Are the women of Croydon equal to men?

By - Thursday 22nd October, 2015

The local chair of the new Women’s Equality Party invites one and all to the party’s launch

Image public domain.

We are having a party! You are cordially invited to come and celebrate the national policy launch of the new Women’s Equality Party. #WE in Croydon plans to show a video of the national policy launch and reveal the policy. We will talk about the aims and objectives of WEP, answer questions about how we intend to engage locally and nationally, and network over refreshments.

The event is on Saturday 24th October at 10:30am. If you would like to come, please register here, where you will find details of the venue.

The Women’s Equality Party is a new collaborative force in British politics uniting people of all genders, diverse ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, beliefs and experiences in the shared determination to see women enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men so that all can flourish.

Our (brief) history

Since #WE was just a glimmering of an idea, we have heard from many thousands of people who have told us that they share our appetite for change. Join #WE now to make that change happen.

The Women’s Equality Party was co-founded by author and journalist Catherine Mayer and broadcaster and author Sandi Toksvig.

On 3rd March 2015, Mayer proposed founding a Women’s Equality Party during a debate on women in politics held as part of the Women of the World (WOW) Festival at the Southbank Centre. She rang Toksvig the next day to seek Toksvig’s support and Toksvig told her that she intended to propose exactly the same thing, as part of the closing night festivities at the WOW Festival. They immediately agreed to work together.

The first meeting of the emerging party took place at the Southbank Centre on 28th March, and a second meeting was held at Conway Hall on 18th April, agreeing the party’s name and its six core objectives.

“I’m having exactly the same conversations with my friends that my mother was having with her friends in the 1970s”

#WE opened for membership on 3rd July 2015 with a special Founding Membership drive to cover start-up costs, including the tools and structures to establish the party, administer memberships and donations and prepare to campaign. #WE is working for real change and to make real change we need campaign tools — including proper data analytics — to compete against the established parties and win. The party is now officially registered and has more than 50 branches across the UK.

On 22nd July 2015, #WE announced its leader: Sophie Walker. Sophie was chosen unanimously by the Steering Committee of the party’s founders to lead the party through its formation phase, ahead of a leadership election by the members next year.

Sophie is a journalist, blogger, marathon runner and autism campaigner. “A lifetime of experiences made we want to do this”, she says. “I realised the other day that I’m having exactly the same conversations with my friends that my mother was having with her friends in the 1970s. I look at my daughters (aged 13 and 6) and think I really don’t want them to be the third generation having those conversations”.

Equality for women isn’t a women’s issue. When women fulfil their potential, everyone benefits. Equality means better politics, a more vibrant economy, a workforce that draws on the talents of the whole population, and a society at ease with itself.

Why us, why now?

Every day in the UK women face inequality at home, at work, in politics and in public life. That makes the UK a worse place to live for everybody.

Although women make up 51 per cent of the population, only 30 per cent of MPs, 25 per cent of judges and 21 per cent of FTSE 100 company directors are female.

Women still occupy the lowest-paid jobs. At the current rate it will be 70 years before the gender pay gap – currently almost 16 per cent – eventually closes.

Around 1.2 million women suffer domestic abuse a year and nearly half a million people are sexually assaulted. Conviction rates are low.

Although at school girls outperform boys in every mainstream GCSE subject other than maths, and young women make up 57 per cent of first degree university graduates, somewhere along their career path, women fall behind.

An average woman working full-time from 18 to 59 will earn £361,000 less over her working life than an equivalent man.

Over the years some progress has been made. In 1983 just three per cent of MPs were women. The proportion of women on boards has risen from just 12.5 per cent to 23.5 per cent in four short years. More men view themselves as equal partners in the task of balancing work and family.

Progress needs to speed up

We need to up the pace of change. We need to seize every opportunity – at home, at work or in the media – to make the case for equality. For that case is a powerful one.

Big business is leading the way with its recognition that greater diversity at the top of organisations improves the working environment, boosts productivity, creates efficiency savings and improves brand reputation.

Helping more women into the workplace by offering flexible working and support with childcare would also generate huge economic benefits for the country.

Unleashing women’s full potential could add 10 per cent, or over £150 billion, to our GDP by 2030 if all the women that wanted to work did so.

Closing the gender pay gap would increase revenue from income tax and national insurance while reducing payments in tax credits. It would also boost women’s spending power across the wider economy.

A more diverse House of Commons would make better decisions and solve problems more effectively, because it would be able to draw on a wider range of experiences when examining new laws. It would also build and restore public faith in parliament that is crucial to the future of our democracy.

Our schools and universities would not only keep girls on the path to academic success, but play a significant role in challenging gender stereotypes – not least on the subjects they take – and in shaping the values and attitudes of all young people.

While we need the authorities to support victims of violence in rebuilding their lives, report crimes and make sure perpetrators are brought to justice, education could also help make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place.

#WE will set out the case for change. We will work together to finally bring an end to the injustices women still face, and to unleash the enormous potential women offer, to the benefit of everybody.

There are many forms of inequality

#WE is proud to focus on equality for women, and also understand that there are many forms of inequality. We will ensure that our party and policies are informed by the views and experiences of those doubly or trebly disadvantaged, by their gender and by other factors such as ethnicity, age or disability.

