‘We want to hear what women want’

    The leader of the UK’s fastest-growing political party visits Tunbridge Wells as part of an ‘unprecedented canvassing project’

    Sophie Walker

    The leader of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP), Sophie Walker, believes that all too often the political conversation is being led by a small group of men, who see the issue of women’s equality as ‘simply a tick-box exercise.’

    Speaking at the Camden Centre, as we reported last week, she launched the ‘What Women Want 2.0’ campaign, stating:

    “We are determined to do politics differently, to actually listen.”

    In a passionate half-hour speech to the 50-strong audience, she emphasised the straightforwardness of the party’s goals:

    “Our aim is simple – to put what women want at the heart of British politics.”

    This is the motivation for the relaunching of the 1996 campaign, in which the Women’s Communication Centre distributed postcards in banks, libraries, cafes and community centres across the UK asking women ‘What do you want?’

    Ms Walker expects many of the same responses as 20 years ago, condemning the ‘failed attempts of other parties’ to solve the issues of equal pay, equal and affordable childcare and domestic violence.

    Citing the frustration and disenfranchisement women felt at the options in the last general election, she was fiercely critical of the current political landscape:

    Describing WEP as the ‘first non-partisan party in the UK’, Ms Walker encouraged everyone in the room to become a member, regardless of which party they support.

    The WEP has over 65,000 members in 70 branches, with 161 of them in Tunbridge Wells.

    After her speech, the floor opened up for a Q&A, with one audience member asking why WEP had decided to form a political party rather than a campaign group.

    “Because there are hundreds of those already,” she exclaimed, slamming her hands down on the table.

    “These organisations are brilliant, but if you are a campaign group you only get so far, you’re offered a cup of tea, a ‘thank you very much’ but then the door is shut in your face.

    “As a party we can say ‘do it or lose your seat’. That is the only way to ensure effective change in this country, by threatening the other parties’ vote.”

    Amanda Turner
    ‘Women I talk to find it really hard to be picked for senior positions within companies’
    Amanda Turner – Chair, Tunbridge Wells branch
    Katie Sims
    ‘I really think women’s issues do not get a fair amount of representation – in politics or the media’
    Kate Sims – Committee member, Tunbridge Wells branch
    Derek Cuff
    ‘I work with women who are victims of domestic violence and in schools to educate on healthy relationships’
    Derek Cuff – Member of Tunbridge Wells branch
    HISTORY
    • WEP was founded by journalist Catherine Meyer and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig in March 2015, opening for membership in July that year
    • On July 22, 2015, Sophie Walker was unanimously voted to lead the party
    • In the London Mayoral election, Ms Walker received 5.2 per cent of the total votes (251,755), just behind UKIP’s 6.6 per cent
    • They currently have over 65,000 members in 70 branches nationwide. The Tunbridge Wells branch currently has 161 members.
    OBJECTIVES
    • Equal Representation – in business, the judiciary and politics
    • Equal Pay & Opportunity – End the current disparity, where women earn 81p of every pound earned by men
    • Equal Parenting and Caregiving – Give more men the opportunity to care for and enjoy time with their children
    • Equal Education – Free gendered expectations about the life children should lead
    • Equal Media Treatment – Challenge reporting and advertising that demeans women and perpetuates gender stereotypes.
    • End Violence Against Women – From being molested on public transport to domestic violence at home, millions of women feel unsafe every day of their lives

    If you wish to join the party, visit: www.womensequality.org.uk

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