THE BLOG

Feminism Is Fashionable - but Still the Haters, Hate? Let's "Shake It Off, Shake It Off"

05/04/2015 20:49 BST | Updated 05/06/2015 10:59 BST

Feminism is fashionable. No, that's not an April Fools. Just look at the recent Grazia equal pay campaign supported by Gemma Arterton or the brilliant Emma Watson's #HeForShe campaign. Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep joined forces on a new Suffragette film in London and Taylor Swift loudly and proudly calls herself a feminist. It's no longer a 'dirty word', feminism is very much in the mainstream. I know that for some people this isn't a good thing; personally I am delighted. But does that mean we've 'won' and that we can sit back and relax? No.

There is still a major mismatch in power and public life. From Parliament, to Boards and from pay packets, to the polling station - too few women are in positions of power and too few female voices are heard. I believe that power needs to be redistributed from the few to the many, but if we don't make the case for this then the inbuilt structure will protect itself. This system is keeping power in the hands of the few and if, as women, we don't vote then we are silencing ourselves.

The General Election is in just over a month - tell you something you don't know, right? But, even the most politically active of us might not be aware that we may have fallen off the electoral register without even knowing it. The Government changed the rules in 2014 to individual registration. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have fallen off; one million some claim.

It's not just students - although there are LOTS of those! If you've moved house, or simply didn't fill in the most recent form, you might not be on the register. If you're one of those people then you could well turn up on election day only to be turned away - imagine waking on May 8th with a Prime Minister you despise and wondering if you could have made the difference.

That's why our campaign, RegistHERtoVote, is trying to ensure that more women check, get registered and go out and vote. You still have time (20 days - the deadline is 20 April), you can do it online and it takes less than 5 minutes.

Why women in particular? Well, to be blunt, we're letting the side down. There were 9.1million 'missing' women voters in the last election. That's more than all the women and girls in London, Manchester, Brighton, Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast staying at home on polling day. And the percentage of women voting is in decline.

In 1992, more women (78.2%) voted than men (77.2%). But it's been in going downhill ever since. In 2005 and 2010 there were more male voters - in the last General Election, just 64% of women voted compared with 67% of men. Young women aged 18 - 24 years are the least likely to vote. In 2010, only 39% decided it was worth their while going to the polling station. Young people are the most socially concerned generation. It's time to galvanize this into action on the 7th May.

When I last wrote for the Huffington Post, I was accused of 'only caring if women vote'. Of course that's not true. Everyone should have their say. Everyone should feel that politicians are working hard to gain their support and are getting their voices heard. But I do hope that this time round, more than 39% of young women do go out and vote. And - if people want to hate me for that, that's fine.

I'm delighted that feminism is up the agenda and that with the election set to be the closest in living memory - every vote really does matter. But until all voices are heard as loudly as Taylor Swift's - let's not sit back. Women need to be heard, and that means using our voices - no matter how much that enrages some. "Shake it Off, Shake it Off"!

Love your vote on the 7 May, so you don't hate the result on the 8th.

www.registhertovote.org.uk