Women in Northern Ireland are still denied access to abortions in almost all circumstances. Reproductive rights are human rights and our Government has a duty to act to ensure that every women in the UK has the right to choose free, safe and legal abortions.
As we speak out against the rise of regressive populism across the globe we cannot ignore the persecution of Northern Irish women on our doorstep. We must stand together against moves to curtail women’s reproductive rights and to keep pushing for full decriminalisation of abortion everywhere.
Thanks to the work of Stella Creasy, reproductive rights organisations and cross party MPs the Government is empowered to act to uphold the human rights of Northern Irish women - lets keep up the pressure to ensure that they use this power.
Across the whole of the UK our right to access abortion is much more fragile than it seems.
Under the current law in England, Wales and Scotland a woman who ends her own pregnancy without the permission of two doctors can be sentenced to life imprisonment.
WE are demanding that the Government acts now to decriminalise abortion and uphold Northern Irish women’s right to access free, safe and legal abortions.
Sign our petition today to guarantee women’s right to choose across the whole of the UK.
WE are calling on Parliament to amend the Recall of MPs Act 2015, to give the public the power to recall their MPs in cases where they have been found guilty of violence or harassment by the Independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Add your signature to our open letter to parliament below.
Last week, Conservative MP Mark Field was captured on film aggressively pushing peaceful Greenpeace activist Janet Barker against a pillar and grabbing her by the neck.
He has been temporarily suspended from his role as a Foreign Office minister while an investigation into his conduct takes place but will continue to represent his constituents in parliament and vote on legislation that affects women’s lives.
Violent people have no place in Parliament. Constituents should have the power to trigger a by-election where their MP has assaulted someone.
At present, constituents can only recall their MP if they are convicted of an offence and receive a custodial sentence; banned from the House of Commons for ten sitting days (a period longer than that possible for a single offence); or convicted of providing misleading information for allowance claims under the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009.
Field is only the latest in a string of MPs who have been accused of committing acts of aggression, harassment or assault against women while in public office, and yet not one of these men have lost their job as an MP.
Former MP Fiona Onasanya lost her Peterborough seat for lying about a speeding offence and Chris Davies lost his Brecon and Radnorshire seat for falsely claiming office decorations on his expenses. However, the fourteen MPs accused of harassment, violence or rape during the Pestminster scandal continue to sit in parliament, as does Mark Field - despite attacking a woman on camera.
An MP can only be recalled for assault if they receive a Custodial sentence. However, prison sentences for crimes involving violence against women are notoriously hard to secure. Only 1.7 percent of rapes reported to police in England and Wales result in a charge, while perpetrators of assault are often let off with a fine.
The lack of accountability in Westminster is unacceptable. At a time when one in five people working there has reportedly experienced harassment, this failure to act on violent behaviour sends a strong message that politics is not for women.
It is vital that constituents be given greater powers to hold their representatives to account when they exhibit violent behaviour. Mark Field grabbed a woman by the throat. The public should be able to send the message loud and clear that men like this do not represent us.
The Conservative MPs have selected their final two contenders from whom its party members will elect our next Prime Minister. Whoever wins WE know one thing: women have already lost.
Britain’s next Prime Minister will be chosen by just 160,000 people - a tiny proportion of the electorate. Those people are 71 percent male, 97 percent white, 86 percent middle class and have an average age of 57.
The people who will vote to choose our next Prime Minister do not represent our country. Nor do either of the candidates on offer.
Boris Johnson was such a liability as Foreign Secretary that his own team kept him under wraps. The Tories don’t believe he is the best man to deliver Brexit, they don’t believe he is the best person to save our country. They are supporting him to save the Conservative party. Self-interest is at the heart of this race and the men left in it have it in spades.
Sign our petition to let the government know that whoever wins this boy’s club contest, the new Prime Minister does not speak for us.
Just as he did with UKIP, the leader of the Brexit Party has shaken the Conservatives with his simple anti-EU, anti-immigrant rhetoric. Instead of responding with honesty about their failures the Tories are hedging their bets on their own “man of the people”, Boris Johnson. Those racist, sexist “slip-ups” are no accident: they are calculated to woo back voters from Farage.
The runner up might look safer in comparison. But neither of these men understand or care about women’s rights or equality.
Jeremy Hunt’s belief that the abortion term limit should be reduced to 12 weeks demonstrates his lack of respect for women and our bodily autonomy. His voting record shows up a belief that men in parliament, who outnumber women two to one, have the right to control women’s reproductive decisions. Boris Johnson has a history of objectifying women, from pinning up a topless calendar while working for the Telegraph in 1996, to referring to women volleyball players as “glistening like wet otters” as Mayor of London at the 2012 Olympics. These men do not see us as equals and they do not represent us.
