing that would be better for everyone – and a remedy: so we’re working on that thing.
But I know that some people I like and respect also don’t get it, so here’s MY longer-winded, and much more personal answer :
Well, the first thing that strikes me is that were this question to be asked of LGBT or disabled or BAME or class equality groups, it would, quite rightly be dismissed as absurd (and offensive) to ask a Black activist group for eg, “why are you only concerned about inequalities affecting Black people?” and yet there is an assumption that women should work on/look after ALL inequalities. What’s even odder about this, is it presupposes that women are not BAME, disabled, LGBT, that women are not doubly, trebly affected by inequality when they are also part of another unequal group, another discriminated-against group. It presupposes that WE are not concerned about these things. WE are, that’s why there are LGBT, working class, BAME and disabled women on the steering group.
(Though, even as I write this, I recall, long ago, as part of an LGBT thing, being asked why I wasn’t working on the problems of straight people too, and I bet there are Black activist groups who have been asked the same question, so … sigh.)
Here’s the thing. This is a choice, my choice. A choice to say, here is one inequality that affects over 50% of the world, and therefore everyone, and I’m prepared to give some time and energy to this attempt to deal with it. (And if someone wanted to start the Equality Party themselves, that would be their choice and it would be great for them to put their time and energy into it. I’d applaud them for doing so. This time and energy I’m giving to WE, right now, is my choice.)
We’ve tried, lots of us, for ages, decades, centuries, within and without the political parties and mechanisms that already exist, and still women are paid less, still women are raped/murdered/abused because they are women, still FGM exists, still girls routinely get treated less equally in classrooms/lecture halls, still religions vilify and shame women, still hardly any women run our major arts institutions (let alone banks, businesses etc), still women do the bulk of childcare, the vast bulk of ‘housework’, still women are the majority of part time (and therefore lowest paid) workers, and still only 30% ish of our UK politicians are women – and that’s lauded as an achievement.
It’s my time I’m using, my ‘spare’ (!) time, my resources, my effort. And this is true of every single one of the thousands of women (and men and non-gender binary people), all of us volunteering, who have offered their time and support since WE grew from a tiny beginning only two months ago.
I’m welcoming any who want to join, to support, to engage – and I don’t see it as up to me to persuade those who don’t – there isn’t time, there are so many who DO want to support and engage, WE can’t keep up with them!
I’m doing this because it matters to me. Because it has always mattered to me. Because, being a girl and a woman, I have always felt – and been – discriminated against. Because when I was six I was told I could not run and play in the big field, because that’s where the boys play.
Because I – and all of my gender – are still being told we cannot play where the boys play.
And because there are so many women, raped, beaten, abused, belittled, underpaid, overworked, uneducated, unsupported women, who do not have a chance to speak up for themselves. So our job is to change the world so they can have a voice – their own voice.
Also, it’s time. We’ve agitated, we’ve legislated, we’ve campaigned, we’ve asked nicely, and we’ve asked angrily. We’ve made equality laws that have been flouted time and again.
Basically, the only thing women haven’t done to get equal rights is go to war. And I don’t want to do that. So I’m trying this.
I wrote this Call to Action four years ago. To me, WE feels like an answer.
Edited to add – and, as Catherine Mayer says: “1 more reason: #WE mean to win, to deliver real change. That requires focus & clarity.”