NEWS
22/01/2019 10:01 GMT

Women's Equality Party: Sophie Walker Steps Down As Leader To 'Make Space For New Voices'

“I think that sometimes in order to lead, you have to get out of the way."

Sophie Walker has stepped down as leader of the Women’s Equality Party in a bid to “make space for new voices”.

Walker, the first leader of the feminist political party, is stepping down after four years at the helm.

The former Reuters journalist posted a statement to Twitter on Tuesday morning announcing her decision.

“After four years of building @WEP_UK I have decided to resign. Because sometimes in order to lead, you have to get out of the way,” she wrote.

“The political quagmire in which the UK finds itself cries out for new activists and new ideas.

“With democracy so broken, it has never been more important to do politics differently. My urgent aim is to champion many new campaigners, activists and leaders with different backgrounds.”

Detailing her frustrations with feminist and political movements not being inclusive enough, Walker added: “I am also frustrated by the limits of my own work to ensure that women of colour, working class women and disabled women see themselves reflected in this party and know they can lead this movement.”

“I think that sometimes in order to lead, you have to get out of the way. (White men, are you listening?),” she said.

Walker also pointed to the “despair” felt around Brexit and warned that “kinder, gentler” politics is achieved by representation of marginalised people, not “discussions among established politicians about what ‘the people’ want.”

Walker was elected leader last March with an overwhelming 90% of the vote and has quit before her five-year term is up.

She lost out on the London mayorship in 2016, and in the 2017 general election stood to become MP for Shipley, but lost to Conservative MP and men’s rights activist Philip Davies.

The party’s founders, Sandi Toksvig and Catherine Mayer, said they were “hugely sorry” to see Walker go.

“Sophie is an extraordinary communicator and has the kind of vision and passion for a better future that is sorely lacking from mainstream politics,” they added.

“She brought into the party and into politics perspectives that are vital and in far too short supply.

“She shone in both campaigns, even as she endured online attacks that sometimes spilled over into real-life hostilities.”