The Women’s Equality Party has launched a bold and radical manifesto for the European Parliament elections. WE are running not to build barriers but to BREAK them, not just to remain but to ADVANCE.
Our vision across Europe is to establish more equal societies which are happier, healthier and wealthier. WE will work to raise women across Europe out of poverty and create a permanent citizen’s assembly for the EU to put social policy on a par with economic policy. WE will develop a Care Workers' Passport to deliver the best health and social care services across Europe. WE will make reproductive rights a precondition to EU accession so that all women can access free, safe and legal abortion, and WE will work to make Europe the first continent free from human trafficking.
WE will collaborate with feminist groups all across Europe. Together WE will work to ensure women’s equality is always a priority and push for the best policies to be enacted as European law. WE are standing for a better Europe and we also recognise the urgency of fighting for the rights and protections that flow from EU membership.
To achieve this, WE have set out transformative policies that will ensure that equality is recognised as the key to a vibrant economy and society:
Equal pay and opportunity
The EU has brought down so many barriers for women. A humble commitment to “promote equality between women and men” contained in the 1957 Treaty of Amsterdam allowed us to imagine a world in which women were not only free from discrimination, but equal to men.
At the heart of that commitment was equal pay for work of equal value. Of course, it was the sewing machinists at Ford Dagenham who made it possible for women in the UK to earn the same wage as men with the same job. But the subsequent change in UK law didn’t extend to equivalent jobs (work rated as equivalent in terms of the demands made on workers). When you live in a country where employment is still divided according to gender roles, where women are still funnelled into low-paid care work, where shop assistants can be paid less than warehouse workers and cleaners less than bin collectors, equivalence matters just as much. The UK government refused to recognise this, so the European Commission took them to court and won, forcing an expansion of our Equal Pay Act.
- Remain: WE will ensure future equality and human rights protections under the EU are fully translated into UK law and that existing protections cannot easily be removed.
- Advance: WE will work with feminist parties across Europe to push for the radical expansion of women’s rights, including for women outside the formal economy.
If you vote for the Women’s Equality Party:
- WE will halve the gender pay gap by 2025 by implementing truly shared parental leave across the EU member states.
- WE will ensure equal representation of women across politics, business and working life
Free movement of services
The Brexit debate has from the very beginning been framed in terms of the concerns of the men who have dominated it: jobs, business and trade. Little has been said about vital issues such as health, education and social care that matter to everyone—including to the half of the population seldom heard during the debate. The old parties have focused on protecting the free movement of goods produced by manufacturing (a far smaller sector of our economy), rather than people or services.
- Remain: WE are committed to staying in the flourishing single market.
- Advance: WE will push for greater integration of services within the EU.
- If you vote for the Women’s Equality Party: WE will create a care workers’ passport to deliver the best health and social care services across Europe and a workforce that is valued for this vital work.
A feminist foreign policy
The European Union is founded on the recognition that peace can only be secured by working together with partners to promote international co-operation, democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Soft power—a commitment to negotiation, the exercise of diplomacy and leading by example—has underpinned those aims.
The global political landscape has altered significantly since the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize seven years ago. Partners with whom we shared common values including the preservation of the rule of law, the protection of human rights and the protection of the environment, are now moving in a different direction. They are building walls, not bridges. The EU is striving to build up its collective military power. The UK should not break away from its closest neighbours, but work with other European feminist parties towards the EU adoption of a truly feminist foreign policy agenda, committed to peace and equality for all.
- Remain: WE are committed to the peace project which the EU has at its heart. WE believe in a forward- and outward-looking internationalism, tackling global inequalities and working collaboratively to take action on humanitarian crises, conflict resolution and development.
- Advance: WE will push for EU foreign policy to move away from militarism and to establish equality along with peace and security as Europe’s primary foreign policy goals, because inequality is the root of most conflict and without peace and security there is no prosperity for anyone.
- If you vote for the Women’s Equality Party: WE will ensure that full consideration is given to the impact of EU foreign policy on women as well as making gender equality a fundamental guiding principle of our external relations.
Fair and compassionate immigration policies
Immigrants are net contributors to the British economy, but in the UK and across Europe immigration has been weaponised to divert attention from governments’ failures to address falling living standards and rising inequalities. All immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers must be treated with respect and compassion, not suspicion. Rules governing economic immigration are almost always based on income and assets thresholds, and judgement about skilled occupations, all of which combine to discriminate against women—across the EU women earn on average 16.2 percent less than men. Freedom of movement across the EU has removed many of these barriers for women, and European immigrants have contributed enormously to our economy and to our vital social infrastructure.
- Remain: WE believe in freedom of movement, value the contributions of EU citizens to the UK, and cherish the rights of women from the UK to travel across borders to work and live in EEA countries.
- Advance: WE will ensure that the contributions women make through unpaid care of children and relatives are acknowledged and valued, and WE will push for more compassionate immigration policies for non-EEA countries.
- If you vote for the Women’s Equality Party: WE will never allow gaps in women’s formal employment in order to undertake unpaid care risk their immigration status as workers. WE will push for harmonised immigration policies that incentivise immigration for health and social care, and WE will end the use of detention centres for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants.