This is a Public Cervix Announcement
Recent media coverage of the drop in cervical screening attendance has focused almost entirely on women’s embarrassment about their bodies.
It is true that relentless body-shaming of every part of women’s bodies affects the way we feel about ourselves, there are bigger causes of the 20-year low in screening attendance in England, Scotland and Wales, which are far less convenient for the governments.
The IT systems being used for screening programmes are out of date and not fit for purpose, resulting in letters being sent late and to the wrong women. And when women do try to book an appointment with a GP surgery, they are often only available between 9am and 5pm or come with long waiting times.
Specialist clinics support women at higher risk of cervical cancer and can offer extra support to those who can't access GP screening for a wide range of psychological, physical, cultural and literacy reasons, including survivors of sexual violence and FGM.
Health services in England have been carved up since the Health and Social Care Act 2012, with sexual health services handed to councils, facing funding cuts of up to 36 percent since 2014. Reintegrating sexual health services with the NHS in England would make it easier for women to choose where and when to have their screening.
There are some groups of women who face even greater barriers to accessing services:
One in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, but a survey by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found 61 percent of survivors said there was no support to help them prepare for the screening;
Lesbian, bisexual and gay women and trans men are not always informed by GPs that anyone with a cervix is at risk of cervical cancer
GP surgeries don’t always have the equipment needed for disabled women to access screenings
There is lower awareness of the need for screening among Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities. Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust found that a third more BAME women (12%) compared to white women (8%) said they had never attended a cervical screening appointment.
In some areas of the country sexual health services no longer offer cervical screening because they are not commissioned by the local council. In 2009/10 140,813 tests were taken in community clinics (sexual health services) and GUM services but this had dropped by shocking 60 percent to 56,347 in 2016/17. This means that medical professionals can be checking a woman’s sexual health and though qualified to do a cervical screening at the same time, are unable to because it is not funded by the council.
So with a spending review coming up this year, we are sending a message to the government to demand that our specialist sexual health services are funded properly and reintegrated with NHS services, that IT systems are addressed so appointment letters are sent to the right people, and that the government stops blaming women for its own failures.
This campaign is supported by:
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, a UK charity dedicated to women, their families and friends affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities.
The Eve Appeal, a UK charity raising awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers – womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal.
If you have any gynae-related questions, whether that’s talking about unusual vaginal discharge, the results of a pelvic examination or risks associated with hereditary cancers you can contact the Ask Eve gynae nurse service: a free, confidential service staffed by a specialist nurse - 0808 802 0019/ firstname.lastname@example.org
A few weeks ago Twenty five right wing men who will never experience pregnancy banned abortion in Alabama and now Louisiana has followed suit passing a bill banning abortions after a "fetal heartbeat" is detected — before many women even know they are pregnant.
Attacks on hard-won women’s rights are growing more prevalent the world over. On our doorstep women in Northern Ireland are denied event the most basic reproductive rights, facing potential prison sentences for having an abortion in almost all circumstances.
WE stand in solidarity with women in Northern Ireland, Alabama, Louisiana and globally against this horrific curtailment of women’s reproductive rights. It is time to take a stand.
Just as the global #metoo movement showed the strength of solidarity between women across national borders, we must stand together against these moves to curtail women’s reproductive rights and to keep pushing for free safe and legal access to abortion for every woman in the UK.
Sign our petition to the Government to demand it guarantees women’s rights to free, safe and legal abortions in Northern Ireland and across the UK.
The Women’s Equality Party calls on the government to act now to save our European workforce and protect vital health and social care services.
As Labour and the Tories wrangle endlessly about which version of Brexit they want, our NHS and social care systems are facing a vacancy crisis. Last year there was a ninety percent decline in the number of EU migrants coming to work in the NHS. There is now a shortage of more than 200,000 staff across NHS trusts and adult social care, and a staggering 30 percent of adult social care workers leave every year.
As many as 62,000 NHS staff and 104,000 adult social care workers are EU migrants, but with the uncertainty over their future status and rising hostility towards EU nationals, thousands of nurses are now leaving the UK, deepening the existing crisis. This situation will only worsen if Brexit goes ahead, ending the freedom of movement these workers -and so everyone in Britain -- relies on.
