Caucuses are groups of members who share protected characteristics and choose to organise together to further the interests of their members, and to make our work and the change we achieve truly intersectional. They raise the visibility of their members’ needs and experiences, and campaign to dismantle structural inequalities both inside and outside the party. Their activities will vary according to their own priorities and could include anything from increasing the diversity of our candidates and making our events more accessible, to proposing policy ideas for our manifestos or leading campaigns.
A maximum of seven groups may be formally recognised as Women’s Equality Party caucuses for:
- Sexual orientation and gender reassignment
- Disability and chronic illness
- Socio-economic status*
- Marriage/civil partnership
They will each be allocated a seat on the Steering Committee, with a maximum of three seats being filled in 2022. Each caucus will work at the intersection of discrimination against women and the protected characteristic(s) they represent. They will represent all WE members who have a minority characteristic within their protected characteristic(s) - for example, a ‘sexual orientation and gender reassignment caucus’ would not be expected to represent the interests of heterosexual members.
Some groups won’t meet the criteria or wish to become a caucus, and they will instead be given the opportunity to gain recognition as advocacy groups. Advocacy groups won’t be endorsed by the party or given a seat on the Steering Committee, but they will have the chance to meet with and represent their ideas to the Steering Committee, along with other benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions - Recognised Groups
Q: How do I get involved?
A: If your group is interested in being recognised as a caucus or advocacy group, please contact [email protected]. If you would like to join a caucus or contact an advocacy group, watch this space! Once groups have been recognised, we will update our website with the relevant information.
Q: How was this policy developed?
A: A motion was passed at conference to enable the representatives of recognised caucuses to become full members of the Steering Committee, and for the Steering Committee to set the criteria for how a group can become recognised as a caucus. The Steering Committee consulted with the Policy Committee and created a sub-committee to develop a fair, simple and workable policy for achieving this.
Q: What is the difference between caucuses and advocacy groups?
A: Caucuses are limited in number and represent different protected characteristics than advocacy groups. They are expected to represent a broader set of issues and identities than advocacy groups, and they are endorsed by the party. For that reason different requirements and benefits have been proposed. For example, a caucus is required to have a minimum of 35 members to gain recognition, while an advocacy group only has to have five, and a recognised caucus is entitled to a seat on the Steering Committee, while advocacy groups are instead given the opportunity to present to the Steering Committee.
Q: Why is there a cap on the number of caucuses that can be recognised?
A: It would not be workable to have a policy allowing limitless seats to be created on the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is already a large body (24 seats) and the practicalities of governance need to be considered.
Q: Why is sex not included as one of the protected characteristics around which a caucus may form?
A: Campaigning for women’s equality is the mission of the party as a whole and of all groups within it. The aim of this policy is to strengthen the party’s work to tackle discrimination at the intersections of women’s identities. On that basis the Steering Committee felt that all caucuses should be required to work at the intersection of discrimination against women and discrimination on grounds of the protected characteristic(s) they represent. A caucus based solely on the protected characteristic of sex would not be an intersectional caucus.
Q: Why is socio-economic status included as a protected characteristic?
A: At our 2020 party conference, a motion was passed calling on the Westminster government to update the Equality Act (2010) to include ‘socio economic status’ as a protected characteristic. The Steering Committee therefore felt that our caucus policy should reflect that.
Q: Why is religion and belief not included as one of the protected characteristics around which a caucus may form?
A: Because it is too broad and complex to allow one caucus to represent all aspects of that characteristic, especially as some beliefs may be in direct opposition (eg theisms vs atheism). And it would not be workable to have a policy allowing limitless seats to be created on the Steering Committee. Instead it is proposed that groups representing a religion or belief may be recognised as advocacy groups.
Q: Didn’t the motion require that all protected characteristics be given a seat?
A: The rationale for the motion suggested that any caucus that gains recognition should represent a protected characteristic, which is what our policy requires.
Q: Why do caucuses need to have 35 members?
A: The Steering Committee has tried to strike a balance between the requirements for elected Steering Committee members (who are typically elected by a minimum of 600 members) and the fact that caucuses exist to champion underrepresented groups. Requiring 35 members is a compromise that requires each caucus to demonstrate that it has recruited sufficient recognition and support within the party.
Q: Can the status of caucuses or advocacy groups be revoked?
A: A breach of criteria could lead to derecognition at the reasonable discretion of the Women’s Equality Party Executive Committee. Any such decision would be subject to review by members at party conference.
Q: Why don’t we endorse advocacy groups?
A: Advocacy Groups mobilise to influence party policy, and party policy is voted on by members at conference. It is also possible that two or more Advocacy Groups will form to represent oppositional beliefs, and the party cannot endorse both.