WE celebrate landmark victory in tackling violence against women and girls
Published 16 December 2016
Today WE celebrated the achievement of one of our core policy goals, just seventeen months after the party was founded. WE committed to the ratification of the Istanbul Convention to tackle violence against women and girls, and partnered with other political parties and IC Change to guarantee this bill’s passage through parliament.
WE Party Leader, Sophie Walker, said: “Today we made history by committing to ratify the Istanbul Convention to prevent violence against women and girls, protect survivors and prosecute perpetrators. Today we put women’s equality at the centre of politics, rejecting the growing and dangerous strand of populism that says equality is a zero sum game.”
Walker opened the party’s first conference on 25 November 2016 by reading out the names of the 582 women who have died because of gender-based violence in the four years and six months since the government failed to ratify the Convention. She called on the conference’s 1,600 delegates to take to the red phone box in the main hall and lobby their MPs to support today’s bill. Throughout this week, WE members tweeted, emailed and green-carded their MPs to turn out for today’s crucial vote, resulting in higher turnout than expected.
“WE have been campaigning for ratification of the Istanbul Convention since the party was founded in Spring 2015. It is a huge victory for IC Change and our thousands of supporters who have put so much into the campaign to get this vote through. It shows the power of collaborative politics - uniting across political divides to uphold women’s rights,” said Walker.
The Istanbul Convention sets minimum standards for governments to meet when tackling violence against women, including taking necessary steps to prevent violence, protect women and prosecute perpetrators. The UK Government will also have to ensure that there is sufficient monitoring of violence against women.
Philip Davies MP spoke against the bill, arguing that the government’s approach should be gender neutral. He failed to understand how violence against women is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality.
“It is deeply concerning that some MPs still consider women’s equality a threat to men,” said Walker. “Male survivors need appropriate services to rebuild their lives, but that does not mean that men’s needs should be at the centre of services for women who have survived male violence. Violence against women and girls is not gender neutral - and as long as we fail to understand this we cannot hope to bring an end to it.”
“The Women’s Equality Party will now focus on making this bill a reality, holding our government to account for the thousands of women survivors of violence, and dismantling the inequalities that give rise to it. We have much work to do, but today has shown how effective we can be,” added Walker.
There were 135 votes in favour of ratification, and two votes against.