WE are the UK’s newest party and the only collaborative force in UK politics. We run candidates in our own right to campaign on our policies, but we also believe in working with other parties and across the political spectrum to make England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland the first gender-equal countries in the world.
Frustrated by the lack of progress towards equality, broadcaster Sandi Toksvig and journalist Catherine Mayer founded the Women’s Equality Party (WE) in 2015. The response was overwhelming.
The first meeting of the emerging party took place at the Southbank Centre on 28 March 2015, and a second meeting was held at Conway Hall on 18 April, agreeing the party’s name and six core objectives.
WE opened for membership on 3 July 2015 and, on 22 July announced our leader, Sophie Walker, who has led the party through its formation phase ahead of a leadership election by the members in spring 2017. WE launched our first policy statement on 20 October 2015.
During 2016, WE ran a number of extremely successful campaigns, including the launch in March of #WEcount, featuring Pavan Amara, which highlighted the prevalence of sexual harassment, assault and intimidation, first on London’s, then the UK’s streets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JQMWNYcYk0.
For our first elections in May 2016, WE polled more than 350,000 votes across London, Wales and Scotland. One in twenty of the votes cast for London Mayor went to WE’s candidate Sophie Walker – an astonishing achievement for such a young party. WE didn’t just make an impact at the ballot box – WE changed the nature of the debate.
In June, WE worked together with the Liberal Democrats to create new legislation, drafting amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill to help victims of revenge porn. WE called for anonymity and compensation for victims, as well as the requirement that it be made an offence to promote or profit from this awful crime.
Our #NoSizeFitsAll campaign launched in September 2016 to widespread acclaim, and the British Fashion Council is now reviewing its policy on sample sizes. September also saw us field our first local council election candidate: Rebecca Manson Jones polled an impressive 7% of the vote in the Brockley by-election, coming in just behind the Conservative Party candidate and way ahead of UKIP’s.
And in October we launched our ground-breaking What Women Want campaign to make 10,000 women’s voices heard. The responses gathered will be fed directly into our policy discussions in 2017 – direct politics in action.
Manchester played host to our first ever party conference in November 2016, when 1500 delegates gathered to make policy, debate key equality issues and to enjoy an amazing, empowering event in the city that gave birth to the suffrage movement.
At the end of 2016, WE endorsed Lib Dem candidate Sarah Olney in the Richmond by-election, helping her secure a win against Zac Goldsmith, whose London mayoral campaign sought to split communities in order to secure votes. It was an historic win for our new style of collaborative politics.
WE are now the fastest growing political force in UK politics with 65,000 members and registered supporters, and 73 branches across the UK.
In 2017, WE have helped organise the Women’s March in London, which saw 100,000 people of all genders take to the streets to protest the rise in racist, misogynist and sexist political rhetoric.
WE helped ensure the process for ratifying the Istanbul Convention (the gold standard framework for tackling violence against women and girls) has been a success.
And WE are working on a nationwide Women’s Day Off for 2018 – to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage – which will see women across the UK down tools to demonstrate the invisible and unvalued paid and unpaid contributions they make to our economy, communities and family life. Join us!