THE BLOG

Without Radical Change Equality Will Forever Be Something Dreamt of, Not Something Experienced

23/09/2015 07:58 BST | Updated 22/09/2016 10:12 BST

When people ask why I joined the Women's Equality Party, I have to try not to be flippant - it's my default setting when I'm asked questions to which the answers seem obvious.

My politics has always been personal and there is nothing more personal to me than my gender.

Because of my gender I am very aware that two of my sisters will lose their lives this week at the hand of a current or ex-partner; that there is a young woman out there wondering if the dress she wore last night was the reason she was raped; that unless I can prevent it, my four-year-old niece may grow up to believe the daily deluge of media imagery representing her as a second-class citizen.

My gender came into focus for me age of seven and since then I have been on a journey has changed my life.

At the age of seven I was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). This did not happen because I was African or Muslim, but because I was female. I came back from that summer trip to Somalia to continue to live in the United Kingdom. By the age of 11, I had worked out that FGM was rooted in patriarchy and assumed that those tasked with leading this country would recognise this too, and care enough to protect girls like me. I also assumed that by the time I grew up I would be paid equally to men and be able to have a baby without affecting my career.

But the older I got the more I lost faith that - without radical change - this equality would be something I would ever actually experience. In the last 30 years of my life I have been talked at, not to, and never truly engaged by politicians. My rights and the rights of girls who look like me, to live equally and have control over our own bodies, have been deemed less important than pretty much everything else, from phone hacking to MPs' expenses and how much they get paid.

So when in April this year I walked into the second public meeting of the Women's Equality Party, I knew I had found a new home. As a member of WE I don't need to explain why my vagina needs protecting or why I am angry that I still get overlooked for promotion at work. In a non-partisan environment over the last few months people of all genders have come together to build the change that we need in our country. To say I am honoured to be part of this movement would be an understatement. I am privileged.

I hope that when the next generation looks back at this period in time it is from a place where WE will have achieved its six objectives and that will be thanks to this new political party. What will this future Britain look like? Happier, for one thing, and at ease with itself, and wealthier too because there will be more women working and creating. Because there will be equal representation in politics, business, industry and throughout working life. Equal pay and an equal opportunity to thrive will be the norm. Women will be equally represented both by and in the media. Everyone will share equal opportunities both in family life and in the work place thanks to equal parenting and caregiving. Our education system will create opportunities for all children, irrespective of sex. And the violence against women and girls that is a daily reality for so many of us will be a distant memory.

Nimco Ali is the co-founder of Daughters of Eve, a non-profit working to protect girls and young women at risk from FGM