WE ARE FACING AN NHS VACANCY CRISIS. SIGN OUR PETITION TO PROTECT OUR NURSES AND CARE WORKERS’ RIGHT TO STAY
Some people will say this isn’t just about Brexit, and they’re right. Poor working conditions; the removal of training bursaries; bullying and harassment; and low pay, have all contributed to this crisis. It is shameful that in the fifth largest economy in the world, nurses are being forced to use food banks. We have to tackle the reasons the care system is haemorrhaging workers--not add another reason for them to leave.
WE are standing in the European elections because the EU is crucial to our NHS. Our candidate Dr Hannah Barham-Brown trained as a nurse when bursaries were available, she is now a GP Trainee and has witnessed the crisis first-hand.
“We were warned by UKIP in 2016 that we were at “breaking point” because too many immigrants were arriving. Well I am telling you today that we are at breaking point because too many migrants are leaving.” - Dr Hannah Barham-Brown
Over the last year, the number of EEA nurses and midwives arriving to work in the NHS was just 968 - a massive fall from the 9,389 that arrived the year before the Brexit referendum. Our NHS is facing a vacancy crisis, we need to act now to protect the rights of the migrant workers who keep it going. The Women’s Equality Party is proposing radical action to save our NHS and care services, by creating a centralised register of European care workers and standardising training and assessment so that their qualifications are recognised in every EEA country. WE commit to giving nurses, midwives and social care workers training bursaries, the right to permanent residence after three years (rather than five) and access to public funds.
WE ARE FACING AN NHS VACANCY CRISIS. ADD YOUR NAME TO PROTECT OUR NURSES AND CARE WORKERS’ RIGHT TO STAY
For our vision of an equal and flourishing EU, including plans for a new and transformative EU-wide Care Workers’ Passport, read our manifesto not just to remain in the EU, but to advance.
WE are calling on the government to reinstate nurse bursaries and commit to increasing nurses’ pay in line with inflation.
Nurses are the backbone of the NHS. They support their patients when it feels like the sky is falling in on them and do amazing work in the face of huge challenges.
But nurses are currently leaving the NHS in record numbers and fewer and fewer people are training to become nurses, because the low wages and immense pressure of the job mean it is simply not worth their while.
If you want to thank nurses this International Women’s Day - and help us fight for them to be valued - add your name to our petition. Together we can push the government to reinstate nurse bursaries and commit to increasing nurses’ pay in line with inflation.
WE are celebrating nurses because WE care about women and WE value the work women do. Show them that you do too by signing below.
Complete our healthcare quiz and add your voice to the thousands cheering for a fairer deal
Equal Pay Day is the day each year which marks the moment when women effectively stop being paid relative to men.
In 2018 it was the 10th of November.
The gender pay gap in the UK currently stands at 17.9%.
We don’t think men's work should be valued more highly than women's - so if we're not being paid, why should we work? Every year we ask women across the UK to set their Out of Offices messages to as a sign to the world that they won’t stand for this any longer.
In in the past two years, our Out of Office campaign reached billions of people, calling for real action on the gender pay gap. This year we want it to be even bigger.
Why does the pay gap exist?
The work women do, the industries they work in, and the caring responsibilities they generally shoulder are not valued by our society – not enough to pay them a fair wage. This is exactly what the Women’s Equality Party seeks to overturn.
We represent the women who are being paid unfairly and often not being paid at all – either for their domestic labour or care duties - or because they have been fired for getting pregnant.
Equal pay is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality and it creates the context for other inequalities, such as violence against women and girls and unequal access to health.
Though Equal Pay Day focuses on the full-time pay gap, WE always focus on the aggregate pay gap because it tells you more about the balance of power in our society.
The gap is even bigger for some women. For example, Black African women face a pay gap of 24%, while for Pakistani and Bangladeshi women it stands at 26.2%. Or women in their fifties, who face a pay gap of 26.6%. As for women with disabilities, it's impossible to know for sure as the data available is limited. What there is tends to compare disabled women with able bodied women, but does not scratch the surface of how this stacks up with able bodied men.
It’s long since time to chance this.
An NHS Midwife:
Laura Godfrey Isaacs: “As a midwife working in the NHS I will be Out of Office from November 10th in protest against unequal pay in all sectors, but particularly healthcare. Women make up over 77% of NHS staff, however 22% of men are doctors or dentists with only 5% women. A midwife earns only £19.21 per hour, which is 34% below the national average, however, we have one of the most responsible jobs in society looking after women and babies throughout the childbearing continuum. Midwifery is overwhelmingly a female profession, with only 0.3% male midwives, and alongside most of the caring professions our pay is low and our work undervalued.
