Sophie Walker argues that women's lived experiences are not being represented by mainstream politics
Treating sanitary products as luxury items is an obvious form of discrimination. Women should not be taxed for having periods and so, unsurprisingly, I support the campaign for an end to the ‘tampon tax’ and regret that the Commons rejected this week’s move to get rid of it.
But the debate has raised some really important questions about the position of women in our democracy. Why is talking about periods in parliament still a noteworthy event? Why do our elected leaders feel uncomfortable using words like tampon?
Women’s lived experience is not represented or understood by our overwhelmingly male politicians; it’s seen as irrelevant, embarrassing, frivolous. Basic necessities are seen as luxuries and critically important issues are simply not discussed.
I’m proud that my party’s recent policy document highlights that poor understanding of the experience of menopause (an even scarier word than tampon!) may reinforce the workplace discrimination experienced by women over 50.
And I’m glad that, even if the tampon tax has survived this round, the House of Commons has finally been forced to take the issue seriously.
But we need a deeper change. Women’s unique experiences of work, healthcare, crime and education and not being heard, and much of our legislation is lacking and ineffective as a result.
WE have proposed a clear plan to achieve a gender-balanced parliament by 2025. Please join us, and help get it done.