Women at the heart of avoiding a climate catastrophe
There is a global climate emergency and neither the UK’s nor the EU’s current targets are sufficient to keep global warming to the levels needed to avoid irreversible catastrophe. Global warming is not delineated by national borders, but the impacts of global warming are felt very differently between nations and between people within nations. Two-thirds of the world's poorest adults are women. Those living in the 'global south' have contributed the least to greenhouse emissions but are already experiencing the worst effects of the relentless pursuit of economic growth without regard for its impact on the planet or its inhabitants.
- Remain: Climate change is a global challenge that requires multilateral solutions and nation states to hold each other to account for setting and meeting emissions targets.
- Advance: WE will work with partners to put the people most impacted by climate change at the heart of the EU strategy to stop a climate catastrophe.
- If you vote for the Women’s Equality Party: WE will work with women on the front line of communities most affected by climate change to advise the EU on targets, funding and actions to stop global warming rising above 1.5°C and to mitigate the worst effects of the damage already done.
A New Social Deal
The European project has lost its way. For decades the EU has argued that economic growth is the cornerstone of the fight against poverty, social exclusion and inequality, when growth that primarily benefits only a small number of individuals and organisations has in fact been a driver of inequality. At the same time, the distance between citizens and the EU’s political institutions has widened and populism has filled the space. The result is that in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis the European Union did nothing to stop national governments inflicting an austerity agenda on ordinary people. Women and minorities paid the biggest price.
In the UK, as in other EU countries, this was the inevitable outcome of the systemic exclusion of the perspectives and lived experiences of people in these demographics, and of paying little heed to the deep research and hard analysis showing everyone is worse off as a result. Legislation is being drafted and decisions made without any real understanding of the impact on people’s lives. The UK’s electoral system, designed for stability, instead preserves a failing status quo. Media in the UK and across Europe too often confirm rather than challenge bias, unconscious and otherwise.
The answer is a New Social Deal that addresses the democratic deficit while devising and promoting solutions to wider challenges.
- Remain: WE are committed to preserving existing rights and protections, such as equal pay for work of equal value.
- Advance: WE will seek to re-balance the economic and social policies of the European Union, so that both spheres can flourish.
- If you vote for the Women’s Equality Party: WE will create a citizens’ assembly for the EU to decide on social policies to be applied across member states, including how to ensure all citizens enjoy the fruits of economic activity, how to harmonise citizen’s rights and which quality services to expand.
Ending violence against women across the EU
Regressive populism across the UK and EU promotes a politics of hatred and division targeting women and minorities. Reproductive rights have already been curtailed in Poland, in Italy and in Austria, while hard right leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orbán stoke hostility towards minority communities. The majority of people trafficked across Europe are women trafficked for sexual exploitation. WE stand with women across the EU and globally to defend and advance women’s rights and to be free from all forms of violence.
- Remain: WE recognise that trafficking is a transnational crime that requires close co-operation and a multilateral response. WE stand with women across the EU fighting the rollback of our reproductive rights, and WE believe in the strength of unity of women across the EU.
- Advance: WE will assert and enshrine women’s right to be free from violence across the EU; define and implement obligatory standards for any countries seeking EU accession; and work with the EU parliament to tackle the violation of women trafficked for sexual exploitation.
- If you vote for the Women’s Equality Party: WE will ratify the Istanbul Convention, decriminalise abortion and implement a EU-wide sex buyer’s law to end demand for trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation.
Using data and data-driven technologies to advance equality
The interplay between analogue laws and evolving digital technologies poses a clear threat to European democracies. The UK’s National Crime Agency is investigating whether crimes were committed during the June 2016 referendum. There are also concerns around the extensive microtargeting of voters during the run-up to the vote that meant individuals were shown political messages tailored to their inferred political leanings and psychological profiles. New and evolving technologies are affecting many other areas of life too. Some of them, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence or AI, also risk reflecting, and therefore reinforcing, inequalities. Economic models are being turned on their heads as national governments struggle to comprehend profound changes that respect no borders.
WE believe these challenges can only be resolved through multilateral co-operation. WE also recognise the potential of such technologies for illuminating the scale and nature of the inequalities experienced by women and minorities—and delineating those inequalities is a first step to transforming our world for the better. WE will work to unlock the enormous positive potential of data-driven technologies.
- Remain: WE are better able to address the challenges and realise the opportunities of data-driven technology as a member of the EU, working with other member countries and the multiple stakeholders concerned.
- Advance: WE will harness responsible technology to speed progress to equality.
- If you vote for the Women’s Equality Party: WE will work to boost data literacy across the EU, invest in initiatives that use data and AI for good, establish an EU-wide gender statistics audit, examine the gendered impacts of automation and promote a STEAM approach to education—understanding that technologists benefit from a grounding in humanities and humanity as well as science—that gives all children an equal chance to realise their potential and build our future.
Our voices are needed in the European Parliament, now more than ever. And WE need your votes and support now more than ever too, if you are keen to help us enact these policies please join and support our campaign today and let's #BreakBarriers together!