Women's Day Off
In April 2016 Women’s Equality Party co-founder Catherine Mayer returned from a fact-finding trip to Iceland obsessed with an idea. WE should organise a Women’s Day Off. Head of Policy Halla Gunnarsdottir enthusiastically agreed.
The original Women’s Day Off was held in Halla’s home country, Iceland, in 1975. Ninety percent of the female population took the day off from paid and unpaid work in order to demonstrate the value of their labour. There was an immediate effect and a longer-term benefit: sexist attitudes became unacceptable overnight. Understanding that gender equality is also better for them, men began pushing for change too.
WE are orgainsing the Women’s Day Off in 2018 to coincide with the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, the Act that gave some women in the UK the vote.
That date was also chosen to reflect the intricate planning needed for a Day Off on the scale of Iceland’s. WE want all women who wish to do so to be able to participate. WE know many women have caring duties or are in low-paid jobs where they will not be easily permitted time off or may not be paid if they take it. The NHS would collapse without female staff. Iceland’s Day Off worked because employers and unions supported it.
In a world galvanised by recent events into a new spirit of activism, WE were part of the team behind the Women’s March on London on 21 January, when over 100,000 women, men and children took to the streets in a show of global solidarity against racism, sexism and misogyny.
WE welcome the call by the organisers of the Women’s March in the US for “A Day Without Women” on March 8 of this year. WE will march together on International Women’s Day as we march every day to make gender equality a reality.
WE look forward to working with the Women’s Marches and with anyone who wants to get involved for the 2018 Day Off. In 1975 a single day kick-started the process that made Iceland the world’s most gender equal country. Let’s build a Day Off in 2018 that catapults England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to the top of the gender equality tables.
With your help, this is going to be huge. And WE will help you to take action: keep an eye out for details of our activist training programme launching very soon.
Women’s Equality amendment has widest cross-party support in Article 50 debate
This week marked a step change in support for gender equality in Parliament, as an amendment WE tabled to Theresa May’s Article 50 legislation together with the Green Party received the widest cross-party support of any amendment to the government bill. The amendment, that seeks protections for women’s employment rights and ensures Parliament’s future sovereignty over equality legislation currently enacted through regulatory framework that falls outside its influence, received unprecedented cross-party support and was signed immediately by MPs from Labour, the SNP, Liberal Democrats, the SDLP and Plaid Cymru.
“In a week in which we’ve seen a Trump administration take executive action to roll back fundamental rights, it’s more important than ever to ensure we are protected against a bonfire of rights at home. Women have had to rely on the EU regulatory framework and the European Court of Justice to safeguard equal rights at work. Hard Brexit could mean the rolling back of those hard-won rights unless urgent action is taken to ensure responsibility remains in the hands of our Parliament to lead the way towards a more equal Britain” said Sophie Walker.
Notification of withdrawal from the EU kick starts a process that results in regulations, or so-called secondary law, being demoted to executive control, including employment and equality legislation. This means that changes to women’s rights, such as protections for pregnant workers, can be achieved without parliamentary scrutiny and oversight.
“We are talking about protecting rights for part-time workers and breastfeeding mothers. We need to safeguard the rights for parents to return to work after parental leave and to make sure pregnant women who work night shifts are not put at risk. If we are leaving the EU then it is only right that our parliament is afforded oversight of this vital legislation,” Walker said.
“The European Court of Justice has repeatedly had to challenge the decisions of our legislators, such as when UK courts ruled that pregnancy discrimination was not sex discrimination. It is essential that these decisions are transparent, and that our politicians are accountable to the people should they attempt to roll back women’s hard won rights.”
Caroline Lucas MP said:
“I’m pleased to have worked with the Women’s Equality Party on this amendment guaranteeing Parliamentary sovereignty over equality rights that are currently protected through secondary legislation. I urge MPs to add their names to this crucial amendment to ensure that the Brexit process doesn’t mean that the clock is turned back on gender equality.”
Dr Charlotte O’Brien, Senior Lecturer at York University said:
“Vital employment and equality rights are contained in secondary provisions. That means that two years from notification the executive could have a bonfire of rights even without a Great Repeal Bill, unless we replace the oversight of the EU legislature with that of Parliament.“
Sophie Walker added that the Women’s Equality Party would continue working with other political parties to ensure Brexit does not turn back the clock on gender equality. “We will insist that new laws and new trade deals are subject to intense scrutiny so that they serve to build up a more gender equal UK, rather than increasing inequalities.”
On 21 January WE marched across the UK in our tens of thousands, in the biggest mass mobilisation for women's equality in history.
You joined the march. Now join the movement. Together, WE take women's equality from protest to power.
The Women’s Equality Party: Women's March Mission Statement
WE are the Women’s Equality Party and WE defend the rights of women of all backgrounds, beliefs, ethnicities and experiences in order that all may have a voice and so that our country may flourish as women enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men.
