The Women’s Equality Party was co-founded by author and journalist Catherine Mayer and broadcaster and author Sandi Toksvig.
On 2 March 2015 Catherine proposed founding a Women’s Equality Party during a debate on women in politics held as part of the Women of the World (WOW) Festival at the Southbank Centre in London. She rang Sandi the next day to seek Sandi's support - which was when Sandi told her that she'd intended to propose exactly the same thing, as part of the closing night festivities at the WOW Festival. They immediately agreed to work together.
The first meeting of the emerging party took place at the Southbank Centre on 28 March, and a second meeting was held at Conway Hall on 18 April, agreeing the party’s name and six core objectives.
WE opened for membership on 3 July 2015 with a special Founding Membership drive to cover start-up costs including the tools and structures to establish the party, administer memberships and donations and prepare to campaign.
On 22 July 2015, WE announced our leader: Sophie Walker. Sophie was chosen unanimously by the Steering Committee of the party's founders to lead the party through its formation phase ahead of a leadership election by the members next year.
Sophie is a journalist, blogger, marathon runner and autism campaigner. “A lifetime of experiences made me want to do this’, she says. “I realised the other day that I’m having exactly the same conversations with my friends that my mother was having with her friends in the Seventies. I look at my daughters (age 13 and 6) and think I really don’t want them to be the third generation having those conversations."
WE launched our first policy statement on 20 October 2015 - extending the Founding Membership scheme to 24 October to allow everyone the chance to be part of building this exciting new political party.
In May 2016 WE stood in our very first election campaign – fielding candidates in Glasgow, Lothian, South Wales Central and London, with Sophie Walker running for Mayor. In total, across all 4 areas, WE won 352,322 votes. Sophie Walker scoped an impressive 5.2% of the total votes in the London Mayoral race, beating George Galloway and following close on the heels of UKIP’s 6.6 percent. With both first and second rounds counted, Sophie won 251,775 votes – that’s 1 in 20 of every person who voted in the London Mayoral election.
Following the election results, WE Leader Sophie Walker said, “This has been an extraordinary first year. We have four to go until 2020. Equality for women can’t wait. And neither will WE.”