The Women’s Equality Party is calling for local election candidates this May as branches open across south west London.
Co-founded by Catherine Mayer and Sandi Toksvig, within three months of opening their doors the party’s membership reached more than 45,000 with 65 branches across the country including Wandsworth, Merton and Croydon.
With more than 15 million people abstaining from voting in May’s General Election the party believes it has a unique opportunity to recruit those voters who feel disappointed as the mainstream parties’ approach to women.
Medical student from Wandsworth Rachel Blackman, 22, said: “I agree with their message that gender equality would boost the economy and make a fairer society.
“However, I worry their name runs the risk of isolating a large group of people and Wandsworth is a big borough with a lot of issues.
“I’m not sure how I would feel about voting for a single-issue party”.
The party’s six main concerns are equal representation, pay, parenting, education, media treatment and ending violence against women.
However, there are concerns that the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) risk further distancing issues like the gender pay gap from mainstream discussion where the decisions are being made rather than tackling them from within the Labour or Conservative Party.
Teacher and WEP member Becky Edwards, 25, said: “I have always been interested in politics but there was never one political party that I could 100 per cent support.
“For me, the WEP stood out as a party that wants to do more than create a veil of equality and wants to make a real difference from the ground up.
“I spend my day with future generations, and there is still gender imbalance and an ingrained sexism in children.
“So I support policies that aim to remove gender stereotyping for children, improve sex education and provide excellent careers advice regardless of gender”.
The WEP opened for membership in July 2015 and later that month announced its leader, former journalist Sophie Walker.
The idea for the new party came about following a debate on women in politics held as part of the Women of the World Festival at the Southbank Centre in March last year.
The candidates for the Women’s Equality Party are due to be released next week.
Picture courtesy of the Women’s Equality Party, with thanks