THE BLOG

I'm Standing For Liverpool's Men And Women Ready For Change And Equality

09/03/2017 13:41 GMT | Updated 31/03/2017 16:42 BST

all women everywhere

Yesterday, International Women's Day, I stood on the steps of St George's Hall in Liverpool clutching a 'big cheque' made out for £23.7billion to the 'North West Economy'. It represented the amount that could be added to the region's economy if women were able to work the hours they wanted to, at the same rate of pay as men.

It is fair to say we attracted a great deal of attention. But since announcing my Women's Equality Party candidacy for Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, I have had to get used to people staring at me. People look at me with a mix of admiration that I'm standing up for what I believe in, and confusion. Confusion that I'm not a politician they recognise; that I'm a woman; and that I'm talking about the kinds of things that they don't usually count as 'politics'.

This was at first disconcerting, but the reaction has kicked off some great conversations. People in the Liverpool City Region are disillusioned with traditional politicians who seem to be all about power and not about people.

I wanted to stand as a candidate for the Women's Equality Party because the gender imbalance in politics is just plain wrong. And I thought if not me, then who?

The lack of women in politics in this country contributes to a culture that sees women as a special interest group when we are 51% of the population. It normalises gender roles that limit women in work and family life.

Every interviewer I've met so far has asked me 'what about the men?', usually with a wry smile. To which I answer: 'Equality is not finite. There is enough to go around. Giving women greater equality doesn't mean taking it from the other half of the population.'

It is my challenge to communicate this to everyone in the Liverpool City Region over the coming weeks. Diversity and equality aren't just nice ideas. They make for a stronger economy, happier families and more functional societies. This benefits us all.

The devolution deal for our region was negotiated by the leaders of its six local authorities. They're all men. Women councillors make up less than 30% of cabinet positions across all six leadership teams.

The Northern Powerhouse project itself was set up to boost economic growth in the north of England. It is a project that cannot succeed if it fails to harness the talents of half its population.

And in Liverpool City Region, there is another urgent problem that prompted me to stop shouting at the telly, and start taking action. Liverpool has the highest reported rate of domestic violence in the country. This shames our city.

My key priority is to develop a region-wide strategy to end violence against women and girls. Take a moment to think about that. Liverpool has the highest level of reported domestic violence, and no strategy to deal with it.

I want my candidacy to change the conversation in the mayoral race. I want to reach those women - and men - in the Liverpool City Region who are ready for real change, and who are ready to show that they think equality is important.

Being the only female candidate in this mayoral race means I stand out. But I want to stand out because of what I stand for, not just because I am a woman. And that means making sure every vote counts.

Tabitha Morton is the Women's Equality Party's candidate for Liverpool metro mayor. For more information on her candidacy, click here

HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today

Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com