#WE will bring about change by winning support, votes and seats. We do not try to present ourselves as a party with an answer on every issue and a full palette of policies and will never take a party line on issues outside our remit, which is to bring about equality for women. #WE is a focused mainstream party, and we will not stop until all other mainstream parties embrace and adopt our agenda of equality – and take action to achieve it.

For further party information, click here. For local branch contact, .

Gillian Manly

Gillian Manly

Gill Manly is a resident of Croydon for some 8 years, is a jazz singer of some repute, broadcaster, and voice over artist. Gill has worked with refugees, run a community café and sung for the Dalai Lama personally on two occasions. She dreams of winning the Great British Bakeoff and enjoys expanding her creativity.

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  • Anne Giles

    There was never any inequality in my teaching job. Salaries were the same for both male and female adult education teachers. Nor is there any inequality in my home or in the political party I am a member of. So I’ll pass on this one.

  • Mario Creatura

    Out of interest, what would the Women’s Equality Party to do combat evidence from the Sutton Trust that the biggest underachievers in our education system are white, working class boys?

    I’d be genuinely interested to hear if you ignore the male half of the species entirely, or have solution to provide genuine equality for all.

    I’d equally be interested to hear what your views are (for example) on our Council’s plans to cut Green Garden Waste; what your Council Tax spending priorities would be if elected in Croydon in 2018 and what your policy is on providing more housing.

    I understand it’s early days for you so you might not have answers to these (and many more) questions for a while. I wish your party well, but I’m concerned that whilst your goal is noble, to be a single-issue party (like UKIP, the Greens, the BNP etc.) tends to be a sure-fire route to electoral failure. If that’s true, how do you believe your cause will be furthered? Will it further split the left-wing of politics? Will that help or hinder your mission?

    • Tom Black

      I’ll leave aside the ‘what about teh menz’ opening gambit (though, just off the top of my head, I would imagine the best thing to do about underachieving WWC boys is for the incumbent government to adjust its education priorities accordingly. Do you know anyone who might be able to put a word in Cameron or Morgan’s ear, Mario?).

      What concerns me is that you don’t appear to have read Gill’s article properly. Did you miss this?

      ‘We do not try to present ourselves as a party with an answer on every issue and a full palette of policies and will never take a party line on issues outside our remit, which is to bring about equality for women.’

      There are criticisms to be made of that position, but I think it’s refreshing to see a single issue party that sticks to that single issue, especially when said issue is so fundamentally broad and will require a lot of work. Dr Richard Taylor of ‘Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern’ would be able to tell you that an open, clear and explicit single issue approach to politics can bring electoral results. Yes, the Lib Dems stood down in his favour in the two general elections he won, but that in itself was no small achievement.

      As someone who’s as big a political geek as you, Mario (and a member of the opposite party), I am also watching with interest how the WEP develops. I’m very interested to see what electoral methods they take, and whether they will produce a manifesto that they ask existing MPs etc to sign up to – this has borne fruit for other organisations in the past.

      What I’m not interested in is this tired old adage that women’s equality does not need to be focused on, and that we should all focus on ‘equality in general’. It might be a twee example, but there’s a reason you don’t get blue shells when you’re already in first place on Mario Kart. To ignore the oppression of women is, I’m afraid, the same as asking why there’s a Black Police Officers’ Association and not a White one. Perhaps you could have a conversation with Theresa May about all this, see what she thinks?

      Sorry if I’ve seemed a little crabby here. But your comment itself seemed rather more aggressive than Gill’s article warranted.

      • Mario Creatura

        More than a little crabby Mr Black!

        As I said, furthering equality can only be a good thing. But unlike you, I’m very concerned that a single-issue party may be trying to win seats on Croydon Council and perhaps national seats without having a comprehensive manifesto for the whole of their constituency or country.

        I know that it’s early days, but while they are all united under the worthy female equality banner, it would be helpful to know in time their economic, social and political leanings. I struggle to see how folk can ignore these aspects in a political party and focus solely on one.

        I did not miss Gill’s ‘We do not try to present ourselves as a party with an answer on every issue and a full palette of policies’ point, but when you run in wide elections then that’s exactly what you’re proposing to do.

        Single-issue pressure groups or think tanks (like CAMRA, RMT or the National Trust – for example) work very well precisely because they aren’t running on a multi-policy platform. They influence policy and change public life as experts without demeaning the electoral process.

        The Greens discovered in Brighton, when they gained power they quickly divided on all issues other than the environmental. They even started colloquially referring to themselves as the ‘Mangoes’ and the ‘Watermelons’ – those deemed to be Green on the outside but Lib Dem or Labour respectively on other policies.

        The WEP needs to be more than a single-issue body to avoid this fate. I hope they do well and look forward to seeing more of their policy detail in future.

        • Pass The Deutschy

          Just saying hello Mr Creatura! I hope all is well. :-) xx

  • Sean Creighton

    The Townswomen’s Guilds have been organising and campaigning since 1929. Their RoadShow comes to Croydon this Saturday at East Croydon URC in Addiscombe Rd 11am – 4pm. There is a Croydon Guild Check out the details at

  • cpmatthews

    simply regurgitating the same myth/lie of the gender wage gap is enough for me, and hopefully others, to see that this is a dangerous group to be in charge. If you can’t do basic fact checking, what hope does Croydon have with them in power?

    Just a few

  • Stephen Giles

    Lost cause…….yawn!

  • Pass The Deutschy

    A better headline: “Manly woman fights for women to be like men”