THE BLOG

Why WE Cannot Wait For This Election

19/04/2017 08:19 BST | Updated 19/04/2017 08:20 BST
Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

General Elections are the time when political parties present their best selves to the electorate. Snap elections are when those parties show themselves as they truly are. This 8 June voters will go to the ballot box because the Conservative Party has gone for cynical poll-tracking over a five-year promise and Labour has run out of time to resolve its civil war.

But this isn't a binary contest, no matter that over the next short weeks we will be presented with tribal choices of right or left, Leave or Remain. This election is a chance to put hope and opportunity back on the agenda and choose something new. The Women's Equality Party is out to joyfully shatter the old model, with the politics of women's liberation and a collaborative approach to creating fairer systems that work better for everyone. WE burst into life two years ago to build an alternative to parties whose manifestos left women's choices til last and viewed cross-party collaboration with the distrust of people at war.

This election, WE exist for voters to choose a political party that will, as a priority, build a country where carers are valued and their work understood as a vital economic motor, investment in which will create vital social infrastructure jobs and lift the strain on the NHS. Care is work - often hard and challenging. That it is done primarily by women does not diminish this truth.

WE exist also so voters can choose to build education, skills and training that enables young people to flourish according to their talents rather than their sex, so that future trade deals bring jobs for women as well as men and we close this country's productivity and pay gap.

WE will offer voters a party that wants government budgets to assess the impact of spending and cuts on women as well as men so that vital public services are protected, women's services are nourished and funded, and a cohesive society fosters mutual respect that ends violence against women and girls. WE will reject repellent legislation like the rape clause, undo the damage of paltry personal independence payments and stop the abuse and detention of refugees.

And as the Conservatives drive for the hardest kind of EU departure, WE will ensure that women, who have already paid for austerity, do not pay too for Brexit. As a party that set out to amplify all women's voices we argued during the Referendum debate that both sides should be assessed from an equalities point of view. That did not happen; women's protections and prospects barely featured. Now WE will strive to ensure that "looking after our own" means maintaining the right to equal pay, pregnancy protections and part-time workers' rights. That means offering equal chances to women who come to this country looking for a better life. WE will assess the final Brexit deal according to the promise of whether it really does deliver a better future and work cross-party to build that consensus.

More than anything WE will explode the political myth that equality and social justice have no bearing on economic growth. WE will offer voters the chance to put both at the heart of our country's future growth and at the core of our international relations. Only this way can we ensure that politics reflect the needs and lives of 100% of the UK population and engage fully and optimistically with the rest of the world.

WE can't wait any longer to make women's voices heard. WE can't wait for this election.

Sophie Walker is the leader of the Women's Equality Party (WEP)