A PHD Student at the University of Manchester:
Sarika Paul: "I work as a PhD Researcher at the University of Manchester. The pay gap across the institution is 17.1%. This means that for the duration of November and December, the women of Manchester University are effectively working for free - and this is before you begin to consider race or age or sexuality (or any other protected characteristic). The proportion of women entering post grad study remains largely gender balanced, though there are differences across subjects. This then means that there are systematic factors at play that result in the loss of women from high status academic roles, and the resulting pay gap seen across all staff members. It is crucial that both the university, and the academic world globally looks at ways of minimising these barriers to ensure that we don't lose talent along the "leaky pipeline" that so many treat as inevitable. This is why I am hanging up my labcoat for the rest of the year this Equal Pay Day.
*The Women’s Equality Party encourages anyone taking part in the campaign to discuss it with the management in their workplace. With the disadvantages the women face in the workplace already we don’t want to give any employers any excuses to isolate their women employees. Please use your discretion when taking part.
On July 14th 2018, President Trump made his way to London. WE gave him the welcome he deserved.
Since the Misogynist in Chief took office, he’s worked to dismantle women’s rights. Instead his hate and lies have galvanised and united women. In fact, after Trump was elected WE saw one of the biggest spikes in membership numbers in this Party's history and he continues to motivate new activists daily.
For all this effort, WE want to say thank you to the world's Number One Feminist Recruiter in style! So WE sent our thank you messages to the President on Twitter with our own specially designed e-cards using #ThankYouTrump, and we took to the streets in our thousands to give him the welcome he deserved.
WE pick our battles based on how much they matter, not how easy they are to win.
About the campaign
WE are campaigning to make abortion free, safe and legal in EVERY part of the UK.
Currently women in England, Scotland and Wales wishing to have an abortion still have to prove their pregnancy involves a bigger risk to their physical or mental health than terminating it. They still have to ask for permission from two doctors to end their pregnancy. They still risk prosecution.
In Northern Ireland, basic reproductive rights are so restricted that abortions are almost impossible to access. Abortions are only legal where the life or long-term physical/mental health of the person is at serious risk. There are no exceptions for rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormalities, and illegal abortion carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Nowhere in the United Kingdom do women enjoy full reproductive rights. This has to change and we are ready to lead that change.
WE are campaigning for full decriminalisation of abortion. WE are demanding that abortion be moved out of criminal law and into healthcare.
At our 2018 conference we will be joining our voices with the Northern Irish women and calling for Westminster to make this change its priority.
The Campaign so far
WE marked the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act with a week of action. We called for Amber Rudd to change this outdated and patronising law.
During the first week, more than four thousand people signed a permission slip, 186,000 people connected with our campaign on Twitter, and we held a packed-out rally in London at which Sophie Walker joined a line up of inspiring activist speakers to reflect on the past, present and future of reproductive rights in the UK.
And on Friday 27th Hastings members delivered 406,108 permission slips to the Home Secretary’s office. They represent the number of times women in the UK have had to seek consent for an abortion in the past year alone.
WE successfully campaigned for the Home use of abortion pills
In August 2018 we celebrated huge win with activist and member Claudia Craig following the announcement by Matt Hancock, Minister for Health and Social Care, that women in England will be permitted to take the abortion pill at home.
The decision comes five months after we launched our #HomeUse campaign as part of our commitment to protecting women’s reproductive rights. The campaign highlighted the experiences of women like Claudia who had been forced to travel after taking abortion pills, by asking activists to share a film and sign Claudia’s open letter to the Minister for Health calling for urgent action on the issue.
Claudia’s letter was signed by thousands and reached more than two million on social media, condemning the distress and humiliation that she and other women experienced as a result of outdated legislation that insists they attend a hospital to take the pill - which can result in women beginning to miscarry on their journey home.
How you can get involved
1) Keep the pressure on Theresa May to ensure Northern Irish women's voices cannot be ignored
Tweet Theresa May to show that you believe abortion should be free, safe and legal in EVERY part of the UK. Northern Irish women's voices have been ignored for too long.
2) Meet with other activists to plan our next action
Our members have asked us to take immediate action to ensure the voices of Northern Irish women cannot be ignored in Westminster.
Over the coming weeks local members in England and Wales will be campaigning to highlight this injustice and call for change. Activists are gathering in meet-ups across England and Wales to plan our next action.
3) There's more to come
Stay in touch with us to find out more about our campaign as it unfolds. We will be in touch soon with the next exciting action. Together we can make this change happen.
If you'd like to know more, we've answered your frequently asked questions >>