WE march on Saturday to reject the rhetoric of division and hate and the rise of xenophobia in this country and around the world. Racism and sexism threaten to roll back hard-won freedoms and halt progress in areas where there is still so much to do.
WE march together because our future and our inequalities are inextricably bound. Unless our future is shaped by the voices of all women – including BAME women, migrant women, disabled women, working class women and LGBTQ+ women – everyone will be poorer for it.
WE march to reclaim our democracy and bring the interests of all women into the political space because the inequalities we face are different, and where our inequalities intersect they magnify to such an extent that nothing short of a movement will dismantle them.
Our March Goals
WE demand an end to violence against women and reject any form of politics that normalises assault and harassment. We view any form of violence against us, including any attack on our reproductive rights, as an attack on our freedom and a step towards curtailing our participation in society, politics and the economy. And so WE say that the UK government must ratify the Istanbul Convention and provide sufficient and sustainable funding for prevention, protection, prosecution and provision of specialist services.
WE demand equal access to work and to worker’s rights. The process of Brexit must not ignore equal pay, shared parental leave, affordable childcare, flexible working or equal access to work. WE say that trade deals must be based on an understanding of how they affect women and men and deliver economic and social good for the whole country. WE say that the value of women’s paid and unpaid work must be recognised through the provision of sufficient and sustainable public services.
WE demand an immigration system that sees women and values their contribution to our economy and to our society – a system that doesn’t trap women in a state of dependency or penalise those who care for their children or relatives. WE will never accept a system and set of priorities that refuses women fleeing violence access to vital services or locks up pregnant women or survivors of torture and gender based violence.
WE demand an equal education system for the next generation so that all girls of all backgrounds may have equal opportunities for future careers and creativity according to the scope of their ambition rather than limited gender stereotypes. WE insist on mandatory sex and relationships education that supports children to understand consent and respect for one another, whatever their sexual orientation.
WE demand equal representation in politics so that our government may go forward to make decisions about our future with an understanding of the different experiences and needs of women. WE say that all political parties must urgently ensure parity of representation for women, including BAME women and disabled women, so that women’s voices are heard as we steer the United Kingdom through a period of unparallelled uncertainty.
WE have been pushing for the Istanbul Convention to be ratified by Parliament since our party began. The time has come to double our efforts as we ask MPs to stand up for women’s rights.
The Third Reading will take place in the House of Commons on Friday 24 February 2017. Let's make sure the bill is passed - a major step towards ratfying the Convention.
In December, our members and supporters lobbied their MPs and 135 showed up and voted in favour of the most significant legal frameworks for tackling violence against women and girls.
Now for one final push!
We need 100 MPs to turn up to move the bill to next stage.
This legislation is needed because on average two women in England and Wales are killed every week by a current or former male partner, and at least one in five women have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.
The UK government signed a commitment to seeing through the Convention five years ago, but the government has failed to honour its promise. In that time, 616 women have lost their lives to gender-based violence.
WE need your support - act before 24 February
10 November is Equal Pay Day - the day after which women in the UK effectively work for free, because of the gender pay gap. Let's make this year's the last...
The Women’s Equality Party is ‘celebrating’ Equal Pay Day again with a current estimate that it will take us until 2069 at the current rate of progress to close the pay gap. No thanks! WE say it’s time for a new approach instead.
WE want equal pay NOW – time for a #TripleWhammy
“The UK’s 19 per cent pay gap is so entrenched because it’s matched by a productivity gap of 20 percent compared to other G7 countries, and the most expensive childcare in the Western world,” said Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party.
“For women to have equal pay in Britain we need to widen the conversation. This isn’t just about discrimination via your sexist boss; this is about discrimination via an education system that still encourages boys into highly-paid STEM careers and girls into clerical or caring roles with lower economic output, and via a society that pushes women out of the workplace when they become carers.”
“That can’t be fixed by limited legislation on equal pay. What we need is a triple whammy: a new, three-part approach to tackle a three-part problem and knock inequality out of the park.”
To make this Equal Pay Day the last one we have to mark, our #TripleWhammy approach includes:
Deal with workplace discrimination by insisting companies publish pay data that’s broken down by gender, ethnicity and disability as well as by pay, employment status and working hours and includes retention rates during and after parental leave.
Remodel our education system so that girls get an equal education too. All schools conduct a gender audit of their curriculum to ensure they are promoting role models that challenge gender stereotypes and offering quality, independent careers guidance that encourages girls to do science and boys to think creatively.
Invest in childcare. By moving to a single rate of pension tax relief at 25 percent WE can fund a £6.5 billion investment in childcare that would take average weekly costs down from £115 to £10. Also introducing shared parental leave that enables men to take time off work by breaking down cultural barriers and financial ones. So fathers get non-transferable 6 weeks of parental leave at 90 percent of pay.
“WE believe our plan will appeal to voters who want equal pay in this lifetime - not the next,” said Walker.
WE are showing the power of our collaborative approach, joining with leaders from all the UK’s major political parties to call for change on equal pay.
