What Do Women Want? WE Want To Know

26/09/2016 02:25
Chris Ratcliffe via Getty Images

Twenty years ago, ten thousand women took part in a ground-breaking study. It asked them simply: "What do you want?"

Responses flooded in from across the UK. Women wanted "affordable childcare", "equal pay for equal work," and "freedom to be me." Women wanted the rejection of a society that prized youth and beauty above all, and for young people to be taught mutual respect at school.

In 2016 it remains a radical act for a woman to talk about what she wants from her personal life, her career or from society. For the last twenty years women have been sold a "one size fits all" politics from parties that, in search of the widest vote share, presented a false homogeny based on male experience that leaves women behind.

Small wonder, then, that so little progress has been made on issues that disproportionately affect women. It is this lack of understanding that led to the creation of the Women's Equality Party. WE demand gendered policy decisions and the power to build the kind of world where women are free to reach their potential. WE are building a movement that not only welcomes the complexity of women's lives but fights for it to be recognised in all of the political decisions of this country.

In striving to stand for every British woman and be the political voice of women's collective demands WE must listen to every British woman.

So this month we are teaming up with the What Women Want team to relaunch their project.

Our branches across the UK are staging events and canvassing in their local communities to ask women of all backgrounds, ethnicity and experience what they want. I will ensure that the outcome of this survey will directly impact the values and the policy direction of this Party. Our collaborative approach means that the results will be open to all other parties too.

Over the last eighteen months since we first started work on WE, we have built a movement of 65,000 members and registered supporters that together have written practical policies for delivering our six objectives: equal education, shared parenting and caregiving, equal pay, equal representation in business and politics, an end to violence against women and girls, and equal representation in the media.

Since we started this work and in the wake of the EU referendum result, the British population has seen dividing lines emerge, with an ever clearer desire for the end of top-down politics and a collaborative, activist-led approach.

This is another reason for us to focus on What Women Want 2.0 - the opportunity to train local activists, to grow their neighbourhood knowledge and understand the diverse needs of their communities. We are focusing on preparing a new generation of female candidates at local government level to tackle the current dearth of representation: women make up only 32 percent of local councillors in England, 27 percent in Wales and 24 percent in Scotland and in Northern Ireland.

In the coming weeks much press attention will focus on David Cameron's seat of Witney as the old parties slug it out for a spot in Westminster. But politics happens in communities, not just in the House of Commons. So instead of fighting for a small amount of airtime in which to tell Witney voters what we think they need, WE will instead be asking the voters of Brockley what they want. WE hope that by listening carefully we will win a seat on the local council.

Twenty years after women flooded the UK with their demands, they still make up this country's poorest people. They are still murdered at a rate of two a week, by a partner or former partner. And their domestic labour is still invisible and unpaid.

It is time for women to raise their voices again. This time a feminist political force is listening.

To find out more, and to answer the question 'what do you want?', go to