#NoSizeFitsAll challenges the fashion industry’s approach to body image and the impact this has on professional models and more widely on all women and girls.
Politics is stalling. WE are the start-up.
WE stand for every woman, and we start by listening. What do you want?
In 1996, The Women’s Communication Centre distributed postcards in banks, libraries, cafes and community centres across the UK asking women one simple question: “What do you want?”
Ten thousand women responded. The answers offered unprecedented insights into women’s thoughts, opinions and needs, and had a significant impact on the gender debate at the time. The project changed the political landscape and policy agenda, and fed into equalities legislation.
WE are doing it all over again.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this historic survey, WE are partnering with What Women Want 2.0, asking 'What do you want?' to a new generation of women. We will also hear from the women who responded in 1996 to understand what, if anything, has changed for them.
WE are offering women across the UK a blank space on which to share the realities of their lived experience. And WE will listen carefully to every response.
At a turning point in national politics, the views and experiences of British women are vital for shaping the UK’s next steps, yet recent debate has largely left women at the margins.
As the larger political parties continue to fumble over the “women question”, WE know that it’s much more straightforward: we ask them.
Make e-Quality a reality
On Monday (13 June) Parliament will debate the Policing and Crime Bill. Together with the Liberal Democrats, WE are putting forward amendments to protect victims of revenge porn.
Help make this a win for women.
What is revenge porn?
Revenge porn is the publication of explicit material portraying someone who has not consented for the image or video to be shared. Once images start circulating online, it is difficult to bring an end to the abuse. Often the posts include private information including the victim’s name, links to social media profiles, telephone numbers and addresses. Anonymous harassers then spread the material to further humiliate the victim.
Ninety per cent of victims of revenge porn are women. Nearly all of these women suffer significant emotional distress, and many are faced with further harassment and stalking.
What is the Women’s Equality Party doing about it?
WE are calling for improvements to the current law to prevent revenge porn and help victims get justice. Together with the Liberal Democrats, WE are calling for:
anonymity for victims to empower them to seek justice
compensation for victims
protection from those who promote, solicit or profit from revenge porn
WE are also monitoring the impact of the new Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 and WE are working with experts across the UK and in the US to design legislative proposals to tackle the epidemic scale of online abuse against women and girls.
What can I do about it?
You can immediately help us put an end to revenge pornography by encouraging your local MP to support our cross-party amendments. Use our email template to contact your MP this weekend ahead of the vote on Monday 13 June. Alternatively, you can tweet your local MP:
.@[INSERT TWITTER HANDLE OF YOUR LOCAL MP] @WEP_UK help put an end to #revengeporn by supporting amendment NC 46/47/61/62 to policing and crime bill #CtrlAltDelete
If you have been affected by revenge porn, contact the Revenge Porn Helpline from 10.00am - 4.00pm Monday to Friday on 0845 6000 459. Emails can be sent at any time to firstname.lastname@example.org.
#WEcount is a campaign to reclaim Britain’s streets for women, UK-wide. WE launched the nationwide campaign following a highly successful London-based campaign in March, when the city’s women posted on social media and an interactive map to mark their experiences of violence, harassment and assault.
“WE are now extending #WEcount across the UK so that women right across the country can make their voices heard and say: this must stop,” said Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party and its London Mayoral candidate.
"WE are asking our supporters to post photos of their hands on social media with the hashtag #WEcount, showing a postcode or place where they have experienced sexual harassment, assault or verbal abuse. Alternatively, they can email their photos to WEcount@womensequality.emailnb.com to be posted anonymously.”
The campaign also includes a film featuring Pavan Amara, who built the “My Body Back” project after being attacked and has helped hundreds of women who have been assaulted to reclaim their lives.
“Thousands of women experience unwanted sexual behaviour every day, and harassment is on the rise,” said Walker. “Our streets are not safe. WE will show this by live mapping the locations where women report having experienced catcalling, flashing, verbal abuse, harassment and physical assault.”
Women can mark their experiences on an interactive map of the UK by dropping a Google-maps-style pin. In London, this map was on display for one week on a dedicated billboard at Westfield shopping centre, Shepherd’s Bush.
And in a digital first, the campaign will be brought to life for Londoners with the use of a new visual browsing app, BlippAR.
WE have painted 10 physical markers – which show the Google maps pin transformed into an exclamation mark – at locations around the capital, from the Houses of Parliament to Parliament Hill. People who ‘Blipp’ the mark will receive a host of content and information about the campaign, as well as details of what support is available.
Walker added: “An estimated 400,000 sexual offences against women occur in the UK each year. Despite their frequency, the majority of these incidents are unreported, and women are left feeling unsafe and unable to walk without fear on their own streets. WE want to reclaim our streets.”
“WE are the only party who are making the sexual abuse and harassment of women a political priority. WE will show that women right across the UK are affected by this every day – and that every one of us counts.”
A list of organisations that offer support to survivors of sexual assault can be found here >>
If you are affected by these issues, you can click here for details of support services.